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2021 NFL Draft: Checking up on New York Jets’ positioning

2019 NFL Draft New York Jets Quinnen Williams
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

With five weeks to go in the 2020 season, Joe Douglas‘ New York Jets are poised to have a boatload of ammunition entering the 2021 NFL Draft.

The Jets currently own nine picks (possibly 10, but most likely nine based on what we know) in next year’s draft. Let’s dig into how things stand for them in each round.

First round

  • Picks: Own (currently #1 overall), Seattle (#26)

As the only winless team in football, the Jets are positioned to earn the league’s first overall pick and the rights to draft Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, but the Jaguars are hot on New York’s trail at 1-10 with 10 consecutive losses. If the two teams were to finish with the same record, Jacksonville would currently win the tiebreaker and claim the No. 1 pick thanks to their weaker strength of schedule (SOS). Jacksonville’s 16 opponents have a combined winning percentage of .555 so far, while New York’s 16 opponents combine for a mark of .589.

The Jets do have time to close the SOS gap and steal the tiebreaker from Jacksonville. Head here for more information on how that could happen.

Thanks to the Jamal Adams trade, Joe Douglas will enter his second draft with two first-round selections. In exchange for Adams’ services and a 2022 fourth-round pick, Seattle sent over their first-round picks in 2021 and 2022, tossing in a 2021 third-round pick and Bradley McDougald.

Seattle’s assumed position at this moment would be No. 26 based on their 7-3 record, which is seventh-best in the league, or 26th-worst.

However, the exact positioning of Seattle’s selection will depend on where they finish in the playoffs should they make it in. The bottom-14 draft slots are tiered according to the round that each playoff team is eliminated in. The six teams eliminated in the Wild Card round get picks 19-24 and are ordered by their regular season records, the four teams eliminated in the Divisional round get picks 25-28 and are ordered by their regular season records, and so on. That order is then maintained over the following six rounds.

For now, it appears safe to expect the Seahawks’ pick to land somewhere in the mid-to-late twenties.

New York Jets, Jets X-Factor

Second round

  • Picks: Own (#33)

Fans are correct to see the No. 1 pick as the prime benefit of being the worst team in football, but it should not be understated how valuable it is to kick off the other six rounds as well.

Owning the top pick in rounds two and four is particularly valuable. Those two rounds kick off the second and third days of the draft. If a team has the first pick in round two or round four, they get an entire day to think that one over and/or shop it around the league.

It is time to start thinking about what Sam Darnold could fetch in a trade. As the league’s worst starting quarterback by a wide margin this season, it is clear that the Jets will most likely be taking a new franchise quarterback at the top of the draft regardless of whether or not they land at No. 1. If that is what Douglas and the franchise are set on doing, then Darnold will be on the block as soon as the new league year begins.

NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah thinks Darnold will bring back a first-rounder. On the contrary, ESPN’s Adam Schefter surveyed general managers around the league and gauged a consensus that Darnold would be unlikely to attract a first-rounder. According to Schefter, it appears more likely that Darnold brings in a package similar to the one Josh Rosen yielded for Arizona, which was a second-rounder and a fifth-rounder.

Schefter’s report came out only four games into the season. Since then, Darnold has only played in three games, missing four games over two separate stints to add more fuel to his durability question marks. In the three games he has played since that report, Darnold has thrown no touchdowns and four interceptions, averaging atrocious rates of 150.0 yards per game and 5.6 yards per attempt. So, his value may be sinking even lower than the Rosen-type package that Schefter suggested.

Perhaps there are teams out there who will want to take a chance on Darnold regardless of what he does this season, willing to write off his time with Adam Gase and believing they can turn his career around. After all, he is still only 23 years old.

My guess is that Darnold brings in a second-round pick, but that is just speculation. His value could fall anywhere, but it seems most likely to be somewhere from the third round to the low first round.

Third round

  • Picks: Own (#65), Seattle (#90)

The Jets also received Seattle’s 2021 third-round pick in the Adams trade.

In total, the Jets currently have five picks that will land in the top-100. The last time that the Jets made five selections in the top-100 was 2006, bringing in a class of D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Nick Mangold, Kellen Clemens, Anthony Schlegel, and Eric Smith. That draft class helped to form the backbone of a successful five-year run for the Jets from 2006-10.

Prior to 2006, the Jets had not made five picks in the top-100 since 2000, taking Shaun Ellis, John Abraham, Chad Pennington, Anthony Becht, and Laveranues Coles, forming yet another class that pushed the Jets towards a successful multi-year run.

Fourth round

  • Picks: Own (#97)

Compensatory picks will be added at the end of each round beginning in round three, so this fourth-round pick will actually land lower than its currently-projected No. 97 slot.

According to Over The Cap, the Jets will not be granted any compensatory picks in 2021. They signed five free agents that quality for the compensatory system (George Fant, Connor McGovern, Breshad Perriman, Patrick Onwuasor, Greg Van Roten) while losing only three to other teams (Robby Anderson, Tom Compton, Brandon Shell).

Fifth round

  • Picks: Own (#129), N.Y. Giants (#147)

The Jets will be getting the Giants’ fifth-round pick from the 2019 Leonard Williams trade. If Williams had signed a contract extension with the Giants prior to the start of the 2020 season, this pick would have been a fourth-rounder. Since Williams was franchise-tagged and did not sign an extension, the Jets get the Giants’ fifth-round pick instead.

Williams also brought over the Giants’ 2020 third-round pick, which was used on Ashtyn Davis at No. 68 overall.

Sixth round

  • Picks: One – either Own (#161), Dallas (#165), or New England (#175)

The Jets own one pick in the sixth round, but it has not been reported exactly which pick they own.

This story begins in Week 2 of 2019. After losing starting wide receiver Quincy Enunwa in the season-opener, the Jets traded their 2021 sixth-round pick to New England for Demaryius Thomas.

On the second day of the 2020 draft, the Jets traded down from their initial No. 48 spot in the second round to Seattle’s No. 59 spot, fetching Seattle’s third-round compensatory pick at No. 101. The Jets then traded No. 101 to New England for two fourth-round picks in that draft (Nos. 125 and 129, used on James Morgan and Cameron Clark) and a 2021 sixth-round pick.

However, it has not been reported exactly which 2021 sixth-round pick the Jets received in that trade. The Patriots have three of them – their own, the Jets’ (Thomas trade), and the Cowboys’ (2019 Michael Bennett trade).

It remains to be seen which of those three picks belong to the Jets, but with all three teams sporting a losing record, that pick will likely land in the top half of the sixth round, unless the pick coming over is New England’s and the Patriots continue their current hot streak.

Seventh round

  • Picks: None*

In March 2019, the Jets traded cornerback Parry Nickerson to the Seahawks for a conditional seventh-round pick. While those conditions have not been reported, it seems likely they were not met. Nickerson made it onto Seattle’s opening-week roster, but he was inactive for the first game. Immediately afterward, he was waived and signed to the practice squad. Seattle released Nickerson in October before he ever appeared for them in a regular season game.

Presumably, Nickerson’s failure to appear in a game means that the conditions were not met and that Seattle will keep this pick, but since the conditions have not been reported, we cannot say for sure. Perhaps making it onto the initial 53-man roster – even if he was inactive for the first game – satisfies the condition. While possible, smart money says that is not the case, so it seems safest to assume that this pick remains in the hands of the Seahawks. Keep an eye out for confirmation regarding the status of this selection.

The Jets do not own their 2021 seventh-rounder, as earlier this season, they sent it over to the 49ers alongside edge rusher Jordan Willis in exchange for a 2022 sixth-rounder.

2021 NFL Draft Joe Douglas Jamal Adams Trevor Lawrence

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3 years ago

I could see JD trading that 2nd R1 pick from Seattle for a couple of day 2 picks, not unlike the way he traded down in R2 in the 2020 draft.