I’ve done a mock draft for the Jets four of the last five years. What can I say – I’m trying to help my favorite team in sports. And the Jets need all the help they can get.
1st round, pick #3: Sam Darnold, QB, USC. In a perfect Jets world, the Browns go for Josh Allen, the Giants scoop up Saquon Barkley, and thus the best QB in the draft, Darnold, falls to New York. If he’s off the table, my choice would be Josh Rosen, the UCLA QB. If Rosen is gone, I’d sooner have Saquon Barkley than Allen or Baker Mayfield.
3rd round, pick #72. Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma. Was a record-setting wide receiver in high school, and switched to TE in Norman, when he caught 22 TDs in three seasons. Didn’t score against Georgia, Ohio State or Oklahoma State, in the biggest three games of the year. Andrews would replace Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, who left for Jacksonville. New York is dangerously thin at tight end but has an improved group of receivers. Other option: Mark Walton, RB, Miami. The Jets must add a skilled back in the draft. Matt Forte retired, and they replaced him with Isaiah Crowell (5-star recruit, kicked out of Georgia, undrafted, but is durable and never missed a game in four years with the Browns). Elijah McGuire showed flashes last year, but Walton – who was a beast as a sophomore before getting hurt as a junior – has more raw talent than all three.
4th round, pick #107: Shaquem Griffin, LB, Central Florida. Griffin was so impressive at the Combine, he’s probably a Day 2 pick, but if he falls into the 4th round, there’s huge value in Griffin, who could be a Pro Bowler on special teams. With Avery Williamson and Darron Lee in the middle for the Jets, Griffin would add speed on the outside. In addition to his talents on the field, his storybook life adds a feel-good element to a downtrodden franchise.
5th round, pick #157 (from Dallas): John Kelly, RB, Tennessee. There’s definitely a need for a RB, even after the signing of Thomas Rawls, so if they don’t draft one earlier, and Kelly is around this late … man he’d be a steal. He runs tough. Makes defenders miss. Or, he stiff arms two guys on one play. His awesome September (destroyed Georgia Tech for 128 yards, four TDs; a total of 236 yards and a TD vs Florida) was tempered by an October misdemeanor drug possession arrest. Because Alvin Kamara produced modest numbers in Knoxville, but was utterly dominant with the Saints, a team could take Kelly before this.
6th round, pick #179: Nick Gates, OT/G, Nebraska. He’s not a left tackle, but he could work at RT or guard. Gates famously was destroyed by Derek Barnett in a bowl game in 2017; Barnett went in the 1st round to the Eagles. The Jets line hasn’t been top notch since Mark Sanchez was around. Gates would add toughness to a below-average line.
7th round, pick #235 (from Seattle): Joe Ostman, DE, Central Michigan. He’s off your radar because he wasn’t invited to the Combine. (Fun note: Two recent Super Bowl MVPs were not invited to the Combine: Malcolm Smith and Malcolm Butler. Not to mention rising stars like Doug Baldwin and Adam Thielen.) But he registered 20.5 TFL and 14 sacks last year. He delivered at the East/West Shrine game (six tackles, two TFL, one sack). He was a 3-time State Wrestling champion in high school. Maybe he’s light for DE (254 pounds), but he could work in the 3-4 as a pass-rusher. The guy produces. His pro day numbers: 4.75 40, 31 reps on the bench press, 36.5 vertical.