Where Do the Jets Go From Here?
Well, the New York Jets can all but say goodbye to Trevor Lawrence after this past Sunday. New York defeated the Los Angeles Rams 23–20 in the biggest upset of the season. While a win is usually a good thing for an NFL franchise, this one stings for Jets fans. The win pushed New York out of the number one pick, causing Jacksonville to be the leader in the Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes. The Jaguars have had an easier schedule this season, giving them the tiebreaker over New York.
Now all hope isn’t necessarily lost for the Jets. While it’s unlikely, there’s a possibility Jacksonville wins one of their final two games. The Jaguars still must face the Bears and Colts (who ironically gave Jacksonville it’s only win of the season). If the Jags can somehow pull off an upset, New York would jump back into the number one pick. The Jets however, would have to lose their remaining games against the Browns and Patriots.
The odds are slim though. Come draft time New York will likely have to select someone other than Trevor Lawrence. So what’s the plan now?
The Jets will certainly have options. The first being the consolation prize of Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields. Fields is the number two ranked player, but I’m not completely sold New York would take this route. In many mock drafts the Jets were selecting Lawrence at one, while the Jaguars were taking Fields at two. With the order now flipped however, the presence of Sam Darnold may cause New York to hesitate on Fields. The Ohio State QB hasn’t looked as great this season as he did his sophomore year when he had 51 total touchdowns and just three interceptions. This season Fields has 20 total touchdowns and five interceptions in six games. His numbers are still impressive, but are they enough to convince New York he can save their franchise? If I had to guess I would say no.
So that leaves the Jets with two realistic options: take a non-quarterback at two, or trade back for more selections. The first option would likely take out any uncertainty about who New York would select. The second option would increase that uncertainty to about two players. Let’s start with selecting a non-QB at two.
If the Jets take a player other than Justin Fields with the number two selection, it’s going to be Oregon tackle Penei Sewell. The junior lineman is widely regarded as the best non-quarterback in the draft. As a sophomore, Sewell was a unanimous All-American, the Outland trophy winner, and even received Heisman votes. Sewell as been tabbed as a generational prospect, and perhaps the best tackle prospect ever according to Pro Football Focus.
New York needs help in a lot of places, and offensive line is at the top of that list. Quarterback Sam Darnold has been sacked the ninth-most times this season despite missing four games. The lone bright spot on the o-line is rookie Mekhi Becton. Becton has been one of the better rookies all season. He has earned a 75.5 grade this year according to Pro Football Focus. Becton also ranked ninth on ESPN’s NFL rookie rankings as of week 10. The lone hesitation of taking Sewell at two would be both he and Becton typically play left tackle. Good thing there’s two tackle spots, because that won’t be enough for New York to pass on a generational talent.
If the Jets decide to not take the Sewell route, that leaves them with the option of trading back. This is a real possibility considering how many holes New York has on it’s roster. The Jets already have nine selections in the upcoming draft, including five in the first three rounds. But when you’re a team as bad as New York, you can never have too many options.
So if the team decides to move back, two players emerge as New York’s first possible selection: LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase or Alabama’s DeVonta Smith. It’s obvious the Jets need help in the passing game. The team’s leading receiver this year is Jamison Crowder with 576 yards. As a matter of fact, Crowder is the only player on the Jets with over 500 receiving yards. Enter the debate between Chase and Smith. Recency bias would tell you DeVonta Smith is the choice. He’s the current favorite for the Heisman after an impressive season of 1,511 yards and 17 touchdowns. Ja’Marr Chase however, would likely be the correct choice.
No disrespect to Smith, but Chase was incredible the last time he was on the field. The LSU receiver opted out of this season to focus on the NFL draft. He however, won the Biletnikoff award his sophomore season. Chase finished with 1,780 yards and 20 touchdowns. Numbers which are better than DeVonta Smith’s. Not to mention Chase outperformed his LSU teammate Justin Jefferson last year, who if you hadn’t noticed is tearing up the NFL.
So while it stings at the moment for New York fans, all hope isn’t lost. Maybe Jacksonville surprises everyone down the stretch. But even if they don’t, New York still has options to dramatically improve their team.