How Can the Jets Help Zach Wilson Breakout?

Zach Wilson‘s rookie season is officially in the rearview mirror. Since being drafted with the second overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, New York Jets‘ fans had high expectations for their new quarterback. Wilson was touted as having elite arm strength, and his ability to extend plays, however, he had a desire to look for the big play, and had a “bombs away” mentality. During his first season in the league, those traits translated. He played in 13 games this past season, with the first half being tough to watch. He threw four touchdowns and nine interceptions in his first six games. After his injury, he was able to turn it around, tossing five touchdowns and only two picks in his final seven games. His play in the final weeks of the season showed promise that he may be the quarterback the Jets have been looking for since the 1960s.  The way the current roster is built, it is obvious that he does not have the players around him to make him successful. Let’s look at who the Jets could and should target in the offseason.

The Draft

After going 4-13 last season, the Jets hold the rights to the fourth overall pick in the NFL Draft, as well as the tenth overall selection, due to the Jamal Adams trade made with the Seahawks a couple of seasons ago. There are plenty of options for the Jets here. With the fourth pick, I expect them to address the defensive side of the ball, which was painful to watch last year, especially their secondary. If Kyle Hamilton, the safety out of Notre Dame is still on the board, the Jets should snatch him up. Hamilton is a generational talent at his position. Thedraftnetwork.com said,  “Kyle Hamilton might just be the best NFL Draft prospect I’ve studied since…2014. Hamilton’s football IQ and instincts are simply on another level”.  Head Coach Robert Saleh is a defensive mind, and he would be able to get the most out of Hamilton’s abilities.

With their other first-round selection, the Jets should draft Ikem Ekwonu. He is an offensive tackle, who would be a great fit with the O-Line, sliding in with other young linemen in Mekhi Becton and Alijah Vera-Tucker. Ekwonu is known as the “Pancake King”, as he usually ends his blocks with his opponent on the ground. The Jets’ offensive line at times had Wilson running for his life last season. With the proper development, Ekwonu should be able to protect the Jets franchise QB down the road.

Trades

Even though there are many possible players for the Jets to take in the draft, the Jets can make trades for players in positions of need. One such position of need is a reliable number one receiver. Wilson not having a true number one last year stunted his production, as Corey Davis and Jamison Crowder missed time. Recently, it was reported that the Jets have shown interest in trading for Calvin Ridley. Ridley has over 3000 yards and 28 touchdowns after being in the league for four seasons. Last season, he stepped away from football only five games into the campaign to focus on his mental health. He has not yet made it known if he will play next season or not. If he decides to play, and the Jets are able to trade for him, he would be the number one receiver on the team. A second and third-round pick for Ridley should be enough to get him from Atlanta. Another potential receiver option is a reunion with Robby Anderson, as well as superstar Amari Cooper from the Cowboys.

Free Agency

There are multiple free agents available who would be able to help Wilson, along with the Jets as a whole.  The receiver class is deep. Chris Godwin from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is the biggest name, although he suffered a torn ACL last season. I believe that if the Jets do go the Free Agency route, Mike Williams would be the guy for them. He was the number two receiver on the Chargers behind Keenan Allen. He has made critical plays in key moments for them despite being the second option. Williams last played for Justin Herbert, so he knows how to play with a young quarterback.  Along with Williams, the Jets picking up Dalton Schultz in free agency would be a great acquisition. The Jets have not had a reliable tight end in years. Schultz has proven to be a top tight end in the league and would be great in blocking. He would be a reliable target for Wilson to use for the next couple of seasons.

The Jets have a ways to go before they are ready to be competitive. The AFC has many great teams with young quarterbacks. The AFC East is full of young teams. Putting these pieces around Wilson may not translate to immediate success, but Jets fans just want the team to be competitive for the first time in a decade. It may take a while, but it seems like the Jets have the building blocks to get wins. It is not just about having the players, it’s about getting the players to compliment them, and put them together in the right way.

 

 

 

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