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Chiefs’ OL struggles should have no influence on Jets’ draft decision

Penei Sewell, Patrick Mahomes
Jet X Graphic, Getty Images

The Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl struggles along the offensive line shouldn’t influence the New York Jets draft decision one bit.

The so-called “evidence” is endless—especially post-Super Bowl. What transpires over the course of an entire regular season, including the big game, is always picked apart and utilized in a myriad of ways.

For New York Jets fans, this one was incredibly simple to spot: Patrick Mahomes against the world allows for the Penei Sewell at No. 2 talk to gain significant steam.

I mean, why not? The 31-9 Super Bowl result headlined by Tom Brady‘s seventh championship placed the Kansas City Chiefs offensive line front and center. Without Eric Fisher at left tackle, Mike Remmers delivered an all-time horrid performance that led to Mahomes running around for his life.

Todd Bowles didn’t really have to do much. While the former Jets coach deserves praise for his work this season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers four-man pass rush hit home so frequently and casually that it put Bowles and the Bucs defense ahead of the game. Playing 2-deep on nearly every play spelled doom for the Chiefs—once it became clear they couldn’t even run the ball against a light box.

This leads to social media silliness that continues to this very moment.

No question about it: An excellent case for Sewell at No. 2 exists. The offensive line must be formidable for anything to work offensively. Jets fans know this better than any fanbase, as their five-man unit slowly crumbled once Brandon Moore left and D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold retired. Mike Maccagnan’s O-line neglect limited offensive players’ development ceilings.

But as true as that offensive line sentiment is, no Jets fan should take one particular instance and cite it as the reason to do anything in the draft or free agency.

A million reasons exist for anything and everything. Mahomes and the Chiefs had no chance in the Super Bowl thanks to a paltry O-line. But didn’t that very same superstar quarterback win a title a year ago and get them there again this year? Why not point out that instance as a reason for selecting Zach Wilson No. 2? After all, it’s not like Mahomes had Peyton Manning buzz heading into the draft (selected 10th in 2017).

We know Joe Douglas won’t allow one game to influence his decision. How he and all Jets fans should look at the situation is by taking the top three picks and sorting out the prospects and the value for each.

New York selects No. 2, No. 23 and No. 34 in the 2021 NFL draft. At No. 2, Sewell, Zach Wilson, Justin Fields and even DeVonta Smith all remain viable options. The “look what happened to Mahomes” crowd wants Sewell. Fair enough (as long as what happened in the Super Bowl isn’t the only evidence). But what next?

Quarterback draft talent is abundant at No. 2 (with two names) yet nearly nonexistent at No. 23 and No. 34—unless Kyle Trask or one of the other lower-rated quarterbacks is your choice. Trey Lance and Mac Jones are even expected to be picked prior to No. 23.

The offensive line talent is projected out much differently. In fact, the O-line talent projected to go in the late first/early second round is excellent on paper. Tackles Jalen Mayfield, Teven Jenkins, Alex Leatherwood and Liam Eichenberg are all names projected out in this area, while interior players such as Wyatt Davis, Creed Humphrey and Alijah Vera-Tucker should be staring Douglas in the face.

It’s essentially the same reason DeVonta Smith at No. 2 or Jerry Jeudy at No. 11 a year ago didn’t make much sense. The wide receiver position is and should forever be deep in the draft (courtesy of today’s pass-happy football rules). While that’s not true of offensive linemen, this year features plenty of talent near the end of the first and early in the second.

Additionally, offensive line talent exists in free agency, whereas no quarterbacks can be found there. Zach Wilson paired with Joe Thuney (free agency) and Wyatt Davis (No. 32) sounds a hell of a lot better than Penei Sewell, Joe Thuney and Kyle Trask or Sam Darnold.

Remember, the flexibility allowed when operating with a rookie quarterback contract is immense when compared to a guy entering his fourth year after the fifth-year option is declined. Also, drafting Sewell would mean the Jets would be on the hook to pay two tackles franchise-altering money—assuming both Sewell and Mekhi Becton are studs through their rookie deal.

It actually sounds silly to even put the advisory to paper: Don’t take a singular instance and use it as evidence for why your favorite team should do something. Yet, in this day and age, a response feels necessary—regardless of that silly feeling.

New York Jets, Jets X-Factor

Sewell is a tackle any general manager would love to employ. This, of course, includes former offensive lineman Joe Douglas. But Douglas also runs the Jets football operations based on one principle above all else: value.

The value that is a quarterback at No. 2 with at least one interior offensive lineman and one dynamic edge rusher at No. 23 and 34 is far superior to any option involving Darnold or Sewell at No. 2—as long as the organization truly believes in the drafted quarterback in that spot.

The case for Penei Sewell at No. 2 is a legitimate one. Just don’t point to the Super Bowl and say, “See, this is why the Jets have to go tackle at No. 2 and stick with Darnold.”

The, “See, look at this singular instance” game can be played to death and many things can be true at the same time. After all, it turned out that Le’Veon Bell‘s rough go of it in New Jersey wasn’t solely the fault of the coach and/or offensive line. The coaching was poor, offensive line play was terrible and Bell’s skills also declined at his advanced running back age.

Bell’s zero Super Bowl snaps is a singular instance that helps support the prior claim. But his body of work since leaving the Jets helps cement it.

As I already mentioned: More than two things can be true at the same time. The Jets O-line can need improvement while Wilson at No. 2 represents the correct call.

Sewell at No. 2 can have legs; just don’t think Patrick Mahomes‘s Super Bowl struggles can pinpoint where the New York Jets should go in the 2021 NFL draft.

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