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The NFL Draft is finally here.
After weeks of speculation, we’ll find out what the Jets will actually do. But first … one more mock draft. In Mock Draft 4.0 we go heavy on offense. There is a debate about whether the Jets should concentrate on building around quarterback Zach Wilson, the presumptive No. 2 pick, or pick the best player regardless of whether they play offense or defense. For this exercise, we leaned toward offense and used only two picks to help Robert Saleh’s defense.
We used the PFF mock draft simulator to help us out and here is what we came up with for the Jets 2021 Draft:
Round 1 (No. 2 overall) — QB Zach Wilson, BYU
This has been the obvious choice for weeks. Now, Wilson gets to hear his name called and walk across the stage in Cleveland. The next would-be franchise quarterback for the Jets begins his career.
Round 1 (No. 23 overall) — G Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC
Most mock drafts have Vera-Tucker going in the teens, but he was available at 23 in this simulation. I think he is the ideal player for the Jets to take with their second pick. Guard is a weakness on this team and Vera-Tucker can fill the hole. He is moving from left tackle with the Trojans. Joe Douglas can add another piece to the line to protect Wilson.
Round 2 (No. 34 overall) — WR Elijah Moore, Ole Miss
Wide receiver is not a huge priority in this draft to me after the Jets signed Corey Davis in free agency, but I did not see many good options here at cornerback or running back, and Moore can be a do-everything type of player for Mike LaFleur. Moore has 4.35 speed and can be a weapon on jet sweeps and with short passes. He can be a slot receiver to replace Jamison Crowder in a year.
Round 3 (No. 66 overall) — CB Eric Stokes, Georgia
I would like to have addressed cornerback earlier in this draft, but I’ll jump on Stokes here, who many people project as a second-round pick. A former track star, he ran a 4.29 40-yard dash. He had four interceptions and allowed just 38.5 percent of passes his way to be completed.
Round 3 (No. 86 overall) — RB Michael Carter, UNC
LaFleur needs an explosive back and Carter is one. He had 23 plays of 20 yards or more last season, per Dane Brugler. He shared the load in college and the Jets will ask him to as a rookie, too. He left North Carolina with school records in rushing yards per carry in a game (12.83), season (7.98) and career (6.62).
Round 4 (No. 107 overall) — LB Monty Rice, Georgia
As the Jets switch to a 4-3, Saleh needs some linebackers. Rice was a team captain for the Bulldogs, something Douglas loves. He showed toughness by playing through injuries in college and led the team in tackles in 2019.
Round 5 (No. 146 overall) — WR Josh Palmer, Tennessee
Poor quarterback play led to a lack of production for Palmer, who has a nice blend of size and speed. At this point in the draft, you are taking projects. There would be very few expectations for Palmer as a rookie and the hope would be that the coaching staff could develop him.
Round 5 (No. 154 overall) — OT D’Ante Smith, East Carolina
This is similar to the Jets’ selection of Bryce Hall last year. Medical questions surround Smith after he suffered a knee injury last year and a back injury in 2016. He impressed at the Senior Bowl and is worth taking a chance on.
Round 6 (No. 186 overall) — FB/TE Ben Mason, Michigan
Look at how important Kyle Juszczyk has been to the 49ers offense the last few years. The Jets need a fullback. Mason would fit the bill. He even started games at defensive tackle in college, showing he can be a versatile weapon.
Round 6 (No. 226 overall) — K Evan McPherson, Florida
I went off the simulator for this one. PFF does not have kickers in its mock draft machine, but I think Douglas could use his last pick on one, just like last year when he took punter Braden Mann. McPherson is the best kicker in the draft and could give the Jets stability at the position.
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