Monday night's national championship had massive NFL draft implications for the New York Jets.
All eyes were on Ohio State's Justin Fields. Could the quarterback build on his spectacular performance against Clemson in the Sugar Bowl and prove that New York needs to take him with the second overall pick?
Further, playmakers like Alabama's running back Najee Harris and OSU's wideout Chris Olave could be available for the Jets when it's time for their second selection later in the first round.
It didn't take long, however, for the focus to shift to No. 6 in red.
DeVonta Smith, Alabama's wide receiver and this year's Heisman Trophy winner, had the game of his life on the national stage. Smith had 215 receiving yards, 12 catches and three touchdowns all in the first half alone. Those numbers would've been even more historic had the star wideout not dislocated his finger, cutting his night short as he was forced to exit Alabama's 52-24 blowout victory prematurely.
Although it will go down as one of the best performances in a national championship to date, this wasn't necessarily a breakout performance for Smith. He's been dominant throughout this entire season for the Crimson Tide, so much so that he became the first wide receiver to win the Heisman since Desmond Howard three decades ago.
Smith led the nation—by far—in receiving yards (1,856), receptions (117) and touchdowns (23). His clinical route running, blinding speed in space and elite pass-catching ability show that he's ready to slice up secondaries at the next level.
That brings us back to the Jets.
Typically teams don't take a wide receiver with the No. 2 overall pick. In fact, the last time a wideout was selected that high in a draft was Calvin Johnson out of Georgia Tech in 2007. Since then, only five wide receivers have been picked within the first five selections of the first round.
The logic there, as is the case with other positions like running back, is that there are always other talented players to take later in the draft.
For a rebuilding organization like New York, they'd arguably be better served shoring up weaknesses on defense (both in the form of a defensive back or an edge rusher) or bolstering the offensive line. Better yet, New York could solve their ongoing uncertainty at quarterback in one fell swoop, taking Fields or BYU's Zach Wilson.
In other words, Jets general manager Joe Douglas has a plethora of options. He could even trade back with another team to stockpile more draft capital over the next few years, a major selling point in Douglas' pursuit of hiring their next head coach.
There is a scenario, however, where the Jets should go with Smith at No. 2.
If Douglas and the organization's new head coach deem Darnold the quarterback of the future, then you can rule out Fields and Wilson. Same goes if they're simply not blown away by this year's class of quarterbacks. As much as the Jets would've loved to have Trevor Lawrence with their first-round pick, that ship has sailed.
As for defensive playmakers, there doesn't appear to be anyone on that side of the ball that's worth the second overall pick. New York would've been looking for an asset like Chase Young, Nick Bosa or Quinnen Williams, the kinds of players that can wreak havoc on defense every single week.
Oregon's left tackle Penei Sewell is a tempting choice, but he plays the same position as Mekhi Becton, the Jets' first-rounder from last year's draft. Sure, New York could move one of them to right tackle and set up a dynamic tandem on the offensive line. Then again, if you're switching someone's position, is it really worth such a high pick, an opportunity that doesn't come around very often? Becton had such a strong year at left tackle in 2020 and is poised to get even better at that position going forward.
From there, maybe Douglas elects to trade the pick. If there are no takers and no deals that warrant moving back in the first round, then New York should go with the best player available.
After all, if the Jets don't take Smith second overall, there's a good chance he'll come off the board and go to the Miami Dolphins (via the Houston Texans) with the very next selection. Wouldn't that be lovely if New York had to face Smith twice a year for the foreseeable future?
It's certainly a risky pick, and Douglas can't afford to miss with so much at stake, but there's no question New York's offense would benefit from the addition of Smith.
Lining up the Heisman trophy winner alongside leading receiver Jamison Crowder and Denzel Mims, whoever is under center will be surrounded by talent. It's going to take time to build the worst offense in football back to respectability and this would be a big step in the right direction.
Barring any trades, New York will then have eight additional picks across the first six rounds in this spring's draft. Use those picks to address positional needs, head into a new season with a new head coach and who knows how many more victories this team can secure in 2021.