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Sabo: The New York Jets’ final 2024 NFL draft big board

New York Jets' 2024 NFL Draft Big Board
New York Jets' 2024 NFL Draft Big Board (Getty Images)

The Jets’ player and situational big boards must mesh together

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to turn the page. Finally and officially, the infinite number of mock drafts can be stuffed aside, your hopes and dreams for a particular prospect can be neatly tucked away, and your disagreeableness regarding other fans’ opinions can simmer down.

The 2024 NFL draft is here.

Thursday, April 25, 2024, at 8:00 p.m. ET, is when Round 1 commences while kicking things off with the Chicago Bears. Joe Douglas‘s New York Jets are slotted nine picks later, which brings us to our topic of the day: the New York Jets’ final 2024 NFL draft big board.

Although I previously unveiled a Jets big board, that one viewed things from a Jets-specific lens—per what I believed the team was thinking. This one ranks both the player and situational lists through my lens. And yes, having both a player and situational big board is crucial when navigating the arduous event that instantly injects fresh franchise blood.

Let’s start with the Jets’ NFL draft player big board.

Player big board

  1. Marvin Harrison Jr. (WR-Ohio State)
  2. Malik Nabers (WR-LSU)
  3. Joe Alt (OT-Notre Dame)
  4. Brock Bowers (TE-Georgia)
  5. J.C. Latham (OT-Alabama)
  6. Olu Fashanu (OT-Penn State)
  7. Brian Thomas Jr. (WR-LSU)
  8. Rome Odunze (WR-Washington)
  9. Taliese Fuaga (OL-Oregon State)
  10. Troy Fautanu (OL-Washington)

It’s quite feasible that USC quarterback Caleb Williams is atop every team’s big board, including the New York Jets. How would the Jets react if the kid magically fell to him at No. 10? Does it fit their current plans?

This type of question is why two big boards usually exist in an organization’s war room. The player big board reigns supreme as the ultimate destination, whereas the situational big board (draft strategy) is the navigation en route to the endpoint.

With Aaron Rodgers at the helm, no quarterbacks appear on the Jets’ player big board.

Marvin Harrison Jr. and Malik Nabers are in a tier of their own

Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. leads the way, with LSU weapon Malik Nabers securely in the two-hole. These two options are in a class of their own—at the very top of the wishlist.

Notre Dame hog Joe Alt is close to the upper tier, but he falls in the third hold by his lonesome. Although some (such as Jet X’s Joe Blewett) have J.C. Latham ahead of Alt, I’ll lean on the non-film factors such as pedigree and intangibles. (All things being equal, fans should consider Blewett’s football talent evaluation far more than mine, considering the drastic difference in film hours spent on the prospects this past offseason.)

Brock Bowers at No. 10 is more than fine

Despite a solid chunk of the fanbase not wanting to go tight end at 10, Brock Bowers is more than worthy in that spot.

Admittedly, I don’t love the idea of taking a tight end that early—as the position depth is always plentiful, every year—but Bowers’s entire package is superior at his position.

Sure, the overall transition will take some time. Tight end might be the toughest position to transition to at the NFL level (save for quarterback), but that’s mainly due to the inline stuff. Blowers playing in line, trying to get up to speed on the Jets rushing, and blocking concepts will take some time.

However, he should have no problem holding down the tight end role in 11 personnel opposite and/or alongside Garrett Wilson in the slot.

Not a Rome Odunze fan at No. 10

It’s not that I’d completely pass on Rome Odunze (I would indeed draft him); it’s instead about his value. And make no mistake about it: The NFL draft is a pure value-driven event. There’s no way around it, considering each slot carries superior or inferior value—while competing against other teams.

When evaluating Odunze’s best attributes—body control, deep-ball tracking, possession skills—one realizes that those talents don’t necessarily translate as well to the NFL courtesy of the increase in defensive coverage talent. I do love a potential technical at the wideout spot, but it’s a tough pill to swallow when drafting a potential “technician” in the top 10.

Unlike Harrison and Nabers, Odunze does not possess all-world explosiveness. A great case can be made that it could take Odunze some time at the next level—before he truly busts out. That’s exactly what this Aaron Rodgers-led Jets offense does not want.

Ultimately, I believe Odunze is closer to the late-first-round guys than Harrison and Nabers. The odds that Rome Odunze will turn into a top-notch technician like Davante Adams are incredibly long. This is why explosiveness has to be the goal in the top 10.

For those reasons, Brian Thomas Jr. slightly edges Odunze (based on the higher ceiling). There’s no question that Odunze is the more polished wideout, but again, we’re talking about a top 10 or first half of Round 1 selection. If it’s late Round 1 or anywhere beyond, I’d prefer Odunze over Thomas.

Situational big board

  1. Trade up for Marvin Harrison Jr. and sign David Bakhtiari
  2. Trade up for Malik Nabers and sign David Bakhtiari
  3. Draft Joe Alt at No. 10 and draft a mid-round WR
  4. Trade down for Brock Bowers and sign David Bakhtiari
  5. Trade down for J.C. Latham and draft a mid-round WR
  6. Draft Brock Bowers at No. 10 and sign David Bakhtiari
  7. Trade down for Brian Thomas Jr. and sign David Bakhtiari
  8. Draft J.C. Latham at No. 10 and draft a mid-round WR
  9. Trade down for Olu Fashanu, Taliese Fuaga or Troy Fautanu, and draft a mid-round WR
  10. Draft Olu Fashanu at No. 10 and draft a mid-round WR

Trade up for the stud WR leads the way

Like the player big board, the New York Jets’ final situational big board has Marvin Harrison Jr. and Malik Nabers leading the way. A trade-up for either wideout, preferably Harrison Jr. for offensive fit, while knowing David Bakhtiari is in the bag as OT3, is the top result.

A lot obviously depends on how low either wideout can fall and what the Jets have to give up to move up, but it’s the optimal avenue in this upcoming win-now campaign.

Joe Alt falling is an unexpected blessing

Right behind the trade-up for an elite weapon is an unexpected result: Joe Alt somehow drops to No. 10.

Even if the Jets have their minds firmly on a weapon in Round 1, they shouldn’t hesitate at No. 10 if the Notre Dame stud somehow falls to them. His stature and pedigree are too perfect to punt on at this spot.

Besides, much like the tight end position, wide receiver is deep every year—thanks to how the game of football is played in the modern era. Unlike yesteryear, it’s tougher for offensive linemen to transition to the professional level, whereas receivers have an easier time. If it’s Alt at No. 10, drafting one of the mid-round WRs who drops to the third round would be the Jets’ next obvious move.

Trade down for Brock Bowers or an OT

Without a second-round pick (the Aaron Rodgers trade), trading down for a falling Brock Bowers or one of the offensive tackles is No. 4 and 5 on the situational big board.

Interestingly, the optimal results are dominated by trade-up and trade-down situations, and it’s all due to OT depth and the awkwardness of drafting a TE at 10.

Remember, since TE is deep, it’s extremely possible that Bowers falls a bit. Let’s not forget about the 2023 NFL draft that saw nearly every tight end somewhat drop in expected draft value (Dalton Kinkaid, Michael Mayer and Sam LaPorta especially).

New York Jets 2024 NFL draft prediction

Although a trade-up or trade-down are my overwhelming favorites, the big money is on Brock Bowers at No. 10. And it’s tough to defy that thought.

While it’s true that Joe Douglas deems value as the most critical aspect of the NFL draft—which places “Bowers at No. 10” into the doghouse—the Jets will have to rely on their big board if no trade partners come to the table.

It’s not easy to pull off any trade, no less an NFL draft-day trade.

So, I predict that the New York Jets will select Georgia tight-end Brock Bowers at No. 10. If Douglas can neither trade up nor trade down, and Marvin Harrison Jr., Malik Nabers and Joe Alt are gone, I cannot see him tabbing anybody but Bowers in the 10-hole. The big board just won’t allow it.

Value-wise, I can easily see the Jets wanting to desperately trade down in that scenario, with an eye on Bowers, Brian Thomas Jr. or one of the offensive tackles (specifically J.C. Latham), but the odds are against it.

The best part about all of this talk is quite obvious: Pretty soon, it won’t matter. All the speculation ends as the madness of the 2024 NFL draft unfolds in real-time.

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Robert Papalia
Robert Papalia
23 days ago

I am sorry to disagree with you on this one. Bowers at 10 is a mistake. No tight end in recent memory has made a splash impact in the first round. And if Bowers does not contribute right away the howls of the Jet fans will be loud and clear. The Jets need to win games right out of the gate. And if they don`t the noise will only get louder. Especially if they point to Bowers as a big reason for the problem. Better take a offensive lineman when you know injuries will rear their head again on the Jets line. Just saying.

DFargas
DFargas
23 days ago

With so many options for the Jets, I think this is one year we will find out a lot about what JD, how he thinks and evaluates players, what he values in a football team, how he strategizes, if he lets outside pressures dictate to him, etc. In the past drafts, the first couple of pick were almost no brainers since the team’s needs were so clear: Becton, Wilson, Gardner, etc. You could pretty much predict his pick by the prognosticators. Last year, the MacDonald pick was a wild card, but that was because the player they needed was gone. Maybe it showed that he was already planning for the departure of Huff. But this year is even more wide open. It’s all about JD’s judgement, priorities, and plans. I think he will do the best thing for the team.

Robert Papalia
Robert Papalia
23 days ago
Reply to  DFargas

I hope you are right. I just don`t see it. He is catering to Rodgers with that #10 pick. Unless he does something surprising.

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