Even though the New York Jets had yet another season full of losing in 2021, things are trending in a positive direction for the first time in a while. With two first-round picks in this year’s draft and tons of cap space, the Jets’ front office must nail this offseason in order for the team to be decent in 2022. One of the most important events of the offseason is the NFL Draft, and this one is a huge one for New York. Here’s what the Jets need to do in the first three rounds of this year’s draft.
Round 1, Pick 4 (Jets): Ikem Ekwonu, T/G, NC State
Throughout the past couple of years, General Manager Joe Douglas has made the offensive line one of his top priorities every year. In 2020, they found their left tackle of the future selecting Mekhi Becton out of Louisville. Last year, they grabbed their left guard of the future, Alijah Vera-Tucker after trading up nine spots. In this draft, New York should add another piece or two to the line, and I believe North Carolina State’s Ikem Ekwonu would be a great addition.
With Becton’s future possibly in question, Ikem Ekwonu is the perfect pick here at four. He has the ability to play right tackle and can also slide in at the guard position. Adding him would give quarterback Zach Wilson enough time in the pocket to utilize his skillset.
Round 1, Pick 10 (via SEA): Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
Even though the Jets drafted Elijah Moore in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft and signed former Titan Corey Davis to a three-year deal, New York could still add another playmaker for Zach Wilson. After a stellar final year with the Ohio State Buckeyes in 2021, Garrett Wilson will most likely be on the board when the Jets are on the clock here. This pick should be a no-brainer, as the team would have a dynamic duo of receivers in Elijah Moore and Garrett Wilson, and a great third option in Corey Davis.
While a defensive back is definitely in play here, Joe Douglas knows he must support his young quarterback with as much help as possible.
Round 2, Pick 35 (Jets): Christan Harris, ILB, Alabama
Although the Jets have some young pieces on their defense at the moment, the talent on the unit is very scarce and new players must be brought in. New York’s linebackers currently consist of veteran C.J. Mosley, in-season signing Quincy Williams, and 2021 rookies as depth pieces. While the potential is definitely there, the rookies and Willams have a long way to go before they can become stars. Alabama linebacker, Christian Harris, should be an impact player from Day 1 as a starter in Saleh’s defense.
Not only does Harris have three years of college experience under his belt, but his physical tools are also among the best in the class for linebackers. Harris will more than likely be an option here at pick 3, and Douglas should pull the trigger on him.
Round 2, Pick 38 (via CAR): Trey McBride, TE, Colorado State
Having a viable option at the tight end position is huge for a quarterback, especially one that is coming off his rookie season and looking to improve. Last season, New York had arguably the worst tight end group in the entire league. With Tyler Kroft as your top tight end, your offense is most likely going to be below average or worse. That’s why I believe the Jets should draft one early in this draft and taking Colorado State standout Trey McBride is a great way to build a great tight end room.
If the Jets sign a tight end in free agency and draft McBride, the unit would already be among the league’s better ones. Even if they just add McBride, he will be a difference-maker from day one.
Round 3, Pick 69 (Jets): Boye Mafe, EDGE, Minnesota
After they signed former Bengals pass-rusher Carl Lawson to a multi-year deal this past spring, they hoped he would be the solution to their pass-rush issues. However, he tore his Achilles in August and the team was doomed at the position. While Lawson will be back next season, he may not be at full strength right away. Adding Minnesota product Boye Mafe would do wonders for Robert Saleh’s defense. After his strong showing at the Senior Bowl, he will fly up draft boards in no time.