The New York Jets have a busy day ahead of them as the NFL Draft concludes. What can fans expect on day three?
New York fans wanted sports back. Between the New York Liberty’s plethora of picks in last weekend’s WNBA Draft and the New York Jets’ most recent moves, teams are giving their fans plenty to talk about.
After a trade with the New England Patriots, the Jets have six picks over the final four rounds of the 2020 NFL Draft. They own their allotted spots with the 120th, 158th, and 191st picks, while they gained the 125th and 129th from the Patriots. Kansas City also sent over the 211th in exchange for Darron Lee last spring.
What can fans expect with these final picks? ESM investigates…
A Special Day
The Jets began to address their special teams issues this week. Incumbent kicker Sam Ficken re-signed with the team on Thursday, setting up a competition with Brett Maher. On Friday, the Jets used the pick gained in the Leonard Williams deal to draft California safety Ashtyn Davis, who spent two years as the Golden Bears kickoff returner (finishing second in the Pac-12 in yardage in both seasons).
While it’s probably not an ideal contest (Ficken and Maher ranked 30th and 32nd in conversion rate last season), it’s difficult to imagine the Jets adding a third kicker. So that probably rules out Georgia’s Rodrigo Blankenship, a mainstay in the final picks of ESM experts’ mock drafts. But the extra draft capital affords the Jets a chance to further bolster the unit.
With no progress on the Lac Edwards situation, the Jets could open another competition at punter. Ian Berryman, whose NFL experience consists of a Pittsburgh summer stint, is the current option, which could lead the Jets to take a look at Braden Mann of Texas A&M. Mann earned unanimous All-American honors and set the NCAA record for best average (51.0) en route to Ray Guy Award honors. It seems like a small problem at first glance, but, until the Jets can consistently score, a reliable punter will be a must-have accessory.
Davis can help the return game, but the Jets should keep an eye on Virginia’s Joe Reed as the afternoon wears on. Reed not only became a return game legend in the ACC (his 3,042 yards are second all-time), but he can also help the offense as a slot receiver (14 touchdown catches over the last two seasons).
The Jets’ foreseeable future at the running back spot begins and ends with Le’Veon Bell…especially when you consider what they’re paying him. But Bell will need a spell option as the Jets press on. Bilal Powell and Ty Montgomery are still free agents, and modern Bell understudies include Trenton Cannon and Kenneth Dixon. With the offensive line possibly on its way to rejuvenation, it could be a good time to be a Jets running back.
A name to keep an eye on is Patrick Taylor from Memphis. An injury cost him a portion of his senior season, but he was a consistent short-yardage and red zone prescience. Other steals behind the quarterback could include FCS stud James Robinson from Illinois State and Javon Leake of Maryland, who can also insert himself into the return game picture as well.
New Faces at Familiar Places
Over the first two days of the draft, the Jets have shored up several need positions. Some say the Jets have been the robbers of the 2020 draft, beneficiaries of the respective falls of Mekhi Becton and Denzel Mims, allowing them to upgrade their blocking and receiving. Could day three continue that trend?
While there’s no denying the Jets have improved, at least on paper, but the extra draft capital could allow them to revisit positions already addressed. They definitely need a cornerback (Virgina’s Bryce Hall and Notre Dame’s Troy Pride will probably be on the board when they make their trio of selections in the 120s), but their wheeling and dealing at the virtual draft table has allowed them to be repetitive.
Another small school wonder to look out for Division III interior blocker Ben Bartch. Their interior depth is desperate need of replenishment, after all, and the Jets have yet to make a selection in the department. The ridiculously deep receiver class also continues to make itself known. Donovan Peoples-Jones may be worth a look, as would Liberty’s Antonio Golden-Gandy.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags