The 2021 NFL Draft starts on Thursday, April 29. As a lead-up to the draft, we’ll be giving a team-by-team breakdown for positional needs. For each team, we’ll give an overview of the current depth chart and how big of a need each position in the upcoming draft. You can find the rest of the team needs (as they’re updated) and the rest of our draft content in the 2021 NFL Draft hub.
New York Jets 2021 DRAFT PICKS OVERVIEW
Round 1 (2)
Round 1 (23)
Round 2 (34)
Round 3 (66)
Round 3 (86)
Round 4 (107)
Round 5 (146)
Round 5 (154)
Round 6 (186)
Round 6 (226)
New York Jets Offense
By Rich Hribar
The Jets were dead last in the NFL in expected points added via their passing game last season at -43.1 points. Not only was New York the caboose car among NFL passing games, but the next closest team (Washington) was “only” at -22.5 EPA via passing.
With a new coaching regime and a clean slate, the Jets moved on from Sam Darnold, leaving them currently with just 2020 fourth-rounder James Morgan and Mike White on the roster heading into the draft.
Holding the No. 2 pick overall in the draft, we have long known they are selecting the next quarterback there looking to break the cycle of struggling draft picks at the position for the organization.
Trevon Wesco (FB)
Compared to their passing game, the Jets’ rushing game in 2020 looked good, but still checked in 21st in the league in EPA (-6.8 points). New York backs ranked 25th in the league in touches (23.9) per game for just 98.5 yards from scrimmage per game (32nd) and their backfield collectively averaged just 4.1 yards per touch, the lowest rate in the league.
2020 fourth-round rookie La’Mical Perine turned just 75 touches into 295 yards (3.9 yards per touch) while managing 3.6 yards per carry and 5.7 yards per catch. The team also has both Ty Johnson and Pete Guerriero under contract for the next two seasons.
They also added veteran Tevin Coleman on a one-year deal. Coleman will be 28 years old, has been in decline for two seasons running, while he has never received 200 or more touches in any of his six NFL seasons. But he has spent his entire career in a similar offensive system as to what the Jets are transitioning to under new offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur.
The Jets have a significant need for continuing to stockpile offensive playmakers and the running back position is one they will surely add to in April.
Obviously, with a passing game that struggled the way that the Jets did last season, their wideouts did not post scintillating numbers. A group, the Jets wideouts ranked 22nd in receptions (11.8) and 25th in receiving yardage per game (145.0) while tied for 24th in the league in touchdown receptions (12).
The Jets currently have 13 wide receivers under contract. Of those 13, only Corey Davis, 2020 second-round pick Denzel Mims, and practice squad-level assets in D.J. Montgomery and Manasseh Bailey are signed beyond the 2021 season.
Despite the number of wideouts rostered currently, it is still arguable that they do not have a No. 1 option. The team signed Davis to a long-term contract this offseason to help remedy that as they wait on the development of Mims in year two. Davis never lived up to the No. 5 Draft selection the Titans used on him in 2017, but Davis did close out his tenure in Tennessee on a strong note in 2020.
Coming off a 2019 season in which he caught 43-of-601 targets for 601 yards and two touchdowns, Davis caught 65-of-92 targets for 984 yards and five touchdowns in 14 games, setting career highs in catch rate (70.7%), yards per reception (15.1 yards), touchdowns, receptions (4.6), and yards per game (70.3). Among all NFL wideouts last season, Davis was fifth in yards per route run (2.58 yards).
Mims missed seven games due to a hamstring injury, but when on the field he led the Jets with a 14.6-yard depth of target and 71.4 air yards per game while catching 23-of-44 targets for 357 yards and zero scores.
The team also still has a reliable slot asset in Jamison Crowder in the final year of his contract. In two seasons with the Jets, Crowder has secured 4.9 passes per game in each of those seasons.
Davis, Mims, and Crowder could fill the requisite archetypes at each position while new addition Keelan Cole is also serviceable depth. It just depends on immediate quarterback play and the ceiling potential for this group. With so much still unknown for the Jets’ big picture outside of Davis and Mims while needing offensive talent, we should still expect them to pursue a rookie contract wideout during the draft.
Last season, New York tight ends combined to catch just 43-of-62 targets for 409 yards and three touchdowns. The only one of this group to see more than 12 targets was Chris Herndon (46). After a positive rookie campaign with 39-502-4, Herndon basically lost all of 2019 to injury and suspension and then returned to a pedestrian 31-287-3 line a year ago. Herndon scored in his final two games of the season and closed the year with a 7-63-1 to tease us with potential now that the team has moved on from Adam Gase, but Herndon enters the final season of his rookie contract with little to suggest that he is entrenched as a future asset to this roster.
The team added tight end Tyler Kroft on a one-year deal as a blocker and veteran presence while Ryan Griffin and Connor Davis are signed through the 2022 season. Daniel Brown was brought back, who played just 28 offensive snaps, but led the position with 334 snaps on special teams. As has been the running theme so far, the Jets have no shortage of need for a playmaker at the position and likely do not have their future starting TE1 currently on the roster.
LT: Mekhi Becton/Chuma Edoga
LG: Alex Lewis/Cameron Clark
C: Connor McGovern/James Murray/Leo Koloamatangi
RG: Greg Van Roten/Dan Feeney/Conor McDermott
RT: George Fant
If you thought the Jets needed work everywhere else offensively to this point, then their offensive line output from 2020 will not come as a surprise. In fact, the performance of this offensive line had arguably the largest impact on this team’s lack of offensive prowess in recent seasons and gave Sam Darnold next to no chance of success over his rookie contract in New York.
Jets quarterbacks were pressured on a league-high 43.6% of their dropbacks last season per Pro Football Focus. They ranked 29th in ESPN’s Pass Block Win Rate Metric (50%) and 30th in their Run Block Win Rate Metric (67%).
The Jets completely re-vamped their offensive line last offseason and with that turnover, there were also a plethora of struggles. 2020 first-round pick Mekhi Becton had some typical rookie-season struggles for an incoming tackle, but overall was the highest-graded offensive lineman for New York by a significant margin per Pro Football Focus. Becton allowed seven sacks (fifth-most among tackles), but was 23rd overall in pass blocking grade at the position. We know Becton is locked in as the team’s starting left tackle.
Beyond Becton, right tackle George Fant graded out 40th among 52 tackles in pass protection to play 50% of their team snaps per Pro Football Focus, allowing 33 pressures.
Fant is still signed through 2022 and the Jets have a number of linemen signed for multiple seasons, although all can be questioned on viability to be in the lineup. Starters Alex Lewis, Connor McGovern, and Greg Van Roten all have multi-year contracts so you can at least suggest there is some chemistry in place with this group heading into 2020. Unfortunately, there are many questions on if anyone here outside of Becton is a long-term answer. With five picks in the top-100 of the draft, the offensive line will be a priority with right tackle and right guard as the biggest holes openings for immediate competition.
New York Jets Defense
By Dan Pizzuta
Interior Defensive Line
So, Quinnen Williams is pretty good. Williams ranked fourth in Pass Rush Win Rate and first in Run Stop Win Rate as a defensive tackle, according to ESPN. He was one of three defensive tackles to be in the top-10 of both but the only player to be in the top five. He was eighth in pressure rate among defensive tackles per Sports Info Solutions.
The Jets lost a top run stopper in Henry Anderson during free agency but Foley Fatikasi ranked fourth in Run Stop Win Rate and he played 44.5% of the defensive snaps. The Jets also added to the defensive line depth in free agency with Sheldon Rankins. Rankins finished 20th among defensive tackles in pressure rate last season, per SIS.
Carl Lawson was the Jets’ biggest free agent get and he has the chance to be the team’s best pass rusher in years. Lawson ranked 17th among edge rushers in pressure rate and second among all defenders in quarterback hits. He’ll turn 26 years old in June and just signed for a three-year deal.
Vinny Curry has been a plus rotational edge over the past few seasons. He only played 28% of the defensive snaps for the Eagles last season but still put up 10 quarterback hits and ranked 19th in pressure rate. Curry could be in line for a bigger role given the current depth chart, but he’s only played more than 50% of the defensive snaps in a season once in his career.
Behind them, there is some hope for youthful development. Jabari Zuniga was a third-round pick in 2020 but got on the field for just 9% of the defensive snaps during his rookie season. Bryce Huff, a 2020 undrafted free agent, rankled 93rd among edge rushers in pressure rate with two quarterback hits and a sack on 25% of the defensive snaps. Huff led college football in pressures during the 2019 season, per SIS.
C.J. Mosley opted out of the 2020 season and will return in the middle of the Jets defense. His first season with the Jets in 2019 was cut short due to a torn ACL. With the Ravens, Mosley was a well-rounded linebacker who was a plus in coverage. Since Mosley came into the league in 2014, he ranks eighth at the position in passes defensed.
Signing Jarrad Davis was a curious move in free agency. Davis was demoted last season in Detroit. After playing 57% of the defensive snaps and 11% of the special teams snaps over 11 games in 2019, he played 29% of the defensive snaps and 30% of the special teams snaps in 14 games during 2020. Davis allowed a 71.4% completion percentage and 11.9 yards per target in coverage during 2019, per SIS.
2019 fifth-round pick Blake Cashman flashed some during his rookie season but made it onto the field for just three defensive snaps in 2020 with two separate stints on injured reserve.
There aren’t many — if any — household names on this depth chart, but the very young Jets secondary held up quite well in 2020. Blessaun Austin, a 2019 sixth-round pick, ranked 84th among 148 cornerbacks in adjusted yards allowed per coverage snap. Bryce Hall, a 2020 fifth-round pick, ranked 77th. Both were just about average by that metric with potential room to grow.
Javelin Guidry was part of a stellar 2019 Utah defensive backfield and as a rookie undrafted free agent, he forced four fumbles between just 171 defensive snaps and 90 special teams snaps. 2020 seventh-round pick Lamar Jackson had the most struggles, ranked 145th among those 148 corners in adjusted yards allowed per coverage snap.
Marcus Maye turned into the do-it-all safety for the Jets after Jamal Adams was traded away. Maye was second among safeties in yards allowed per coverage snap with 11 passes defensed to go along with two sacks as a pass rusher. The Jets placed the franchise tag on Maye with a long-term deal still possible.
Lamarcus Joyner was a free agent add for the Jets and the plan will be to play him more at safety after the Raiders’ decision to make him more of a slot corner did not work out as well as planned. Joyner is 31 years old and only on a one-year deal.
There was hope last season for Ashtyn Davis as a versatile safety but there were some rookie struggles for the 2020 third-round pick, who was on the field for 35% of the defensive snaps.