Kenneth Gainwell, Wyatt Davis, Zach Wilson
Jet X Graphic, Getty Images

The New York Jets 2021 NFL mock draft (Sabo 1.0) is all about the cheat code that comes with a top-10 quarterback.

Robby Sabo

Why does it feel wrong to put together a mock draft in February? The answer is as easy as a North Carolina University student-athlete class back in the day—arguably, if you believed the scandal hype of a decade ago.

It’s all the rage. Mock drafts in April, mock drafts in March, and obviously, mock drafts in February. Even mock drafts in January, December and November see too much of the light that’s created by the day.

While it’s obviously silly, the idea is formidable due to one constant that never ceases to exist. Sports fandom runs on hope.

Hope is what carries the fan through the day, the week, the month and even the long year that’s nearly guaranteed to be a disaster. What’s needed to get through the rough times is an abundance of hope that makes the offseason the pinnacle of the sports year for a majority of professional sports organizations.

So yeah, it’s silly, perhaps even in late February. But even silliness should be acknowledged when done properly, which takes us to the New York Jets 2021 NFL mock draft, Sabo 1.0.

Draft day trade: Sam Darnold to the New Orleans Saints for No. 60

Carson Wentz‘s employment status with the Indianapolis Colts means Joe Douglas has one less suitor for Sam Darnold‘s services. The Chicago Bears remain a legitimate destination, but we’ll opt for Sean Payton taking a shot on the USC product in 2021.

Round 1, No. 2: Zach Wilson, QB-BYU

Which sane human could possibly read Jets X-Factor and not take a stab at the brand-new Jet X Offseason Tool? Complete trades, cut players, re-sign your own, navigate free agency and cap it all off with a mock draft.

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The tool helps conceptualize what the Jets’ route is from each angle—trading for Deshaun Watson, trading down from No. 2 or sticking at No. 2. And if sticking at No. 2 is the play, quarterback Zach Wilson should be in the cards.

Wilson’s traits make him a perfect candidate for Mike LaFleur’s offense. There are concerns about his smaller frame (and height), but today’s Charmin soft NFL should help ease those worries.

This strategy’s crucial element deals with the modern cheat code that is the salary wage scale. A top 10 quarterback in the draft is a movable and cheap piece that allows for a serious advantage across the rest of the depth chart.

There are legitimate arguments for Sam Darnold, but the timeline makes it too risky. What’s a general manager to do if Darnold puts up 24 touchdowns, 15 interceptions and 3,600 yards in 15 games next year? Signing him to a multi-year deal after just one decent season is something that could sink a general manager’s career before it takes off.

In today’s NFL, it’s the second quarterback contract that dooms an organization, not the first.

Round 1, No. 23: Gregory Rousseau, EDGE-Miami

There’s a tremendous chance Gregory Rousseau is gone by the time the Jets select at No. 23. But if he’s there, Douglas should jump all over the guy.

Opting out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns, Rousseau is an athletic freak who can hold down one of Robert Saleh‘s two 4-3 edges. He’s physical enough to handle himself against the run as well as rush from the interior in sub-package looks.

The other edge rusher will have to come from free agency, in the form of Trey Hendrickson, Shaquil Barrett, Bud Dupree or any one of the number of edge players who aren’t re-signed or franchise tagged.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 19: Ohio State Buckeyes offensive lineman Wyatt Davis (52) looks on in action during the Big Ten Championship game between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Northwestern Wildcats on December 19, 2020 at Lucas Oil stadium, in Indianapolis, IN.
(Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Round 2, No. 34: Wyatt Davis, IOL-Ohio State

Another interior offensive lineman from Ohio State? Where do the Jets sign up?

Again, much like Rousseau, it’ll be interesting to see if Wyatt Davis lasts until No. 34. But again, if he does, Douglas hopping on this interior stud would do a lot to complete the evolving offensive line.

Davis on the right side with possible free-agent acquisition Joe Thuney on the left side would complement Mekhi Becton, Connor McGovern and George Fant spectacularly.

Round 2, No. 60: Nico Collins, WR-Michigan

Much like edge and interior offensive line, the Nico Collins pick at No. 60 needs to complement a Curtis Samuel or Allen Robinson signing on the open market.

If it’s Samuel, my preference (in order to lock down the gadget/X-factor duties the Jets desperately need), an outside threat like Collins should be drafted.

Collins is a 6-foot-4, 215-pound senior who needs a little work but possesses every trait necessary to win outside.

Round 3, No. 66: Jabril Cox, LB-LSU

Jayon Brown in free agency would be an excellent choice, but LSU’s Jabril Cox would help fill a major need on the second level. Cox is fast and can play coverage with the best of them.

Considering Saleh’s defense calls for more base defense and second-level backers who can handle space, Cox suits the unit perfectly alongside MIKE C.J. Mosley.

MEMPHIS, TN - DECEMBER 7: Kenneth Gainwell #19 of the Memphis Tigers celebrates a touchdown against the Cincinnati Bearcats during the American Athletic Conference Championship game on December 7, 2019 at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, Tennessee. Memphis defeated Cincinnati 29-24.
(Photo by Joe Murphy/Getty Images)

Round 3, No. 86: Kenneth Gainwell, RB-Memphis

Kenneth Gainwell’s stock is rising, which makes this pick at No. 86 tricky. It’s questionable whether or not he lasts, but yet again, if he’s there, New York must pounce.

Gainwell’s game flows with the Shanahan system. He’s a true featured back who can catch the ball from a variety of perspectives, even out wide. And yes, he can handle a wide-zone scheme at the professional level.

Round 4, No. 107: Hunter Long, TE-Boston College

Hunter Long in the fourth round would be a sneaky choice. Although Chris Herndon can enter the 2021 season as the starter, there must be competition. There also must be a No. 2 who can block.

Long’s blocking prowess makes him the perfect second tight end in LaFleur’s system. Hopefully, a Kyle Juszczyk signing complements Long in a variety of sets.

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Round 5, No. 147: Ambry Thomas, CB-Michigan

Bryce Hall was the fifth-round choice in 2020, so why not turn to the cornerback again in this spot?

Michigan’s Ambry Thomas is a 6-foot, 189-pound corner who plays a physical brand of football. This makes him an ideal candidate for Saleh’s zone-heavy defense that often features a soft press corner that bails.

Round 5, No. 155: James Wiggins, S-Cincinnati

What makes James Wiggins a nice fit for the Jets is his 2-deep-safety prowess. A guy who’s neither a pure free nor strong safety, the Cincinnati product could fit well in Saleh’s Cover 4-heavy scheme (2-deep).

Round 6, No. 199: Joshua Kaindoh, EDGE-Florida State

At this point, it’s about lottery tickets. Joshua Kaindoh, an athletic 6-foot-7 edge is poised to carry incredible traits to the league that plays for pay.

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Robby Sabo is a co-founder, developer and credentialed New York Jets content creator for Jets X-Factor | Jet X, which includes Sabo's Sessions (in-depth film breakdowns) and Sabo with the Jets. Host: Underdog Jets Podcast with Wayne Chrebet and Sabo Radio. Member: Pro Football Writers of America. Coach: Port Jervis (NY) High School. Washed up strong safety and 400M runner. Founder: Elite Sports NY - ESNY (sold in 2020). SEO: XLM Email: robby.sabo[at]
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2 years ago

I used the JetsX tool and traded for DeShaun. Incredibly, was also somehow able to get Kyle Pitts at 23, along with Trevon Moerig, Assante Samuel, Jr., Ben Cleveland, Simi Fehoko, Trey Hill and Tarron Jackson. Free agents included Allen Robinson, Curtis Samuel and Brandon Scherf. If our trades/draft/signings worked out like this, I’d be over the moon. Sadly, I think the tool is just a tease.

2 years ago

Love it except for the Nico Collins and Gregory Rousseau picks. If Toney is there at #23, I’m taking Toney over Rousseau, although I can understand why you took Rousseau. Collins isn’t that good, and he’s not fast. The Jets need more speed and playmaking ability on offense. Samuel would definitely help, but I think the Jets needs a Kadarious Toney, Javian Hawkins or Demetric Felton. I’ll be surprised if Wyatt Davis makes it to #34.