Here is what a New York Jets seven-round mock draft could look like if it were based primarily on analytics.
This is the third of a few analytics-based New York Jets mock drafts I will be concocting. These mocks will be a bit different from anything else out there. I will be relying on advanced statistics to make each selection for the Jets across all seven rounds, consistently going with the best player available according to their production from an analytics perspective (yes, team needs will still be taken into account).
These mocks are conducted using the Jet X Offseason Tool. No trades are made.
Keep in mind that these picks are not necessarily my personal preferences and are based entirely on statistics, so don’t knock me too harshly! The main purpose of this mock is to identify some of the most analytically impressive prospects who could be available at various points of the draft.
Round 1, Pick 2
- The pick: QB Zach Wilson (BYU)
- Volume 1 selection: QB Justin Fields (Ohio St.)
- Volume 2 selection: QB Zach Wilson (BYU)
- Key names off the board: QB Trevor Lawrence (#1, Jaguars)
Intermediate passing and play-action passing are two things that figure to be a big part of the Jets’ passing attack under Mike LaFleur, and Zach Wilson thrives in both areas.
In the 49ers’ 2019 Super Bowl season, Jimmy Garoppolo threw 25.6% of his passes in the intermediate range (10-19 yards downfield), tied for the fifth-highest rate among qualified quarterbacks. He ranked eighth with a 23.6% rate in 2020, while his backup, Nick Mullens, was right behind him at No. 11 with a 23.3% rate.
San Francisco heavily utilized play-action as well. Garoppolo ranked fourth with a 31.9% play-action rate in 2020. In 2019, Garoppolo placed ninth (32.3%) while Mullens placed 12th (29.9%).
Wilson was elite in both facets of the game this past season. On intermediate throws, he completed 69 of 100 passes for 1,132 yards (11.3 Y/A), six touchdowns, and one interception (122.6 passer rating), also earning a 93.9 passing grade at Pro Football Focus that ranked fourth-best in the nation. On play-action passes, he completed 89 of 123 attempts for 1,548 yards (12.6 Y/A), 20 touchdowns, and no interceptions, posting a 154.0 passer rating that led the nation.
Round 1, Pick 23
- The pick: IOL Alijah Vera-Tucker (USC)
- Volume 1 selection: LB Zaven Collins (Tulsa)
- Volume 2 selection: EDGE Azeez Ojulari (Georgia)
- Key names off the board: CB Greg Newsome (#21, Colts), OT Teven Jenkins (#20, Bears), LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (#19, Washington)
It can be argued that Alijah Vera-Tucker is the dream pick for the Jets at No. 23 overall. He solves arguably the team’s biggest need and would be a tremendous value at this spot.
Vera-Tucker had a very good season as USC’s left tackle in 2020. He allowed a 2.77% pressure rate (86th percentile among OT) even while handling a true pass set (pass blocking snaps that are not screens, rollouts, bootlegs, or quick releases) on 39.3% of his pass blocking snaps, a high rate (86th percentile among OT). As a run blocker, he posted a 76.3 grade at PFF that placed at the 80th percentile.
Vera-Tucker’s NFL future is likely going to come at the guard position, which is where he had an elite season as the Trojans’ left guard in 2019. That year, Vera-Tucker allowed a 1.02% pressure rate, placing second-lowest among Power-5 guards. His 76.7 run blocking grade ranked at the 94th percentile among qualified guards.
Round 2, Pick 2 (#34 overall)
- The pick: CB Asante Samuel Jr. (Florida St.)
- Volume 1 selection: RB Javonte Williams (North Carolina)
- Volume 2 selection: CB Eric Stokes (Georgia)
- Key names off the board: RB Javonte Williams (#33, Jaguars), RB Najee Harris (#32, Buccaneers), LB Zaven Collins (#30, Packers), EDGE Azeez Ojulari (#29, Bills)
Some might see Asante Samuel Jr. as a reach at this spot, but the son of the former Patriots, Eagles, and Falcons cornerback has a track record of production that should easily have him in the second-round discussion.
What makes Samuel Jr.’s production most impressive is the fact that he did not benefit from much luck. Only 15.6% of the targets thrown Samuel Jr.’s way in 2020 were considered dropped or poorly thrown, a portion that ranked way down at the 22nd percentile among cornerbacks.
The only player in the 2021 cornerback class who beat out Samuel in all three of passer rating allowed, yards per cover snap allowed, and PFF coverage grade in the 2020 season was Greg Newsome, but Newsome ranked way up at the 81st percentile in terms of luck as he benefited from an opponent miscue on 29.4% of his targets.
Round 3, Pick 2 (#66 overall)
- The pick: EDGE Carlos Basham (Wake Forest)
- Volume 1 selection: IOL Creed Humphrey (Oklahoma)
- Volume 2 selection: TE Brevin Jordan (Miami)
- Key names off the board: EDGE Joseph Ossai (#64, Buccaneers), IOL Wyatt Davis (#63, Chiefs), TE Pat Freiermuth (#61, Bills), EDGE Gregory Rousseau (#58, Ravens)
In a shortened 2020 season, Carlos Basham’s production declined from his previous heights. Over only six games, he ranked at the 72nd percentile among qualified FBS edge rushers with a 12.5% pressure rate and tumbled way down to the 45th percentile with a 62.4 PFF run defense grade. Both marks were some of the worst among his peers in the 2021 draft class.
However, over a much larger sample of 13 games in his 2019 redshirt junior season, Basham had an unstoppable season. He ranked sixth among FBS edge rushers with 60 pressures (three spots behind future Jets edge rusher Bryce Huff, who had 64) and placed at the 98th percentile with a 90.6 PFF pass-rush grade.
Round 3, Pick 22 (#86 overall)
- The pick: IOL Trey Smith (Tennessee)
- Volume 1 selection: EDGE Jordan Smith (UAB)
- Volume 2 selection: RB Kenneth Gainwell (Memphis)
- Key names off the board: CB Paulson Adebo (#85, Titans), TE Tommy Tremble (#81, Dolphins), IOL Quinn Meinerz (#80, Raiders),
Trey Smith had a great season of pass protection at left guard in 2020, allowing a 1.77% pressure rate (90th percentile among OG) while taking on a true pass set rate of 40.4% (89th percentile).
Round 4, Pick 2 (#107 overall)
- The pick: RB Rhamondre Stevenson (Oklahoma)
- Volume 1 selection: IOL Trey Smith (Tennessee)
- Volume 2 selection: IOL Ben Cleveland (Georgia)
Rhamondre Stevenson was one of the most efficient backs in college football this past season, thriving in both phases of the game. In six appearances, he rushed for 665 yards on 101 carries and caught for 211 yards on 23 targets.
As a rusher, Stevenson broke 36 tackles over 101 carries, an average of 0.356 per carry that ranked at the 98th percentile among qualified FBS running backs. In the passing game, Stevenson racked up 211 receiving yards over only 91 routes run, giving him an average of 2.32 yards per route run that also placed at the position’s 98th percentile, even edging out Travis Etienne’s mark of 2.26.
Round 5, Pick 2 (#146 overall)
- The pick: EDGE Jonathon Cooper (Ohio St.)
- Volume 1 selection: CB Olaijah Griffin (USC)
- Volume 2 selection: WR Dez Fitzpatrick (Louisville)
It was a small sample size of only 358 defensive snaps over eight games, but Cooper was fantastic as a pass rusher in 2020. He posted a 15.2% pressure rate (89th percentile among qualified FBS EDGE) and a 20.7% pass-rush win rate (93rd percentile), doing so with legitimacy as 75.8% of his pressures were not considered unblocked or cleanup (85th percentile).
Round 5, Pick 10 (#154 overall)
- The pick: CB Thomas Graham (Oregon)
- Volume 1 selection: CB Rodarius Williams (Oklahoma St.)
- Volume 2 selection: CB Thomas Graham (Oregon)
Thomas Graham is a really good value at this spot, so we’ll go with him yet again.
Graham was putting some good reps on tape at Oregon before opting out of the 2020 season. He ranked at the 95th percentile among qualified FBS corners with an 82.9 coverage grade at PFF in 2019. Graham was similarly excellent in 2018 as he placed at the 88th percentile with a 79.8 grade.
Making plays on the ball is Graham’s forte, as he collected 33 pass deflections and interceptions across 151 targets from 2018-19, a 21.9% rate. That number is more than double the 2020 NFL average for cornerbacks (10.8%). The primary issues for Graham are missed tackles and penalties, as he had 21 of each over his 40 career games with the Ducks.
Round 6, Pick 2 (#186 overall)
- The pick: IOL Drake Jackson (Kentucky)
- Volume 1 selection: IOL Trey Hill (Georgia)
- Volume 2 selection: K Evan McPherson (Florida)
Drake Jackson had an outstanding season at center for Kentucky in 2020, posting an overall PFF grade of 86.4 that ranked sixth-best in the nation among centers. He allowed only three pressures over 305 protection snaps (0.98%). A four-year starter in the SEC who improved each season, Jackson’s technique and movement skills flash on tape.
Round 6, Pick 42 (#226 overall)
- The pick: WR Jaelon Darden (North Texas)
- Volume 2 selection: WR Marquez Stevenson (Houston)
Jaelon Darden shredded his Conference USA competition in 2020, having one of the most dominant seasons of any receiver in the country. In nine games, he caught 74 passes for 1,190 yards and 19 touchdowns.
Darden’s efficiency was insane. He ranked at the position’s 99th percentile with 4.31 yards per route run and also ranked at the 98th percentile with a rate of picking up a first down or a touchdown on 16.7% of his routes run.
For the Jets, Darden makes sense as a late-round flier because he offers the one skill that the Jets don’t have much of at the wide receiver position: elusiveness. Darden led all wide receivers in the country with 23 missed tackles forced after the catch. You cannot help but think of someone like Tyreek Hill when you watch the 5-foot-7 dynamo juke his way through traffic with ease.
Here it is: Our third analytics-based New York Jets draft class.
- R1, #2 overall: QB Zach Wilson (BYU)
- R1, #23 overall: IOL Alijah Vera-Tucker (USC)
- R2, #34 overall: CB Asante Samuel Jr. (Florida St.)
- R3, #66 overall: EDGE Carlos Basham (Wake Forest)
- R3, #86 overall: IOL Trey Smith (Tennessee)
- R4, #107 overall: RB Rhamondre Stevenson (Oklahoma)
- R5, #146 overall: EDGE Jonathon Cooper (Ohio St.)
- R5, #154 overall: CB Thomas Graham (Oregon)
- R6, #186 overall: IOL Drake Jackson (Kentucky)
- R6, #226 overall: WR Jaelon Darden (North Texas)
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