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NY Jets’ draft class hints at scheme change and more additions

Braelon Allen
Braelon Allen, Getty Images

The New York Jets indicated potential remaining moves with their NFL draft selections

After the endless debate about the New York Jets’ potential moves in the NFL draft, the wait is finally over. In many ways, the Jets telegraphed both their approach to the 2024 season and potential future moves with their selections — and lack of selections. While Jets X-Factor will have in-depth coverage of every player the team selected, here are some of my initial thoughts about the draft and what the Jets may do going forward.

The gap scheme change is complete

The Jets indicated they were seeking to change to a gap scheme by bringing in John Simpson and Morgan Moses. If there was any question about that change after the Olu Fashanu pick, the Jets’ selection of two power backs solidified it.

At 6-foot-1¼ (95th percentile) and 235 pounds (95th percentile), fourth-round pick Braelon Allen is one of the bigger running backs in the NFL. He adds an 81st-percentile wingspan and 91st-percentile bench press. In the fifth round, the Jets added Isaiah Davis at 6-foot-0¼ (77th percentile) and 218 pounds (65th), another power back.

According to Zack Rosenblatt of The Athletic, the two moves spell trouble for Izzy Abanikanda, the Jets’ fifth-round pick in 2023. Abanikanda is a speed rusher who struggled to find playing time as a rookie. If anything, the switch to a gap scheme was a poor sign for him, but the two running back selections may have sealed it.

… and the Jets also plan on running the ball a ton

Two running backs might be overkill, but the Jets clearly plan to ram the ball down opponents’ throats.

There’s room to add another receiver, but it’s probably not Tyler Boyd

The Jets traded up seven spots to select Malachi Corley, whom they were reportedly trying to nab from at least pick 41. He was the lone receiver they took in the draft. That leaves them with Allen Lazard as their fourth receiver and potentially a starting 11 personnel receiver if Mike Williams is not ready to begin the season.

Given Williams’ health, it would behoove the Jets to sign another veteran receiver. As Robert Saleh said, they’ve been in contact with Corey Davis, meaning they’re likely still open to such an addition. Still, considering that Corley played in the slot on 85.9% of his snaps in 2023 and 91.6% for his college career, that veteran is unlikely to be Tyler Boyd.

Boyd is one of the most exclusive slot receivers in the NFL, playing there on 81.6% of his snaps for his career. It’s improbable that the Jets would trade up for a slot receiver in the third round and then sign a starting slot.

Some other available options include Davis, Michael Thomas, Michael Gallup, Odell Beckham Jr., Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and D.J. Chark.

The Jets are content with their DT room

I’m somewhat surprised that the Jets didn’t add a defensive tackle in the draft. Trading John Franklin-Myers solidifies the fact that they’re truly fine with Javon Kinlaw, Leki Fotu, and Solomon Thomas as their defensive tackle depth. That mystifies me to a large extent, as Kinlaw is a clear downgrade from Quinton Jefferson, and missing Franklin-Myers’ interior pass rush on third down will be a deficit, as well.

I’m not sure about their safety room, though

Even after re-signing Chuck Clark and Ashtyn Davis, the Jets’ safety room is thin. Davis did a good job in his sub-linebacker role, but he’s not trustworthy playing outside the box. Other than returning starter Tony Adams, the only other safety on the roster is Jarrick Bernard-Converse.

With Quandre Diggs and Justin Simmons still available, it might be wise for the Jets to add a safety in an all-in season. Mr. Irrelevant Jaylen Key is not going to move the needle at the position.

Connor McGovern is likely coming back

Since the Jets didn’t add an interior offensive lineman, Wes Schweitzer is their only NFL-caliber backup. That means to me that the Jets are likely going to bring back Connor McGovern. There are other options available, including Andrus Peat and Halapoulivaati Vaitai, but I think McGovern is the most probable add.

The Jets really believe in the developmental QB thing

The Jets may have bungled Zach Wilson’s reset in 2023, but that apparently didn’t turn them off the concept. Jordan Travis was heavily linked to them in the draft process, so it wasn’t surprising to see him come to New York in the fifth round. Still, with Tyrod Taylor in the house, it will likely be a redshirt rookie season for Travis.

Tempering expectations for a fifth-round quarterback is wise. If he could develop into Taylor’s successor, that would be a big win for the Jets. Aaron Rodgers is one of the best quarterbacks to learn behind, and Taylor is no slouch, either. It’s an excellent situation for a rookie to be drafted into.

Will McDonald’s opportunity is here

The trade for Haason Reddick seemed to bode poorly for Will McDonald. Now that John Franklin-Myers is gone, though, McDonald will likely slide into Bryce Huff’s role. This is essentially what the Jets envisioned when they drafted McDonald. A 40%+ snap share can still make his first-round pedigree worthwhile. This is McDonald’s opportunity to explode in Year 2.

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Psi
Psi
23 days ago

One interesting aspect of this scheme change is how much of an influence Todd Downing may be having over the O moving forward. Seems like the running scheme is resembling what the Titans ran under Downing. I personally think he’s a way better coordinator than Hackett and after last year’s nightmare on O, I hope Saleh’s moving in this direction reflects a reality that even with Rodgers, Hackett’s influence must be diluted.

DFargas
DFargas
24 days ago

Definitely agree on the DT and S positions being overlooked and kind of shaky right now. I was thinking/hoping that the Jets would use at least one of their picks on a DT. I don’t like how much emphasis has been placed on Saleh’s belief in two guys–Solomon and Kinlaw–who are essentially first round busts. It’s like he’s trying to re-write history, which usually doesn’t work. Otherwise, it’s real intriguing how the Jets seem to want to play more smash-mouth football with their two new tank-like RBs. I thought that was part of the reason behind their pick up last year of Frank Gore, but of course they didn’t have the OL to use his abilities. The Jets inability to pick up first downs, or to do so running the ball, in short yardage situations was sad last year. Hopefully, that’s now a thing of the past.

Jets71
Jets71
24 days ago
Reply to  DFargas

Frank Gore played for the Jets in 2020

Jets71
Jets71
24 days ago

Good overview, I like Kinlaw a bit more than most, and think they will be able to get more out of him than what he showed in SF. I also think they may sign a DL with pro experience. One thing Saleh has proven in his stint as HC of the NYJ is that he can develop defensive players. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt on the DL.

Perhaps one of these backs they drafted could be used in a two back set as a fullback? I def think Saleh is tired of the OL getting pushed around (noted on hard knocks) and he’s taking a page out of the Sean McVay playbook by going to more of a “gap” scheme. I like the move, and they have done a nice job bringing in the players that fit. McGovern has always struck me as a “soft” center, I’m not sure he’s coming back, they may look for someone else as an interior OL.

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