Trevor Lawrence
(Photo by Todd Kirkland/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The narrative that the New York Jets are an atypically poor destination for Trevor Lawrence is highly manufactured and lacks any sort of evidence to back it up.

Many in the national media continue to throw around the notion that Trevor Lawrence should force a trade in the event that the Jets land the No. 1 pick and intend to select him, claiming that the Jets present him with an atrocious situation that will ruin his career.

In actuality, the Jets would present Lawrence with a situation that is comparable to or better than many of the recent quarterbacks who have been taken with the first overall pick. Here are just a few of the assets that make the Jets an unusually ideal destination for a team at the top of the draft order.

Mekhi Becton

The third-youngest tackle in the NFL to appear in a game this season (at slightly over 21-and-a-half years old), Becton is enjoying a rookie season that suggests he is on the path to becoming an elite left tackle.


Over his past four games – three of them coming against defenses ranked in the top half of quarterback hits per game (Kansas City, L.A. Chargers, Miami) – Becton has allowed only five pressures across 111 protection snaps (3.6%), including zero sacks or hits.

Becton owns a 74.6 overall grade at Pro Football Focus this season, the best by a rookie left tackle selected in the top-15 since future All-Pro Ronnie Stanley in 2016.

If Becton can maintain that mark of 74.6, he will become the first-ever rookie left tackle to post a 70.0+ PFF grade at under 22 years old (since grades were first tracked in 2006).

Prior to 2020, the only tackle to do that on either side of the line was potential future Hall-of-Famer Tyron Smith (2011), who started out at right tackle before moving to left tackle and becoming a seven-time Pro Bowler, four-time All-Pro, and member of the NFL’s 2010s All-Decade Team.

The way he is playing right now at such a young age, a similar line of accolades just might be in Becton’s future.

Denzel Mims

In spite of horrendous quarterbacking and coaching, Mims is showcasing superstar potential.

Mims is the eighth rookie in NFL history to post at least 40 receiving yards in each of his first five career games, joining Terry Glenn (1996), Andre Johnson (2003), Stefon Diggs (2015), Amari Cooper (2015), Michael Thomas (2016), Terry McLaurin (2019), and CeeDee Lamb (2020).

As things currently stand, Mims ranks third among rookies in yards per route run with a sterling mark of 2.01 (79th percentile among WR with 20+ targets), trailing only Chase Claypool (2.16) and Justin Jefferson (2.91). His average of 56.8 yards per game ranks fourth-best among rookies.

It has been Mims’ ability to create down the field that has injected some life into a lethargic Jets offense. He is averaging 11.8 air yards per reception, 17th-best among all wide receivers (83rd percentile among WR with 15+ receptions) and third-best among rookies.

Mims is carrying the Jets’ passing attack. He has accounted for 284 of the Jets’ 845 passing yards in the five games he has played, a whopping 33.6%. That ranks second-best among rookies, trailing only Jefferson (34.6%).

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The Baylor product is putting up all of these numbers while catching passes from Sam Darnold, who is on pace to post the worst passer rating versus league average in NFL history by a non-rookie quarterback with at least 350 pass attempts, and a 35-year-old Joe Flacco, whose best days are far behind him. Not to mention, he is running routes drawn up by Adam Gase.

It should also be noted that Mims has been facing tough competition over these first five games. He has already hauled in first down grabs against the coverage of star cornerbacks Tre’Davious White, J.C. Jackson, Casey Hayward, and Xavien Howard.

Producing efficiently and consistently in very unfavorable conditions, Mims’ odds of future stardom continue to look better by the week.

Jamison Crowder

Crowder has been one of the best slot receivers in the NFL this season. He is averaging a career-high 65.1 receiving yards per game and is ranked fourth in the league with 48.0 yards per game out of the slot.

Those numbers are strong, but they should actually be even better. Crowder’s production has been greatly restricted by bad quarterbacking. There have been numerous instances in which he was open for a big gain, but either Darnold or Flacco did not get him the ball.

With an average quarterback, Crowder would easily be one of the most productive pass-catchers in football right now. He and Mims form the core of what could become an outstanding wide receiver trio next season if the Jets can make one more strong addition at the position.

Cap space

The Jets are projected by Over The Cap to have $80,859,956 in cap room next offseason, second-most in the NFL behind the Jaguars. Top-tier wide receivers such as Chris Godwin, Kenny Golladay, Allen Robinson, and Will Fuller are poised to hit the market, as are elite guards Joe Thuney and Brandon Scherff. It’s anybody’s guess as to which of these players actually do become available, whether they are retained via franchise tag or an extension, but the bottom line is that Joe Douglas will have plenty of wiggle room to add weapons for his new quarterback.

Draft ammunition

According to Tankathon, the Jets currently have the most valuable collection of 2021 draft picks in the NFL based on the cumulative value of all selections (using projected positioning according to present-day standings) on the Jimmy Johnson trade value chart.

  1. N.Y. Jets (4,872.8 points)
  2. Jacksonville (4,840.2)
  3. Cincinnati (3,201.0)
  4. Miami (3,122.0)
  5. Dallas (2,712.8)
  6. L.A. Chargers (2,679.1)
  7. Philadelphia (2,476.2)
  8. Washington (2,428.5)
  9. Carolina (2,407.9)
  10. Detroit (2,177.0)

The Jets will have Seattle’s first and third-round picks thanks to the Jamal Adams trade, and they remain in possession of their own second and third-round picks, which will land at the top of those two rounds if they secure the No. 1 pick outright (a win via tiebreaker would result in alternating positions with Jacksonville throughout the draft). This positions them to make five picks in the top-100.

Throughout Jets history, draft classes loaded with early selections have always led to success. Here is what transpired for the Jets following their six draft classes in the Super Bowl era (since 1966) that featured five top-100 selections:

  • 2006: made playoffs in 3 of next 5 seasons, including two AFC Championship appearances
  • 2000: winning record in 4 of next 5 seasons and playoffs in 3 of 5, winning a playoff game in 2 of those
  • 1984: missed playoffs in 1984 before back-to-back 10+ win playoff seasons in 1985 and 1986 (1985 team: 3rd-best point differential adjusted for strength of schedule in Jets history)
  • 1979 and 1980: Missed playoffs in 1979 and 1980 before back-to-back playoff seasons in 1981 and 1982 (1982 team: made AFC Championship and owns 2nd-best point differential adjusted for strength of schedule in franchise history)
  • 1967: 8-5-1 record in 1967 (first winning record in team history) followed by 1968 Super Bowl III championship team and 1969 AFL East Division championship team (10-4)

The Jets have made 14 playoff appearances in franchise history, and 12 of them were directly set up by one of the aforementioned six draft classes (1991 and 1998 are the exceptions).

Joe Douglas

Having a lot of shots at the dartboard is great, but that will only lead to positive results if the person throwing the darts can actually hit the mark (see: Idzik, John).

Douglas seems to be capable of capitalizing on the hoard of assets he has built for himself.

We are only 11 games in, so it is too early to jump to any definitive conclusions, but Douglas’ first draft class is looking promising.

Becton and Mims have been fantastic, as previously discussed.

Ashtyn Davis has showcased the potential to become a versatile weapon and is gradually improving. Following a disastrous starting debut in Kansas City (as expected against such a formidable foe), Davis earned a 67.4 overall PFF grade over his next three starts, which ranks at the 56th percentile among qualified safeties since Week 9.

Bryce Hall has looked like a seasoned veteran in his first two NFL starts, flashing strong technique, innate feel, and top-notch awareness. Robby Sabo and Joe Blewett have gone in-depth on the many promising signs he is already showing (breakdowns linked). It’s extremely early, but Hall has only allowed 1.19 yards per route run, which ranks at the 57th percentile among qualified cornerbacks and is the best among the 13 qualified rookie cornerbacks. Hall has done that with a large chunk of his coverage reps coming against Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and DeVante Parker, who each surpassed 1,000 yards in 2019.

Braden Mann has shown the talent to become an All-Pro punter and is quickly improving. He ranks 11th in hang time average since Week 4 (4.41 seconds) and has ballooned to fifth-best over the past five weeks (4.45 seconds).

We have a long way to go until the book is closed on whether or not Douglas is a good general manager, but things are trending in the right direction for him.

Head coach

If the Jets retain Gase into 2021, you can go ahead and rip this article to shreds, but we will assume that the architect behind the greatest disaster in franchise history will not be returning.

The facts listed throughout this piece are not only reasons behind the Jets being a good destination for Lawrence, but they serve as reasons that the Jets might be enticing to prospective head coaches as well. Douglas, cap space, and plenty of draft picks are excellent draws to a coach looking to build his own program from the ground up.

Plus, if the Jets do come out of the 2020 season in possession of the No. 1 pick, their vacancy will become infinitely more attractive. The opportunity to coach Lawrence – one of the greatest quarterback prospects in history – is a massive draw. That will especially be the case for offensive-minded candidates such as Eric Bieniemy, Brian Daboll, Todd Monken, Matt Campbell, Joe Brady, and my personal favorite, Arthur Smith (who has been broken down in-depth by Ben Blessington and Sam Crnic, linked here).

Should Lawrence become a Jet, he will probably be coming to play for a promising head coach. This is TBD, of course – do we really trust the Jets to nail this one after hiring Adam Gase? – but the aura of Lawrence would present the Jets with plenty of strong options. It will be up to them to choose wisely and avoid squandering the opportunity.

Summary

With three fantastic supporting pieces on offense, plenty of cap space, a bevy of draft picks, and a well-respected GM who might just be a strong drafter, the Jets are as favorable of a destination for a franchise quarterback as they could possibly be while still losing enough games to earn the first overall pick.

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elehtis
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elehtis

Good stuff as always, Michael. Worth mentioning under the Draft Ammunition heading, you can add whatever draft capital JD manages to swing for Sam in the off season. Joe has gone to a lot of trouble to add R6 picks in 2021 and 2022, so one or two of these could conceivably be used as sweeteners in a Darnold trade. Another R2 pick in the 2021 draft would be especially nice given the wide array of needs on the roster. That said, I really hope JD has learned from how the Zuniga and Morgan picks were utilized. You should only… Read more »