The New York Jets did relatively well in this year’s NFL Draft but as always, it came with a few calculated risks. They finally found their potential franchise quarterback after selecting Brigham Young prospect Zach Wilson as the second overall pick, filling a gaping need of the squad. They also acquired a handful of extra picks via trades that helped them enter this year’s NFL Draft with the most capital.
A night and call I will never forget. Thank you @NYJets! Can’t wait to get started. So blessed and thankful 🙏
J-E-T-S! Jets! Jets! Jets! pic.twitter.com/IWBRtge56w
— Zachary Wilson (@ZachWilson) April 30, 2021
The Jets used their capital by selecting nine players. They attempted to surround Wilson with as much talent as they can and only time will tell if they actually succeed. There are, however, two glaring moves that they could’ve executed better. As always, making decisions in the NFL Draft is better in hindsight.
The Jets still lack pass defense
The Jets did not use any of their nine assets on a pass rusher despite investing in a couple of defensive experts this season. The team will rely heavily on Jabari Zuniga and Vinny Curry as rushmen, but that isn't really ideal in the competitive defensive league right now. The Jets’ cornerback group also didn't improve much after this year’s NFL Draft despite selecting five defensive backs.
They were all chosen on the third day, which could mean that they aren’t necessarily top tier on defense. The decision by the Jets to do this just goes to show that their priorities weren’t on the defensive end. It’s going to be interesting to see how newly installed coach Robert Saleh, a former San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator, spearheads the team with his brilliant defensive mind.
The Jets gave away too much for a guard
The Jets didn’t waste any time surrounding Wilson with as much talent as they can. They were aggressive as they traded assets to move up to 14th in the NFL Draft. The Jets then selected USC’s Alijah Vera-Tucker, an offensive guard they’re betting heavily on. The team, however, had to give up their No. 24, 66, and 86 picks to the Minnesota Vikings in order to move up nine slots ahead.
Alijah Vera-Tucker at LG in '19:
78.8 PFF grade
5 other Power-5 guards since '17 have posted 850+ snaps, <4 penalties, <10 pressures, & a 75.0+ grade:
All 5 are NFL studs
— Michael Nania (@Michael_Nania) May 11, 2021
The big risk here is that the decision to trade this many assets to move up is usually done for a starting quarterback. It’s clear that the Jets took the risk in trading this much for Vera-Tucker, who they plan to play at left guard. It’s fair to point out that if the Jets stayed with their picks, they could’ve selected a bunch of quality offensive linemen as well. After all, the demand for an offensive lineman wasn’t as high.
There were a bunch of talented offensive players the Jets could’ve chosen instead of giving up capital. They could’ve looked at the likes of Philadelphia Eagles center Landon Dickerson, who got picked at No. 37 or even 49ers pickup Aaron Banks, who went at No. 48. Ultimately, this decision to trade for Vera-Tucker was a risk that hopefully doesn’t make them regret the bold move.
At the very least, the Jets are going to be an interesting team to watch this coming season. They only won a whopping two games last season, so there's basically nowhere to go but up. Jets management has been blamed for not putting the right pieces around former star quarterback Sam Darnold, who was traded to the Carolina Panthers in the offseason.
The Jets obviously don't want the same thing to happen again in the much-anticipated Zach Wilson era, which they believe will be a promising time.