The New York Jets remained rooted in the second overall slot, but chaos erupted behind them on Friday. Where does that leave them?
Never mind the Super Bowl shuffle…the draft board boogie aired at full blast on Friday afternoon.
The Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Jets respectively remain in the top two slots, but the landscape behind looks drastically different. At the cost of two future firsts, the San Francisco 49ers will now choose in the third slot. The Miami Dolphins, recipients of those Bay Area picks, dealt the No. 12 they gained to Philadelphia, officially situating themselves at sixth overall.
How does this affect the Jets, still the ongoing holders of the No. 2 choice? ESM investigates…
No Way, Darnold
Many assume that the 49ers, like the Jets before them in 2018, are trading up to the third pick to select a quarterback. Trevor Lawrence remains the consensus top choice to Duval, while many believe the Jets will take BYU passer Zach Wilson after team brass attended his pro day on Friday.
Despite being firmly entrenched in the rookie passer discussion, San Francisco has no imminent plans to trade Jimmy Garoppolo, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter. But this move more or less eliminates them from the Sam Darnold conversation. If the 49ers are apparently comfortable with a lingering quarterback controversy between Garopoolo and, say, Justin Fields, there’s no way they would add a third name to that list.
This week has been one of the roller-coaster variety for Darnold. Corey Davis mentioned that he was under the impression that Darnold would be his thrower come September in his first New York statements. But the New York prescience in Provo dictates that the Jets are still exploring other options. If the Jets are ready to officially close the book on Darold, likely only one potential destination remains: the Carolina Panthers.
Miami owned the third pick through one of the earliest chapters of the downfall of the Houston Texans: the trade for Laremy Tunsil and Kenny Stills. After Friday, the Dolphins have essentially turned Tunsil (who fell to their grasp at 13th overall in 2018 after the bizarre social media hacking) into six first-round picks over the next three drafts.
But the cold truth is that draft quantity means nothing without quality, and major questions surround a high-profile choice in quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (No. 5 in 2020).
While many have pegged the Dolphins as a surprise playoff team this season after winning ten games, questions hovered around their quarterback position, especially after the Ryan Fitzpatrick safety net went to Washington. Trading out of the third slot essentially says they’re not looking for a quarterback. Even with the sixth choice, the best passers, including FCS stud Trey Lance, will probably be gone. With Atlanta rounding out the top four and possibly looking to prepare for the post-Matt Ryan era, we well could see quarterback taken with the first four picks.
From a New York standpoint, the upgrades to their front seven through Vinny Curry and Sheldon Rankins look even wiser right now. It’s possible they could use their latte first-round choice (the Seattle pick at No. 23) to further shore up their edge game, though cornerback options have also been analyzed.
Would the Jets be willing to trade too?
San Francisco elevator ride up the draft board ensures that they can get one of the three or four most-talked-about passing names in the draft. Could that inspire other teams to give the Jets a call in an attempt to find further passing stability?
Carolina’s passing conundrum is anything but solved in the eighth choice, their current depth chart topped by Teddy Bridgewater and P.J. Walker. Denver could be trying to put pressure on incumbent Drew Lock. Stifling the tough of such a deal is the fact that neither potential partner has much to offer in terms of future picks (the best in terms of a surplus amongst each of them is day three picks in 2021). Either way, this shift will possibly have other quarterback-hungry teams trying to work their way through, so Joe Douglas might have some extra calls to field as draft day in Cleveland approaches.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags