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10 random NY Jets draft thoughts with two days to go

Marvin Harrison Jr.
Marvin Harrison Jr., Getty Images

The heated debates over college kids we just started caring about 4 months ago are almost over

No need for a rambling intro. You know the drill. There are two days until the NFL draft.

Here are 10 random New York Jets draft thoughts on my mind.

1. Everyone chill out

To start us off, I want to help get everyone in the right mindset going into the draft. Gather round the fire – started via Vernon Gholston and Christian Hackenberg jerseys – for a little draft therapy session.

I feel like people get way too passionate (in a negative way) about the draft for something that history has proven is a complete crapshoot. Like, can we all just relax and have nuanced conversations without wanting to rip each other’s heads off? Can we just talk some ball?

Everyone is entitled to have their opinions and share them with the world – I have my opinions and I write 3,000-word articles about them. But what I don’t do is go on Twitter and clap back at everyone replying to my posts who disagrees with me, or go on the prowl seeking out differing opinions so I can tell them why they’re wrong. Such tiring and pointless endeavors.

I just find it downright hilarious when I see fans on social media getting so intense arguing about college kids who they never cared a lick about until four months ago, when we have decades of data telling us there is essentially nothing we can do to accurately predict their futures. I’m not saying people should just throw their hands up and never talk about the draft, but do we have to get into 15-tweet reply chains and personally attack people because they say “Hey, I’m not totally sure this guy is the best value at pick X”? Relax. No need to get heated over a glorified sequence of dice rolls.

I have a harsh truth to share: I don’t know anything about this draft class. But guess what? Neither do you. And neither does any die-hard draftnik, NFL scout, or NFL general manager. Nobody does!

If this whole draft thing were so easy to predict, then 10 years after every draft, the No. 1 pick would be the best player in the class and each player would get progressively worse as you go down the board. The second pick would be the second-best, the third pick would be the third-best, and so on.

Doesn’t work that way though, does it? No, not even close. Because at the end of the day, the draft is random.

I have my stances on this year’s draft class and what I think the Jets should or shouldn’t do. And there are many people whose stances are the complete opposite of mine. While I may vehemently disagree with them, I don’t feel the need to argue or defend my perspective, because I know that my guess is just as meaningless as theirs. So why bother?

This NFL draft, I urge everyone to just sit back, crack open your favorite beverage, and enjoy the show. Embrace the fact that none of us know anything. Once you accept that, analyzing the draft becomes a lot more enjoyable. It’s something I didn’t understand for a long time, and I suffered through many sleepless nights after trying to defend players like Josh Rosen from the haters (mildly exaggerating about the sleepless nights but I did love Rosen as a prospect).

But this offseason, I’m going into draft weekend feeling more chilled out than ever before. I’ve let go of the sense that I definitively know what’s right and what’s wrong. This has made it more enjoyable to just kick back and analyze the prospects in whatever way I want to, as I no longer feel the need to form strong opinions that I hope will be proven right in the future.

None of the over-analyzing, predictions, mock drafts, or big boards really matter in the end. Let’s all accept it and just watch how everything plays out.

2. The Jets can’t have a bad outcome on Day 1 (barring something shocking)

Barring the selection of a defensive player, there really isn’t anything the Jets can do in the first round that I would consider a bad outcome. There isn’t a position they need to come away with since they addressed all of their desperate issues in March. They’ve put themselves in a luxurious position.

Sure, I feel some outcomes are better than others – Brock Bowers at 10 isn’t my cup of tea, for example. But even if they do end up with Bowers, that’s a tremendous prospect you’re adding to an Aaron Rodgers-led offense, and he’d also be filling a starting spot that will be vacated in 2025. Hard to be mad about that. I’d personally prefer to see the Jets end up with a wide receiver or an offensive lineman, so Bowers is my least favorite choice out of those three options, but he’s not a “bad” option by any stretch.

3. Trading up for a WR has become my preference

I’ve come around on trading up for a wide receiver as my top option for the Jets. Whether it’s Rome Odunze or Malik Nabers slipping to 8, or even the blockbuster move of going up to 5 for Marvin Harrison Jr., I would like to see the Jets double down on their all-in mentality by climbing the board to ensure the acquisition of another elite weapon for Aaron Rodgers.

It comes down to this for me: When the Jets are preparing for a shootout with the Chiefs in the AFC championship game and Aaron Rodgers has Garrett Wilson, Mike Williams, Breece Hall, and Rome Odunze at his disposal… are the Jets really going to care about the later-round pick they gave up to ensure they could get Odunze? Let’s not split hairs in win-now mode.

I acknowledge that the team moving down tends to win the majority of draft-day trades. And I’m not trying to be that “screw the picks” guy. Trading up is a risky move, especially with the Jets already lacking a second-round pick. But for this Jets team in this situation, where you know 2024 is your best shot, moving up to secure an elite wide receiver is the best path to maximizing the year-one impact of this draft class – in my opinion.

4. It’s also what I think the Jets will do

Not only is trading up for a wide receiver my preferred move, but I’m also starting to get the hunch it’s what the Jets will actually do.

Joe Douglas talked extensively about the idea of making a trade at his press conference last week, hinting it’s something on the forefront of his mind. Plus, Daniel Jeremiah predicted they will trade-up for a wide receiver. More than anything, I think trading up for a wide receiver is the potential draft-day decision that is most closely aligned with their all-in offseason mentality.

My current prediction: The Jets trade up to No. 8 for Rome Odunze.

5. The Jets will take a QB (and they should)

Speaking of Douglas’ press conference, arguably his most definitive statement was his declaration that he would love for the Jets to draft a quarterback every year.

“For us, it’s funny, I was going back and looking just through some drafts, some drafts the way that teams handled the quarterback position. I went back and looked at how the Packers in the ’90s. You draft a guy like Mark Brunell in the fifth round and then you draft (Matt) Hasselbeck in the sixth round and you develop. They were a quarterback farm when Farve was there. Aaron Brooks. Then they drafted Aaron (Rodgers) in the first round, but I would love to be a quarterback factory.

“I would love to have quarterbacks that we take every year in the draft. Even if you hit on two or three like the Packers did, you can really [turn] those into future picks or they develop into starters elsewhere like Mark Brunell and Aaron Brooks and Hasselbeck all did.”

Douglas didn’t make any effort to hide his intentions behind cookie-cutter quotes here. It seems very clear he’s eyeing a late-round quarterback.

And I think it’s a smart move. It’s hard to hit on quarterbacks in the draft. Jets fans know this all too well. So why not take as many rolls of the dice as you can? Keep throwing stuff at the wall every year until something sticks. If you draft a quarterback post-round-one in five consecutive drafts, four of them might fizzle out, but there’s a good chance that one of them will be the next Dak Prescott, Brock Purdy, or Kirk Cousins. Hitting once makes the four busted picks worth the while.

The fewer shots you take on quarterbacks, the longer it will take to find your guy. It’s smart to maintain a nonstop pipeline at the game’s most important position. Don’t wait to take your next chance on a quarterback until your hand is forced. Stay ahead of the game.

6. Would love to see the Jets prioritize the kick returner role

The NFL drastically overhauled the kickoff system for the 2024 season. Kickoff returns are going to be substantially more frequent than they were in recent years, and the distance of the average kickoff return also figures to skyrocket.

Kickoff returners are about to become much more valuable. In recent years, kickoffs became a nearly obsolete facet of the sport. But now, if you don’t have a good kickoff returner, you’re going to feel it when you jealously watch numerous teams around the league win games because of their returner.

The Jets do not have a promising kickoff return option on their roster. They failed to register a kick return of longer than 34 yards in 2023 and are yet to add any players with returner ability this offseason.

I would love to see the Jets take someone on Day 3 solely for their return abilities – someone who slips in the draft because of their rawness at their actual position or other question marks unrelated to special teams play, but has a proven track record of returning dominance. It’s the type of pick that might be scrutinized at first, but Brant Boyer and the Jets will get the last laugh in a few months when the football world catches on to how vital kickoff returners are about to become.

7. Three defensive needs to think about with the later selections

Currently armed with eight selections, the Jets will probably draft a defensive player at some point, as much an all-offense class would be exciting.

When I think of directions I’d like to see the Jets go defensively, there are three positions that come to mind: defensive tackle, cornerback, and safety.

The Jets seem to have their four-man rotation set in stone at defensive tackle: Quinnen Williams, Javon Kinlaw, Solomon Thomas, and Leki Fotu. However, the back-three of this unit is relatively uninspiring. There is plenty of room for improvement there. Not to mention, the group is devoid of youth and upside. The Jets should try to get a pipeline going here.

Cornerback is a sneaky long-term need. D.J. Reed and Michael Carter II are both set for free agency after 2024. The Jets would obviously love to keep both, but with so many talented players to pay and not a ton of cap space to do it, they may have to say goodbye to some beloved players, as they did this year with Bryce Huff. It would be wise to start building a pipeline at cornerback so they could be prepared for the potential exit of Reed or Carter II.

Safety is certainly on the shopping list as well. The recent return of Ashtyn Davis reduces their desperation at the position, as they now have solid depth with Davis, Tony Adams, and Chuck Clark in addition to 2023 sixth-round pick Jarrick Bernard-Converse. However, without any solidified “great” starters on the roster (Adams still has room to grow and Clark is coming off an ACL injury), the Jets should still seek to add as much talent to this position as possible. If they find a diamond in the rough at safety with one of their late-round picks, there is definitely a path for him to immediately steal a starting spot.

8. Potential “shocker” first-round pick

Oftentimes, it feels like all of the pre-draft discourse in Jetsland will center around a select list of players only for the Jets to do something completely out of left field. Look no further than last year, when the Jets took… Will McDonald? I ran a search of all tweets including the words “Will McDonald Jets” prior to last year’s draft, and not one person had ever linked McDonald to the Jets on Twitter.

In 2022, there was hardly any discourse linking Breece Hall to the Jets because they already had Michael Carter coming off a stellar rookie season. Then they traded up to get him in the early second round.

In 2021, few people talked about Alijah Vera-Tucker since it was assumed he would never get close to the Jets’ pick, but then they traded up to get him.

I got to thinking about who this year’s surprise pick could be. I’m talking about anybody outside of this list: Rome Odunze, Brock Bowers, Joe Alt, Taliese Fuaga, Olu Fashanu, JC Latham, Troy Fautanu, Marvin Harrison Jr., or Malik Nabers. I mean, it would definitely be a surprise if they got Harrison Jr. or Nabers, but plenty of people are talking about those two scenarios. I want something nobody is talking about.

Here’s one that came to mind: LSU wide receiver Brian Thomas Jr. at 10.

There has been some talk about the Jets targeting Thomas if they move down, but what if they like him enough – and want a wide receiver enough – to just take him at 10? If he’s a plausible pick in the teens, it really that far-fetched to grab him at 10 if the Jets cannot find a viable trade-down offer? Considering I see nobody talking about Thomas at 10, it seems like this would definitely be viewed as a collective shock. But I’m not ruling it out.

9. New logo and uniforms on stage!

I think the Jets hit a grand slam with their uniform and logo overhaul, and I can’t wait to see the new branding on stage in Detroit.

Above anything else, it will be great to see a real “1” on the first-round pick’s jersey when he takes the stage. The “1” in the previous jerseys’ font was so bizarre. Yes, Sauce Gardner gave it life with his success, but come on. It was just a straight line. Jermaine Johnson’s “11” looked like the pause symbol on a remote.

Good riddance, 2019-23 font of the No. 1 on the Jets’ jerseys.

10. Crazy week for New York sports

What an unbelievable week for Knicks/Rangers/Jets fans like myself. It’s already been a wild ride and we’ve barely even begun.

On Thursday night, while the Knicks are in Philadelphia seeking to take a 3-0 lead against the 76ers, the Jets will be on the clock in the first round making a selection that will play a pivotal role in determining whether they reach this year’s Super Bowl.

April 2024 will go down in the annals of New York sports history.

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mlesko73
mlesko73
28 days ago

I guess the Islanders don’t rate?
I know the Isles are the kings of blown leads this year (and down 2 games), but if you’re a Jets fan then the Islanders are the perfect hockey team for you.

christian herzeca
christian herzeca
29 days ago

I thought JD did a great job this FA period. He has also one fantastic draft going 3/3 with sauce, GW and JJ. and he whiffed with ZW, but some blame has to go to the O coaching incompetence of the jets…which has not yet been remedied.

but if JD can trade up for one of the top 3 WRs and pick a decent developmental OL (which means he would have to retain the round 3 pick in my mind), then he should get an extension playoffs or no. saleh should be the guy who gets canned without a playoff appearance.

btw, Thomas at 10 makes perfect sense if jets cant trade up for the top 3 and dont get high enough value from a trade down attempt.

Last edited 29 days ago by christian herzeca
Jets71
Jets71
29 days ago

Costello does a yearly “draft ranking” based on the last 5 drafts of teams in the NFL, based on a combination of rookie playing time, pro bowls, all pro, etc. The Jets ranked 5th. I agree Joe should get an extension regardless…he’s the best GM since Parcels. The idea we have to ignore things like injuries and circumstances just because of cliches like “you are what your record says you are’ is a bit overreaction. Yes, I know I’ll get a thumbs down for this but look at the real measuring stick for a GM. They ALL MISS on players, GM’s should be measured based on the collective group of talent. This team is more talented than when Joe got here, and that’s pretty much a fact.

I like Michael’s idea of trading up 2 spots for Odunze. There are lots of ways to fill out the OL depth.

DHB
DHB
29 days ago
Reply to  Jets71

I totally agree with both of you guys. I’ve always felt JD was excellent overall and comparing the rosters before and after he came will show you why. ESPN has just rated it second best in the league.

Some of the issues we’ve had have been beyond his control like ownership interference and Rodgers being last year’s de facto GM. Let JD do his job the way he wants to do it and we’ll be fine. Give him an extension and let him decide what to do with the coaching staff.

Jets71
Jets71
28 days ago
Reply to  DHB

Joe hired this staff when they restructured the organizational leadership making Joe the top “football guy”, and he’s basically been in charge. I don’t think Rogers was the de facto GM but I do think they put too much emphasis on “what Aaron might think.” I don’t think it’s something Rogers requires and I think they have learned something from it.

The coaching staff does have question marks but I hear a lot of love for Mike Vrabel who basically took a playoff team, coached them for six years, choked on a division playoff game when they had the best record, and basically didn’t do much with them (.540 winning percentage), yet Saleh is on year 3.

Saleh has to prove some things as a HC…for sure… but that defense didn’t get good by itself, and if we are being honest Saleh has probably had the worst QB play in the league the past 3 seasons. I like him, and as a young HC I see him learning as well. I’d like to see how this year plays out but he has proven he can develop defensive players, and Breece and Garret seem to be on their way, so I don’t share the Saleh hate. You can do much worse for a HC, and if they move on from him, they’d likely be betting on another young first year HC.

It’s Hackett don’t trust, and I do think that was one of those decisions mostly made of “what would Aaron want” and part because they really didn’t have a lot of options considering their situation. Saleh also made mention about adding someone to the offensive staff this offseason but it never materialized. I’m guessing there was nobody willing. Hopefully they can improve, IF and it’s only speculation at this point, but IF they are truly going more power “gap” run oriented it’s a step in the right direction.

The thing the Jets have NEVER done in my life is create stability. I’m willing to wait a bit longer with this GM/HC. I think they have the right ideas, and will need to manage some bumps but think they will grow into a good tandem.

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