New York Jets fans have officially begun grinding YouTube highlight reels of 2024 draft prospects
Well, Jets fans, you made it to November 20 before adding “Tankathon” to your bookmarked tabs. While it falls well short of last season’s arrival date to the famous draft-order tracker, it sure beats the 2019-21 era when it happened in September each year! Right?
With a grotesque 32-6 loss that was so taxing on the eyes that it would scare aliens away from invading Earth, the Jets now have a 1% chance of making the playoffs, according to the New York Times’ predictive simulator.
For all intents and purposes, it feels as if the Jets’ season has come to an end. It’s a disappointingly early conclusion for a team that entered the season with the seventh-best odds to win the Super Bowl at most sportsbooks, including the fourth-best odds in the AFC.
While rumors of a mid-December return for Aaron Rodgers continue to loom, we would have to question Rodgers’ sanity if he chooses to come back and play within the offensive unit he watched on Sunday. The pipe dream of Rodgers descending from the sky to save the Jets with his glued-together Achilles has nearly faded out.
Of course, this is the NFL, a league where narratives can change in the blink of an eye, so the Jets can pull everyone back onto their side with a shocking win on Black Friday. The season is not officially over just yet. And, hey, the 2009 Jets were 4-6, too. Crazy things happen in this sport.
But we have not seen the Jets score more than 13 points in a game since Josh Dobbs was still an Arizona Cardinal and the 2023-24 NBA season had not even begun. It’s safe to say that Jets fans will believe their team can defeat the high-octane Miami Dolphins when they see it. For now, most of the fanbase seems to be turning the page to 2024.
As we sit here in the heart of a losing streak that essentially ended the Jets’ most anticipated season in over a decade, we have an intimate feel for the issues that are at the root of this franchise’s problems. Before anything misleading happens over the next seven games to distract us from the real roadblocks that are standing between this organization and the promised land, let’s map out a few different routes the Jets can take in the first round of the 2024 draft.
The Jets will be keeping their 2024 first-round pick, as Rodgers will not play 65% of the Jets’ offensive snaps this year (even if he comes back in a few weeks). What they choose to do with it will play a massive role in determining the franchise’s future. Here are some of the options.
1. Draft a quarterback
While the Jets hope Rodgers can come back healthy in 2024 and lead the Super Bowl chase that he promised in 2023, they have to remain prepared for their future beyond Rodgers. And based on what happened this September, the future beyond Rodgers could start as early as the first week of the 2024 season. Let’s all hope that doesn’t happen again, but the Jets cannot count on anything with a 40-year-old quarterback coming off an Achilles injury who could not make it through one drive in his first season.
Because of the extreme uncertainty surrounding Rodgers’ durability, effectiveness, and long-term plans at this point of his career, it can be argued that the Jets should draft his future replacement as soon as the first round of the 2024 draft. This would give the Jets some legitimate hope to fall back on at the quarterback position in case Rodgers goes down in 2024, or even if he retires in 2025.
Plus, drafting a quarterback in 2024 would allow the Jets to take a route they have not taken with a highly drafted young quarterback in a very long time: the developmental route.
The Jets have continuously thrown their highly drafted young quarterbacks into the fire and watched them burn – Zach Wilson, Sam Darnold, Geno Smith, and Mark Sanchez all started in Week 1 of their rookie years. It’s about time the Jets try to let a young quarterback learn for a little bit. And who better to learn behind than a four-time MVP?
2. Draft an offensive lineman
You cannot fault Joe Douglas for a lack of effort when it comes to the Jets’ offensive line woes. He’s drafted two first-round offensive linemen in Mekhi Becton and Alijah Vera-Tucker, including an aggressive trade-up for Vera-Tucker. He drafted Joe Tippmann in the second round and has even drafted three tackles in the fourth round. He signed Laken Tomlinson and Connor McGovern to contracts that rank near the top of the league at their respective positions. George Fant was also a fairly expensive signing.
Unfortunately for Douglas, just about every move has been a whiff.
A lot of it can be pinned on bad injury luck, particularly for Becton and Vera-Tucker. Still, even beyond the injury luck, Douglas’ talent evaluations have been poor at this position.
Tomlinson has been a massive swing-and-a-miss, performing like a bottom-tier starting guard despite his lucrative contract. McGovern shows occasional flashes but consistently ranks as one of the worst pass-blocking centers. Duane Brown was signed to be a high-level backup but has not shown he has left in the tank at this stage of his career. Douglas has also not discovered any gems with his late-round picks, undrafted free agent signings, or scrapheap pickups.
Despite all of Douglas’ efforts, the Jets are essentially back to square one with the offensive line. This is one of the worst units in the NFL and the Jets need to invest a significant amount of capital into it this offseason if they are serious about competing in 2024. Using a first-round pick would go a long way toward rebuilding the foundation of this decrepit group.
3. Draft a wide receiver
Quarterback and offensive line are the biggest weaknesses on the Jets’ roster, but wide receiver is right behind them. Garrett Wilson is the unit’s only saving grace (although even he is having a somewhat underwhelming season), but after him, there is no team in the NFL with a worse wide receiver unit from WR2 on down.
The Jets need more wideouts who can create playmaking opportunities with quality route-running. Right now, teams are doubling Garrett Wilson because they do not think anybody else on the offense can win a one-on-one matchup, and they are proven correct every week.
4. Trade the pick for Davante Adams
At the trade deadline, it was reported that the Jets made an attempt to trade for Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Davante Adams but were rebuffed due to the Raiders’ insistence on keeping the star receiver. Yesterday, the Adams-Jets storyline resurfaced again as Adam Schefter reported the Jets are expected to make another aggressive push in the offseason.
Adding Adams would certainly go a long way toward fixing the Jets’ issues at wide receiver. With a duo of Adams and Garrett Wilson, the Jets would have two route-running extraordinaires. Opponents could no longer double one player and succeed. They would have to pick their poison. Double Wilson and Adams will punish his one-on-one on the other side – and vice versa.
Adams’ chemistry with Aaron Rodgers is also a huge plus. Because of Adams’ experience with Rodgers, the Jets could feel very confident about his transition into their system. The fit is perfect.
Still, there are some questions to consider when it comes to a potential Adams trade. First of all, what type of package makes sense for him?
Should the Jets really give up a crucial first-round pick for a 31-year-old receiver when they could use that pick to bolster the offensive line in front of a 40-year-old quarterback, or even draft that 40-year-old’s replacement? If it will require a first-rounder to get Adams, the Jets will certainly have a tough decision to make as to whether or not it is worth it.
Secondly, the Jets have to think about Adams’ contract. Adams is in the second year of a five-year, $140 million contract that includes $65.7 million guaranteed. It is unknown how the contract details would be worked out in the event of a trade, but this is a lot of money attached to an aging player.
The Jets would need to be careful to avoid making a financial investment they might regret later on. With numerous talented young players who are due for extensions soon and plenty of holes to fill on offense, how much cap space would be wise to allocate to Adams as he proceeds into his thirties?
5. Draft a defensive lineman
I’m joking. (Could you imagine the reaction to this?)
5 (For real). Trade the pick for someone outside of Adams
Davante Adams is the easiest trade to envision, but the Jets could also trade the pick for another star veteran that we are not talking about just yet. Most likely, this trade would be for a wide receiver or an offensive lineman. Using this first-round pick on anything other than those two positions or a quarterback would seem incredibly foolish.
In most cases, it is short-sighted to enter the draft with a mentality of “we can only draft [position/position group] with this pick.” Taking the best player available is usually the right call (barring an obvious need for a franchise quarterback). This situation is different, though.
The Jets have one of the most lopsided rosters in NFL history. Their defense, while imperfect (as yesterday’s dud showed), is absolutely stacked with young talent that will be around for the long term. The offense, on the other hand, is a stunning disasterpiece that shouldn’t be possible to construct in the extremely offense-friendly NFL.
There are many ways the Jets can go with this pick, but the bottom line is simple: If they do not come away with a blue-chip offensive player, it will cause major damage to the team’s chances of competing in 2024 and beyond. The Jets are starving for elite offensive talent and this pick is their best bet to get it.
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