The New York Jets could get a lot of interest for the 34th overall pick in tonight’s draft. Should they trade out?
What a night for the Jets. The selection of Zach Wilson with the second overall pick was hardly a surprise, but what followed 12 picks later was truly the highlight of the night for Jets fans. “Trader Joe” struck again.
General manager Joe Douglas traded picks 66 and 86 (both third-rounders) in order to move up nine spots and select arguably the best guard in the draft, Alijah Vera-Tucker.
The move has been praised almost unanimously by fans and experts alike, but Douglas’ work is far from finished.
Heading into day two of the draft, the Jets currently hold the second pick of the night (34th overall). This is obviously quite a good spot to be in, especially when looking at the level of talent still on the board — nobody expected Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and Teven Jenkins to still be available right now. The only problem now is the fact that after the 34th pick, the team won’t be on the clock again until the 107th pick (fourth round).
So, the question presents itself: should the Jets jump on the tempting talent of a player at 34, or should they trade back to try and recoup more draft capital?
Let’s examine the possible outcomes of each scenario.
First off, we have to look at the available talent at 34. One player will be taken before the Jets go on the clock, but the team would still be guaranteed at least one of these guys, were they to stay put.
One player who would be pretty hard to pass on for Joe Douglas would be the aforementioned Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. This inside linebacker is a phenomenal talent who not many expected to make it out of the first round. He’s a hard-hitting, highly intelligent playmaker on the defensive side of the ball — think a slightly lesser Jamal Adams, but better in coverage. JOK is undersized for his position (6-foot-1, 221 lbs.) but every other trait he possesses (speed, power, instincts, competitiveness) should be more than enough to make up for it.
Further motivation to add JOK to Gang Green’s roster comes from head coach Robert Saleh’s background in working with linebackers. Before he was a defensive coordinator, Saleh was a linebackers coach. Owusu-Koramoah looks like he could be the Fred Warner of this Jets defense, and that’s something that’s really hard to pass up.
Another option at 34 could be offensive tackle Teven Jenkins, who many Jets fans were hoping for the team to select at 23 had they stayed put. Like JOK, Jenkins is a player who, quite simply, shouldn’t be on the board right now. Had the Jets taken him at 23, most would have considered it a slam dunk pick — and now he’s sitting right there for the taking at 34.
Of course, tackle isn’t Gang Green’s biggest need, and they did just trade up to select an offensive lineman, but Jenkins projects as a guard to start out his NFL career, and the Jets still have a glaring need at their other guard spot. Taking Jenkins would fill that need, as well as provide the team with a high-upside right tackle of the future once George Fant’s contract is up. Furthermore, the ferocity that Jenkins plays with is so reminiscent of Mekhi Becton that the thought of having them as your tackle duo of the future might be too hard for Douglas to pass on.
It’s almost ridiculous how much talent is still left on the board, so we can’t go over everybody, but some of the other remaining names include:
Trevon Moehrig, an uber-talented safety from TCU; unanimous best safety in the class.
Elijah Moore, a twitchy slot receiver similar to Jamison Crowder, with higher upside.
Asante Samuel Jr., an undersized but ferocious cornerback with NFL bloodlines.
But say Douglas decides that while it would be nice to take one of these players at 34, he just can’t afford to wait all the way until the fourth round to pick again. He very well could be looking at this from the perspective of, “this much talent is still on the board, so plenty of teams will be willing to compete against each other to move up.” Say a few teams picking in the back half of the second round wanted to move up for Owusu-Koramoah. Douglas could very well manage to trade back that far while also picking up an additional third-round pick in the process.
Of course, this move would pose a certain degree of risk, seeing as the players the Jets could be getting at 34 have a great chance of being special in the NFL. But when looking at the number of needs the Jets still have, it really does hurt to not have a single third-round pick anymore.
It would seem that Joe Douglas has a very important and difficult decision to make, but as Jets fans, the good news is that we have tons of reasons to be excited about staying put or trading back. I personally think the latter is the smarter option, but one thing’s for sure: it feels damn good to be a Jets fan right now.
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