Michael Mayer, NFL Draft, NY Jets
Michael Mayer, Notre Dame, NFL Draft, New York Jets, Getty Images

The NY Jets could go in several surprising directions at pick No. 13

Never say never.

Robby Sabo has been hammering this point home to New York Jets fans who insist that the team will go in only one direction with their first-round pick in the draft.

People said the Jets would “never” take a cornerback at No. 4 overall. They would “never” take a running back in the second round.

Well, they did both. Agree or disagree with the moves (though it is difficult to justify how you could disagree with the Sauce Gardner pick), but Joe Douglas and Robert Saleh are not as predictable as they may seem.

Let’s imagine Douglas going rogue, then. What are three possible surprising moves that the Jets can make with their first-round pick?

Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR

The hype around JSN has grown this offseason, and I believe he’ll be off the board before No. 13. However, if the Jets don’t sign Odell Beckham Jr., they could decide to just take the best receiver in the draft.

The receiver who Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave said is better than them is worth the 13th pick, certainly. He may even be worth it for a team that likes its receiver room. Corey Davis is in the final year of his deal with the team, and Mecole Hardman signed a one-year contract.

Although Aaron Rodgers is notorious for disliking young receivers, he certainly didn’t complain when Christian Watson broke out midseason. Watson became his No. 1 target. Although Wilson is likely to take that crown with the Jets, Smith-Njigba could replace Elijah Moore in the slot and far exceed his actual production.

Now, it’s possible that if JSN is still on the board, some other team wants to trade up to nab him. The Saints traded up for Olave at No. 11 overall last year, giving up their No. 16, 98, and 120 picks to Washington. If JSN really is better, a team like the Giants could make that move and give up quite a boatload in the process.

Still, as much as I think the Jets need offensive line help, there’s really no such thing as an embarrassment of riches at receiver anymore. After quarterback, it is arguably the most valuable position in the NFL. This would solidify the Jets’ receiving corps near the top of the league.

Ja’Marr Chase to Cincinnati is a good comparison. The Bengals already had two good receivers in Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd but still chose Chase over Penei Sewell. As good as Sewell is for Detroit, Chase helped Joe Burrow elevate his game to another level. JSN isn’t quite Chase, but his ceiling is said to be Cooper Kupp. He can help Rodgers possibly return to MVP level in 2023.

Tight end

The Jets invested too much into their tight end room to draft one.

Would any team skip drafting Travis Kelce or George Kittle because they had Tyler Conklin and C.J. Uzomah?

Now, I’m not saying there’s definitely a tight end with that kind of impact available. However, it’s a deep tight end draft, and players like Michael Mayer, Dalton Kincaid, and Darnell Washington have their hype. It is widely speculated that Green Bay is going to take a tight end at No. 15.

Will the Jets go tight end at 13? Unlikely. Is it possible? It always is.

Calijah Kancey, DT

Obviously, if Jalen Carter fell to No. 13, the Jets would run his name up to the podium. That’s highly unlikely to happen, though, even with all of Carter’s off-the-field issues.

Calijah Kancey is exactly the type of defensive tackle the Jets often seek: undersized, one-gapping, quick to penetrate. He is not great against the run due to his size, but he was a dominant pass rusher last season.

Charles Davis of NFL.com already mocked Kancey to the Jets at No. 13. This pick is considered high for Kancey, as the consensus big board has him as the 23rd-ranked prospect and projects him going No. 18 to Detroit.

Still, the Jets do need a defensive tackle. If the consensus top three offensive tackles are off the board (Pete Skoronski, Paris Johnson Jr., Broderick Jones), they may hope that Dawand Jones drops to the second round or prefer Anton Harrison vs. overdrafting Darnell Wright or Jones. In that case, would they consider another pass-rushing nightmare to play beside Quinnen Williams?

My question is why the Jets would do this when they already have John Franklin-Myers. Jermaine Johnson and Micheal Clemons are good enough edge-setters that the team could slide JFM inside and have him play that exact role. Still, the Jets prefer Franklin-Myers on the edge and sliding inside on third down only, so Kancey might make sense.

Then again, why the Jets prefer Franklin-Myers outside may say something about what they want from a starting DT. Maybe they are more focused on the run than they’ve appeared.

It’s also possible that the Jets trade down a bit (if someone wants JSN or Will Levis if he falls) and then take Kancey at that spot.

Follow Rivka Boord’s articles on Twitter @rivka_boord

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Rivka Boord has followed the Jets since the age of five. She is known locally for her in-depth knowledge of football. She hopes to empower young women to follow their dreams and join the sports conversation. Boord's background in analytics infuses her articles with unique insights into the state of the Jets' franchise and the NFL as a whole.
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5 months ago

The best shot at winning is having the best offense. I know there are exceptions. Whoever scores the most points wins. Having the best O line means you can kill time running the ball while keeping your opponent off the field. This also saves your defense from being too tired. I would love one of the 3 big tackles (Skoronski being my fave) to be drafted with the 13th pick. For fun, I would love Mauch in the second. The fun we would have with that guy on and off the field would be immeasurable. His smile alone gives people joy. He has a Thurmon Munson heart and authenticity. Are you all sick of seeing the ball snapped to our QB and he either runs away or gets smacked? Are you sick of the other team’s QB standing there and pick apart our D trying to decide who to throw it to? I am!! Lets just do the boring thing and get 2 high quality starters on the O line and get whatevs after that.

Jonathan Richter
Jonathan Richter
6 months ago

Kelce was drafted in the 3rd Rd, and Kittle in the 5th, so no, I don’t want to take a TE in the 1st round, especially in a draft that is supposed to be really deep at the position.

Peter Buell
Peter Buell
6 months ago

They can always sign Ben Jones and bring back Fant who is still available and projected at about $3m.
That could free them up for DT or possibly the top WR.

Matt Galemmo
Matt Galemmo
6 months ago

I think one of these guys plus Broderick Jones can be available in the early-to-mid twenties. I don’t know what one, but I also don’t know that it matters. JSN is trending up, I’ve seen Kancey mocked all over the place, and the TE order hasn’t seemed to settle yet (it feels like Kincaid is now battling for the top spot with Sam LaPorta entering the discussion). With Levis falling and JSN, Nolan Smith, LaPorta, Bijan, 3 different corners, 4 different edges all rising I think 13 might be a valuable spot for a lot of teams, but 18-25 might be the sweetest spot in the draft. Add another second round pick and the Jets might be able to come away with three players that can make a difference season.

6 months ago

I can see DL for sure. The “why” is because listening to Saleh they value the DL more than any other position. They think it’s the only position group that can take away everything. They like their rotation, and if we are being honest, it did lead them to defensive success last season. They NEED a DT, perhaps more than an OT. If you consider getting AVT, and Becton back is like adding 2-1st round draft picks to the OL. I can totally see and warrant a DT at 13.

TE is in play for sure, maybe not at 13 but if they trade back to later in the 1st I like Kincaid. He’s the type of dynamic TE prospect that can change offenses.