The New York Jets added another stone to their blocking gauntlet in the form of Mekhi Becton. What comes next in Friday’s pair of rounds?
One pick down, seven to go.
The virtual draft fun has just begun for the New York Jets, who will be on the board three times when the second and third rounds commence on Friday night (7:00 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN/ESPN2/NFL Network).
Many felt the Jets got off to a good start with the selection of Louisville offensive lineman Mekhi Becton at No. 11 overall, the team knows there is still work to be done.
General manager Joe Douglas knows about the big opportunity the Jets have on Friday. New York was allotted the 48th and 79th selections on the draft board and also own the 68th pick, obtained from the New York Giants in a trade for Leonard Williams.
“I don’t take this opportunity lightly,” Douglas said before the draft, per Brian Costello of the New York Post. “We’ve got eight picks and four in the top 79. We have to do our best to get the right type of player, the right type of person that’s going to come in here and turn things around and get us going in the right direction. We’ve seen impact drafts make a real difference in a short time.”
What should Jets fans expect in the draft’s first post-Becton stages? ESM has three possibilities…
Catch A Receiver
Becton’s name was called before any of the draft’s renowned receiving corps. Shortly after, the catchers flew off the board. Henry Ruggs was first chosen by Las Vegas immediately after the Jets’ choice. Jerry Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb respectively went to Denver and Dallas at Nos. 15 and 17.
Though the latter stages took out three more (Jalen Reagor, Justin Jefferson, and Brandon Aiyuk), plenty of viable options are still on the board and should be available by the time the Jets choose at No. 48. Clemson’s Tee Higgins and Baylor’s Denzel Mims might not make it there, but Michael Pittman and his strong hands could be a viable option. The sizable Laviska Shenault of Colorado is another intriguing Pac-12 product, while the small but speedy Chase Claypool of Notre Dame will draw suitors as well.
Though veterans will return (Jamison Crowder and the injured Quincy Enunwa) and they added Bredshad Perriman in free agency, the Jets are in need of explosive receiver help. Such an option can indeed be found on day two. Second-day yields on the receiver front from the past five drafts alone include Michael Thomas, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Cooper Kupp, Chris Godwin, and Courtland Sutton, among others.
This day two defensive struggle comes in the sweetest form: there are so many viable depth options for the Jets that it’s going to be hard to make a decision, even if a little extra capital is headed their way after the Williams trade.
While the Jets shored up their blocking on Thursday and will probably address their receiver situation at some point in the draft’s middle portions, the team must emerge from Friday’s proceedings with pass rush and secondary assistance. The former took on added importance during the first round, as Miami’s first selection means the Jets are going to have to deal with the arm and legs of Tua Tagovailoa twice a year in the near future.
The Jets dealt one of their premiere pass rushers to earn an extra pick, so it would perhaps be poetic to welcome in a replacement. It might be a little too much to hope for to see both Zach Baun and A.J. Epenesa to fall into the Jets’ grasp, but their comrade Yetur Gross-Matos might be well on his way. Bradlee Anae and Curtis Weaver have each made appearances in ESM mock drafts. In the secondary, Jaylon Johnson and Bryce Hall should be watched on the cornerback front.
Don’t Block the Idea of Another Blocker
The Jets’ offensive line has featured more renovation than an afternoon block of HGTV programming. Some saw Becton has the finishing touch, set to join a unit that already welcomed in George Fant, Greg Van Roten, and Connor McGovern (among several other depth additions) in through free agency proceedings.
But if Joe Douglas has made one thing clear, its that he views blocking as indispensable. His regime has done away with the blocking negligence of the Mike Maccagnan era and has instead brought it to the forefront of offseason concerns. Day two could be a day to stockpile depth on the line, ones who can stoke the fires of potential training camp competition.
Boise State tackle Ezra Cleveland is probably the top lineman available on Friday, but the Jets will probably look to bolster their interior units. Michigan’s Ben Bredeson would be an intriguing option in round three, as his experience on the left side could give returnee Alex Lewis some competition. LSU’s Damien Lewis could also put some heat on veteran Brian Winters.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags