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Jet Up; A look at the rest of the Jets’ 2020 draft

The New York Jets, and for that matter the rest of the teams in the NFL, had one goal coming into the 2020 NFL Draft;  Make their team better immediately and for years to come.  The draft is a time for teams to improve themselves while getting younger and replacing aging players they either can’t afford or don’t want to pay in the future.

General Manager Joe Douglas came into his first Jets’ draft with many needs, including offensive linemen and cornerbacks.  Unfortunately for him and the rest of the Jets’ brass, they somewhat missed on most of their needs.  They certainly made some good picks (including the incredible pick of Mekhi Becton) but also made some head scratching decisions along the way.  Let’s take a look at the rest of the picks.

Round 2, Number 59 pick – Denzil Mims, WR, Baylor

With Robby Anderson spurning the Jets to sign with the Carolina Panthers, the Jets needed a new wide receiver who could stretch the field.  Sure they signed Breshad Perriman and Josh Doctson but that doesn’t solve their receiving woes.  Sam Darnold needs weapons, and Mims was the perfect wide receiver to take here.

After a string of wide receivers went in the first and early second round, Mims fell into the Jets’ laps.  The Jets traded back with the Seahawks to garner additional picks and took Mims with the 59th overall.  Mims is a large wide receiver (6’3, 207 lbs) with blistering speed (4.38 40 time) who lit up the Big 12 with Baylor.  Unfortunately, pretty much every talented wide receiver can chew up porous Big 12 defenses.

According to most scouts, Mims is a talented receiver who has potential to become a good wide receiver but who isn’t a polished route runner nor a master of his craft.  He’s a bit of a project but his upside is the reason why the Jets took him in the second round.  He may not immediately make an impact but he could have big value going forward.

Round 3, Number 68 pick – Ashtyn Davis, S, Cal

An interesting pick in the third round, Davis was essentially picked because of the uncertainty that surrounds Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye.  Adams has long wanted to be traded to a contender and will most likely not sign an extension with the Jets, and Maye has been injury prone and is in the final year of his contract as well.

Davis has seven career interceptions, is a swiss army knife in the defensive backfield and plays special teams as well.  Davis is a former walk-on and actually won an NCAA award for being the nation’s top walk-on player.  Davis is a project as well but he’s tenacious and has a never-ending motor.

There’s a reason why Douglas picked him, and that’s due to his upside and the fact that he was able to work from walk-on to starting safety.  He is a former cornerback and although he has some injury concerns of his own (groin surgery in December) he should still make an impact with the Jets immediately.

Round 3, Number 79 pick – Jabari Zuniga, DE, Florida

Considered to be a steal in Round 3, Zuniga is one of the most athletic defensive ends in the draft.  He’s 6’3, 264 lbs and can run a 4.64 40.  Although 40 times don’t always mean all that much, the fact that he’s an athletic freak and was extremely productive at Florida (18.5 career sacks) was worth the downside.

Zuniga’s downside is that although he was extremely productive, he was rarely on the field.  He missed some games in 2017 for the Gators and is recovering from a high-ankle sprain that cost him half the season last year.  If Zuniga can recover fully and help the Jets attack the quarterback, he’ll be a welcome addition.

Round 4, Number 120 pick – La’Michal Perine, RB, Florida

Another Gator product, Perine comes in as the number two back to Le’Veon Bell, with the opportunity to grow and play with the young Sam Darnold.  Perine is a bigger back at 5’11, 216 lbs and similar to Bell is a threat out of the backfield with 40 receptions and five touchdowns at Florida.

The biggest issue with Perine is that he isn’t a burner in any sense of the word.  He ran just a 4.62 40 time at the Combine and the Jets could benefit from having a speedster behind Bell instead of a similar back.  However, some players, like Jerry Rice (not making a comparison) are so much faster with the ball in their hands.

Round 4, Number 125 pick – James Morgan, QB, FIU

One of the more puzzling selections, the Jets took quarterback James Morgan with the Number 125 pick.  While Morgan is a large quarterback (6’4) and has excellent arm strength, he isn’t particularly accurate and makes plenty of poor decisions.

He throws touchdowns to interceptions at almost a 2 to 1 ratio (65 touchdowns, 34 interceptions) and he’s known as an erratic thrower.  After last season the Jets need to improve the backup QB position, but they would have been better off signing a veteran presence to back up Sam Darnold.

Morgan is a major product and although they don’t have many other options (David Fales, Mike White), if Morgan is thrown into the fire with a Darnold injury, he’ll look less prepared than Luke Falk.

Round 4, Number 129 pick – Cameron Clark, OT, Charlotte

Clark was taken to shore up the offensive line depth some more.  With recently signed George Fant, the Jets now have an insurance policy with Clark.  Although nothing particularly sticks out about Clark’s game, he was a three time starter and a captain for two years with Charlotte.

Clark is a relatively big tackle (6’5, 308 lbs) but this pick is a bit of a mystery too as the Jets could have addressed other needs here.  It’s always good to have offensive line depth but is Clark really worthy of ever being a starter in this league?

Round 5, Number 158 pick – Bryce Hall, CB, Virginia

Probably the biggest need for the Jets right now, they didn’t address it until the fifth round when most of the elite and excellent cornerbacks were already gone.  They got a potentially good player in Hall, who broke up 24 passes in 2018 and who has five career interceptions.

Hall is a good height for a cornerback (6’1) but lacks athleticism right now, mostly due to him coming off ankle surgery.  If Hall doesn’t have the speed or strength in his ankles to keep up with the elite wide receivers of the AFC, he’s going to become a big time liability.

It was a good pick by Joe Douglas but based on the value of other picks, cornerback should have been addressed much earlier than in the middle of the fifth round.  If the Jets had used one of the previous picks to take a cornerback rather than take someone like Hall with a questionable medical background, maybe this pick would be treated differently.

Round 6, Number 191 pick – Braden Mann, P, Texas A&M

A former Ray Guy award winner for best punter in the NCAA, Mann will take over for the recently departed Lachlan Edwards.  While Punter isn’t a sexy position to draft for, Mann is one of the best, averaging a 49 yard gross average over his career.

Mann is also an excellent kickoff specialist, garnering a 66% touchback rate on his kicks in college, which is an excellent percentage considering how poor college kickers are.  Mann will be asked to punt and will hopefully be the special teams player the Jets envision him to be.

 

Overall Joe Douglas did a decent job filling out the roster for next season.  The biggest positives to his draft were that he picked a group of players with very high upside and leadership qualities (four former captains).

However, the biggest downside to most of these picks is that they’re considered injury-prone and projects.  Douglas also may have reached a bit with some picks (Morgan) and waited a bit to long to address other needs (not addressing the CB issue until the fifth round).

I’m not a General Manager and I do not know enough about the collective picks to give a full draft grade, but it will be interesting to see who out of this group of draftees pushes for starting jobs, contributes on special teams and most importantly stays healthy throughout the year.

 

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Chris Passarelli
Football Editor - Hockey Editor - New York Islanders Lead Writer - New York Lizards Lead Writer - UConn Football Lead Writer
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