Assuming the New York Jets do not trade for Deshaun Watson, or anyone else, and still have their current draft picks, things could get interesting. The focus of their impending draft decisions has been focused on the second overall pick. However, pick 23 is a very important pick as well.
The Jets have many holes throughout the roster. Whether it be running back, cornerback or something else, there needs to be improvement. Whatever the direction they go in at 23 is, it won’t be quarterback. That position will be decided before that pick is made, most likely. So, I’ll highlight two players the Jets could look at when they’re on the clock with the 23rd overall pick:
Travis Etienne, RB Clemson
A lot of people believe that running backs should never be drafted in the first round. However, there’s a difference between selecting a running back in the top ten and one in the twenties. The Jets could do the latter in the upcoming draft by selecting Travis Etienne.
Running back isn’t one of the more “pressing” needs of the team per se, but the position is still somewhat weak. The team’s top three contributors in the run game last year, in order, were:
- Frank Gore – 653 yards, 2 touchdowns
- Ty Johnson – 254 yards, 1 touchdown
- La’Mical Perine – 232 yards, 2 touchdowns
Travis Etienne is a do-it-all back. He can run, catch and do anything else you need him to do. This past season, which was a down year by his standards, he had 914 rushing yards with 14 touchdowns and 588 receiving yards with 2 touchdowns. The two years before, he had 1,658 and 1,614 rushing yards alone, respectively.
As a team, the Jets totaled 1,683 rushing yards, which averages 105.2 rushing yards per game. That ended up being the 23rd ranked rushing attack in the league. What better way to upgrade the 23rd overall rushing attack than with the 23rd overall pick…
Jaycee Horn, CB South Carolina
The Jets need help at cornerback, period. This past season, they allowed 275.6 passing yards per game, fifth-most in the NFL. With the way the league is now, with such explosive offenses, you need to be able to stop the pass when you have to. When you can’t stop the pass, you can’t win. It’s that simple.
Now, the Jets won’t be able to get one of the top two corners in the draft with pick 23, but they could probably get one of the top three. The top two corners, according to Pro Football Focus, are Patrick Surtain II and Caleb Farley, respectively. Right behind them is Jaycee Horn. He should be available if the Jets want him.
Horn isn’t the flashiest and doesn’t have as many “highlight” plays on his tape, but his pass-coverage ability may be the best in the class. And in all honestly, that’s all that matters.
In seven games played this past season, Horn allowed only 8 catches on 24 targets for 116 yards. So, on average, he allowed 1.1 catches for 16.6 yards per game. That’s very clearly elite.
New head coach Robert Saleh is a defensive mind, so he and general manager Joe Douglas could bolster the defense here. If they do, Jaycee Horn would certainly help.
Whichever way the Jets choose to go, seemingly any position would help.