New York Jets: Final mock drafts from ESM’s experts

As the commissioner prepares to take the podium, ESM’s New York Jets experts put names in the ten slots offered to them in Cleveland.

You’ve endured countless mock drafts leading to this weekend…what’s three more?

As the NFL Draft prepares to welcome 260 names into their league, beginning with 32 on Thursday (8 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN/NFL Network), ESM’s New York Jets experts temporarily assume the role of general manager as they map out a plan for Gang Green’s ten picks spread over the next three days…

Geoff Magliocchetti

  • Round 1 (2nd overall): QB Zach Wilson, BYU
  • Round 1 (23rd overall): WR D’Wayne Eskridge, Western Michigan
  • Round 2 (34th overall): LB Zaven Collins, Tulsa
  • Round 3: (66th overall): CB Paulson Adebo, Stanford
  • Round 3 (87th overall): T Spencer Brown, Northern Iowa
  • Round 4 (108th overall): RB Rhamondre Stevenson, Oklahoma
  • Round 5 (147th overall): G Aaron Banks, Notre Dame
  • Round 5 (155th overall): S Ar’Darius Washington, TCU
  • Round 6 (187th overall): TE Matt Bushman, BYU
  • Round 6: (227th overall): K Jose Borreagales, Miami (FL)

The macabre, yet inspiring truth of the matter is that the Jets sunk to depths so low last season that it’s almost impossible not to emerge from draft weekend on a positive note.

Barring an absolutely jaw-dropping transaction or selection with the second overall pick, Zach Wilson is going to be a New York Jet. Every pick made after that should be dedicated to making his life easier. One would assume that could lead to drafting a lot of offensive talent, but general manager Joe Douglas has stressed the importance of striking a balance with their draft surplus, and it’s hard to argue with that logic. The last thing the Jets should do is expect Wilson’s arrival to immediately change things. He’s going to need help to get the Jets back on track.

Eskridge, who holds a special connection to the Jets (assistant offensive line coach Jake Moreland served as the offensive coordinator in Kalamazoo), could be a young weapon for Wilson to work with and also help solve the problems the Jets have had in the return game since Andre Roberts left. Day two adds blocking reinforcements from the unlikely source of Football Championship Subdivision while they also handle their defensive woes. If Collins drops to Friday, the Jets cannot hesitate for a second. As they prepare to likely implement a 4-3 set, they added veterans of the formation like Jarrad Davis and Carl Lawson. A young veteran of the system like Collins can help the transition go even smoother.

The addition of Tevin Coleman to their triumvirate of young rushing projects allows the Jets to wait until Saturday to address their rushing situation, and Stevenson can potential be their first legitimate fullback project since the days of Tony Richardson. Bringing in Bushman, one of Wilson’s favorite targets in Provo, can help Wilson get even more comfortable in the offense. The leg of Borreagales can ensure that drives that reach the red zone can end in points…a desperate need for a developing offense…while also ending the cycle of post-Jason Myers kickers. Banks can be a day three gem as a left guard, competing with Alex Lewis for primary reps.

Brendan Carpenter

  • Round 1 (2nd overall): QB Zach Wilson, BYU
  • Round 1 (23rd overall): RB Travis Etienne, Clemson
  • Round 2 (34th overall): CB Asante Samuel Jr., Florida State
  • Round 3: (66th overall): EDGE Rashad Weaver, Pittsburgh
  • Round 3 (87th overall): OL Ben Cleveland, Georgia
  • Round 4 (108th overall): WR Cade Johnson, South Dakota State
  • Round 5 (147th overall): OL Brenden James, Nebraska
  • Round 5 (155th overall): EDGE Jonathan Cooper, Ohio State
  • Round 6 (187th overall):  WR Austin Watkins, UAB
  • Round 6: (227th overall): S Brendon White, Rutgers

After the inevitable pick of Zach Wilson at second overall, the Jets elect to give him a premier weapon at No. 23. Clemson RB Travis Etienne is one of the top two backs in the entire draft and brings both rushing and receiving prowess to the offense.

The Jets need help on defense too, though, and bring in pieces in the next two rounds. At 34th, they bring in Asante Samuel, Jr. after electing to not go for one of the top-three corners in the opening stages. Samuel showed the ability to annoy receivers, but he has to cut down on the penalties. In round three, they add to the defense with Rashad Weaver out of Pittsburgh and bolster the offensive line with Georgia’s Ben Cleveland in two spots that need addressing.

With their final four picks of the mock, the Jets add two wide receivers, taking Cade Johnson out of South Dakota State and Austin Watkins out of UAB in rounds four and six, respectively. Sandwiching those picks are Brenden James out of Nebraska, and another edge rusher in Jonathan Cooper of Ohio State. The team’s needs are clear, and they stay within those lines in this final mock draft.

Dylan Price

  • Round 1 (2nd overall): QB Zach Wilson, BYU
  • Round 1 (23rd overall): IOL Alijah Vera Tucker, USC
  • Round 2 (34th overall): IOL Landon Dickerson, Alabama
  • Round 3: (66th overall): CB Ifeatu Melifonwu, Syracuse
  • Round 3 (87th overall): RB Kenneth Gainwell, Memphis
  • Round 4 (108th overall): EDGE Victor Dimukeje, Duke
  • Round 5 (147th overall): S James Wiggins, Cincinnati 
  • Round 5 (155th overall): LB Monty Rice, Georgia 
  • Round 6 (187th overall):  FB Ben Mason, Michigan
  • Round 6: (227th overall): WR Dax Milne, BYU

Let’s be real, even if you’ve been living under a rock you should know Wilson is the pick. His arm talent is unreal and he has the potential to be a superstar in the league if all goes right. The Jets have to surround him with talent and allow that to happen though, if they do, the Jets could finally have a franchise guy.

At 23, Alijah Vera Tucker is an immediate plug-and-play guy who excels in both the run and pass game. He can be a stalwart of the line for the next decade alongside Mekhi Becton. Eleven picks later, the Jets double dip with Dickerson. He’s one of the best linemen in the class, in my opinion, and he’s a freak of nature. If his right knee stays healthy he can be the right guard for the next decade alongside Becton and Tucker. He also brings versatility as a center.

Melifonwu and Wiggins are secondary additions. The Syracuse alum has the length to excel as an outside corner and his coverage skills are heavily underrated. He can be a steal at 66th. Meanwhile, Wiggins will be a special teamer with the potential to develop into a competent starter. Dimukeje and Rice are two athletes with developmental capabilities that couldn’t be overlooked. Both will be situational pieces to start, but their potential is sky high. Gainwell is my favorite running back in this class. He’s a productive back who can play in the slot and out of the backfield. Ben Mason joins him as another scheme fit at fullback, ideally becoming the Kyle Juszczyk of the offense.

This draft gives the Jets depth all over the board. Weapons out of the backfield. Two potential defensive back pieces for the future, two franchise linemen, and hopefully…finally…the franchise quarterback.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Giants could land a solid linebacker prospect by trading down in round one

The 2021 NFL Draft will take place in just two short weeks. The New York Giants are preparing for an exciting draft that they perfectly prepared for through an impressive free agency period. New York addressed most of its major needs in free agency, signing Kenny Golladay and Adoree’ Jackson to big contracts.

Now the Giants are in a position to add the best player to their roster regardless of positional needs. One intriguing option for the Giants to consider is trading down from the eleventh overall pick. Dave Gettleman has never traded back in a draft before, but this could be the year that changes. Gettleman and Co. nearly traded down last year. They called teams shopping the fourth overall pick but found no buyers. They also had a deal in place to trade down in the second round but opted to stick and pick once they saw Xavier McKinney fall in their lap.

Trading down is a strategy that many teams have been taking advantage of to rebuild their rosters in recent years. The Colts, Dolphins, and Eagles are some teams that have reaped the benefits of trading down recently. Trading down allows teams to accumulate more draft capital and address multiple positions of need in a single draft class while preparing for the future.

If the Giants decide to trade down this year, there is a plethora of defensive talent to target in the back end of the first round. There are a few intriguing linebacker prospects that would make sense for the Giants in the second half of round one.

Linebacker prospects for the Giants to target in a trade-down

Micah Parsons is the top linebacker prospect in this year’s class and a potential target for the Giants at eleven. But Parsons comes with his risks and might not even make it to eleven overall. The second tier of linebacker prospects in this year’s class features plenty of solid options, though.

Zaven Collins

Zaven Collins out of Tulsa is a linebacker prospect with a playing style similar to Micah Parsons. Collins is an excellent pass-rushing off-ball linebacker with sideline-to-sideline speed to make plays against the run. This archetype of linebacker fits perfectly in Patrick Graham’s defensive scheme. Graham loves to use linebackers on stunts and quarterback spies.

Collins is a big-bodied (6’4 7/8″, 259 pounds) off-ball linebacker that compares well to Anthony Barr of the Minnesota Vikings. Zaven is also decent in pass coverage as well, giving him all the traits to succeed at the NFL level.

Over eight games in 2020, Zaven Collins racked up 54 total tackles including 7.5 tackles for loss and 4 sacks. He even added 4 interceptions, including 2 pick-sixes, and he forced 2 fumbles. Zaven Collins was a true playmaker for Tulsa’s defense in his final collegiate season.

Jamin Davis

Another intriguing linebacker prospect for the Giants to consider if they trade to the back end of the first round is Jamin Davis out of Kentucky. Jamin Davis is a player whose draft stock has risen tremendously leading up to April. According to Next Gen Stats, Jamin Davis has a 99 overall athleticism score, explaining that Davis has the “athletic traits that best translate to pro success for linebackers.”

Jamin Davis is another linebacker prospect with an incredible blend of size, speed, and athleticism. Davis comes in at 6-4, 234 pounds with a 42″ vertical and 4.41s 40 time.

Kentucky’s Jamin Davis is similar to Zaven Collins in that he is a rangy linebacker with solid skills defending the run. He totaled 102 tackles through 10 games in 2020 with 4 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. Davis also added 3 interceptions to his resumé in 2020, including 1 pick-six.

Jamin Davis is flying up draft boards. His name was little-known just two months ago but now he is a firm second-round prospect that could even slip into the back end of the first round. Davis could be another intriguing player to add a new dynamic layer to Patrick Graham’s defense in a trade-down scenario.

New York Jets: A seven-round, post-Sam Darnold mock draft

With Sam Darnold having moved on, ESM envisions how the New York Jets’ replenished draft haul will look come April/May.

Sam Darnold is gone, resolving the question of his New York Jets fate. Now, another rises in his place: now what?

Following Darnold’s dealing to Carolina earlier this week, the Jets now hold ten picks in the 2021 NFL Draft, which begins on April 29. The last came from the Panthers along with two further choices in next year’s selections.

With Darnold’s New York term ended, how should the Jets spend this surplus? In the immediate aftermath, it’s a terrific note on Douglas’ resume that he has earned the Jets double-figure offerings in a single draft. But draft day quantity, of course, is never a guarantee of quality. The Jets learned that lesson the hard way during the 2014 proceedings. Then-general manager John Idzik held a dozen picks in the final draft in New York, but none of them remain on the Jets’ current roster and, in fact, only one (fourth-rounder Dakota Dozier, now a starting blocker in Minnesota) partook in NFL action last season.

How can the Jets make the most of their excess choices, especially in the wake of the Darnold news? ESM investigates through a full New York mock…

1st Round (2nd overall): QB Zach Wilson, BYU

One of the biggest wins of the Darnold trade was that the Jets now have an official deadline for their current quarterback controversy: the evening of April 29, after they make their second pick. Deshaun Watson is out for obvious reasons and they certainly won’t entrust Week 1 starting duties to Mike White or James Morgan. Thus, it’s a near-certainty that they’ll choose a non-Trevor Lawrence thrower with the second overall choice.

With a New York triumvirate (Joe Douglas, Robert Saleh, Mike LaFleur) in tow for his pro day in Provo, it’s beginning to look like a Wilson-based future for the Jets. ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter took it a step further, flat out texting Wilson “Welcome to New York” after the Jets-Panthers deal was completed. With this move, Douglas has officially solidified the Jets as his “own”, as the modern Jets will work with a head coach and quarterback exclusively chosen by the current GM.

1st Round (23rd overall): C/G Landon Dickerson, Alabama

So the Jets have traded Darnold, the latest of several offseason moves that have made them a better team on paper (if only because there’s nowhere to go but up after a 2-14 campaign). But their offensive line negligence has only gained a brighter spotlight. Dan Feeny and Corey Levin are acceptable options for depth, but they’re not guys that are going to push the Jets’ offensive needle in the right direction.

Dickerson, on the other hand, can be a difference-maker. Going 23rd would almost be an injustice to the 6’6, 325 lb. national champion, who was injured on a scoring play during the SEC title game. It was the last of several injuries he endured in Tuscaloosa, which has served as a red flag in several teams’ draft preparation. But Dickerson’s loss in position could be the Jets’ gain, as he brings an impressive resume that goes beyond his championship ring. He’s the current holder of both the Rimington and Jacobs Blocking trophies (sharing the latter with teammate Alex Leatherwood) and was a unanimous All-American last year.

2nd Round (34th overall): LB Zaven Collins, Tulsa

The hullabaloo around a new quarterback…as well as some shrewd offseason maneuvering from Douglas and Co…has somewhat masked the fact that the Jets still have some defensive renovations to make. One of the smarter moves of Douglas’ winter was bringing in Carl Lawson and Jarrad Davis, both of whom have extensive experience with the 4-3 defense that Saleh and Jeff Ulbrich are set to install in New York.

Don’t be surprised if the Jets take a similar approach on draft weekend. Collins is among the top, if not at the top, of the 4-3 linebackers in the coming class. He likewise brings in a sizable trophy case to his NFL destination, one that includes the AAC Defensive Player of the Year Award (guiding the Golden Hurricane to an undefeated regular season in conference play) and the Chuck Bednarik Award (whose previous three winners include Minkah Fitzpatrick, Josh Allen, and Chase Young). Critics feel like Collins would have to improve his physicality to move into the first round proper, but he’s the type of day two pic that can contribute immediately.

3rd Round (66th overall): CB Paulson Adebo, Stanford

As the post-Jamal Adams carries on, the Jets are still relatively thin in their secondary. Their safeties are on relatively solid ground…having franchise-tagged Marcus Maye and working on Ashtyn Davis as a project. But they’re still understaffed in the cornerback spots, where the current top options are veteran newcomer Justin Hardee (who’s primarily used on special teams) and raw, young talents like Bless Austin and Bryce Hall.

Thus, it’s worth exploring some cornerback options on day two, some more proven potential that can contribute immediately. Perhaps unfairly, Adebo has seen his stock fall after opting out of the 2020 season. He was previously projected to be among the first safeties to go in Mel Kiper’s 2020 draft board. He’s thus another project, but he has at least has some proven potential to work with (primarily as a player with the “ballhawk” classification) and could insert himself into a starting lineup fairly quickly.

3rd Round (86th overall): T Spencer Brown, Northern Iowa

The Jets have a perfect opportunity to make up for their relative inactivity in terms of upgrading their protection through the extra picks gained on the first two days. Their thrower’s blindside is protected through the first-round arrival of Mekhi Becton last season, but their questions on the right side. George Fant appears to be back in the starting lineup with Chuma Edoga behind him.

Brown, an FCS standout, could provide the proper heat to a veteran like Fant on the right side. His 2020 showcase has been thrown into disarray with uncertainty in what was Division I-AA football, but Brown managed to impress at both the Senior Bowl and UNI’s pro day. He has earned particularly strong reviews for his pass blocking and, in lieu of partaking in UNI’s ongoing shortened year, has been training with former All-Pro blocker (and Saleh’s fellow San Francisco alum) Joe Staley.

4th Round (107th overall): RB Rhamondre Stevenson, Oklahoma

The Jets have an interesting running back situation. Signing Tevin Coleman can not only give the offense a proven weapon both on the ground and through the air, but also take the pressure off the new quarterback. Behind Coleman is a trio of projects who have raw potential: La’mical Perine, Ty Johnson, and Josh Adams. It wouldn’t be surprising for the Jets to add an upstart rookie to create a training camp competition. The addition of Coleman allows the Jets to address other areas over the first few rounds.

A failed drug test suspension kept Stevenson, a former JUCO star at Cerritos College, out of the Sooners’ College Football Playoff trek at the end of the 2019-20 season, as well as the first five games of last year’s campaign. He nonetheless led the Sooners with 665 rushing yards (6.6 average carry), capped off by a dominant 186-yard showing in OU’s dominant Cotton Bowl victory over Florida. Stevenson’s build (230-240 lbs.) could also allow the Jets to reestablish a fullback role, especially with Saleh and LaFleur knowing the benefits of such a position, having worked with Kyle Juszczyk in San Francisco. The Jets toyed with tight end and 2019 draftee Trevon Wesco in the spot over the last two seasons, but more or less abandoned the project last year.

5th Round (146th overall): WR Shi Smith, South Carolina

At receiver, the Jets did a solid job of upgrading their receiving weaponry for the incoming quarterback. In addition to Coleman (111 receptions from 2016-19 with Atlanta and San Francisco), they added promising young veterans Corey Davis and Keelan Cole to a group that already includes Denzel Mims and Jamison Crowder. But the third day of the draft would be a good time to find some depth.

Smith could be a potential project, especially one in the slot with Crowder due to hit free agency next year. His development in Columbia was slightly hampered by the Gamecocks’ unstable quarterback situation, but he still garnered some professional looks for his speed and athleticism (which could allow the Jets to establish the screen). Smith’s 57 receptions earned last season were good for fifth in the SEC’s shortened 2020 season. He can also add a little heat to the Jets’ return situation, currently headed by Corey Ballentine and Braxton Berrios, as he was second in the conference with a 21.9 kick return average during the 2019 campaign (albeit on a 12-return sample size).

5th Round (154th overall): S Ar’Darius Washington, TCU

As Brian Poole remains unsigned, the Jets could use a nickel/dime upgrade while potentially working on a safety project. While Washington’s size (5’8, 178 lbs.) is a concern, his ball skills make him an intriguing prospect to work with in the secondary. The underclassman has constantly defied odds, not only working his way through a tough size situation but also making an immediate Fort Worth impression by winning the Big 12’s Defensive Freshman of the Year Award. Working with Hardee could also allow him to make an impact on special teams.

6th Round (186th overall): TE Matt Bushman, BYU

At tight end, Chris Herndon is the one player left over from the Jets’ new uniform showcase in the early stages of 2019. While they did add Tyler Kroft…who will be a decent goal line option…Herndon still appears to be the top man in the position. Adding Bushman would not only put some heat on Herndon but also give Wilson a friendly face to work with in his NFL debut. Though Bushman missed all of the Cougars flirtation with a New Year’s Six bowl with an injury, he was their top receiver in 2019, notably uniting for 91 yards on six receptions in their final collaboration in the Hawaii Bowl.

6th Round (227th overall): K Jose Borreagales, Miami (FL)

The current pick gained from the Panthers in the Darnold trade can allow the Jets to address one of their most problematic areas: kicking. With an offense still struggling to consistently visit the end zone, having a reliable kicker will be vital if they want to remain competitive. Since the Pro Bowler Jason Myers left for Seattle two offseasons ago, the Jets have gone through six different kickers. The most recent pair (Sam Ficken and Chase McLaughlin) remain on the roster, with a competition potentially set to ensue. Last year’s draft showed that they wouldn’t hesitate to use a pick to bolster their special teams, using their last on Texas A&M punter Braden Mann.

New York needs a reliable name as their leg, and the primary boot in this draft is Borreagales. A native of Venezuela, Borreagales established himself as a South Beach kicking legend, first starring at Florida International before spending a fifth season with The U. Mirroring Mann’s Ray Guy Award, Borreagales would bring a Lou Groza trophy with him as the current holder. He was successful on all 35 of his extra point attempts last season and was 18-of-20 on field goals. One conversion was a 57-yard boot in a September win over Louisville, a primetime showdown that saw him score 17 points in a 47-34 win.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags