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Breaking down and grading Jets’ 2021 NFL Draft picks

Zach Wilson Jets NFL Draft
The Jets took Zach Wilson with the second pick of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

For the New York Jets, the 2021 NFL Draft will always and forever be about Zach Wilson. 

The newest hope of the franchise and No. 2 overall pick out of BYU will try to be something the Jets haven’t had since the early days of Joe Namath: a franchise quarterback. 

But the Jets had other big-time needs to address throughout the weekend and they only ticked off a few of those boxes — most notably missing out on an edge rusher — ultimately putting the slightest of dampers on a weekend that, once again, will be about the quarterback. 

Let’s take a look at all 10 picks made by Gang Green over the weekend:

1st Round, Pick 2

Zach Wilson, QB, BYU

Wilson translated a strong showing in 2020 and an impressive pro day to a catapult up draft boards where the Jets became enamored with him. An athletic quarterback with a strong arm, Wilson possesses the confidence needed to lead the Jets out of the doldrums, but ultimately, it comes down to his composure to thrive in this organization. 

 

1st Round, Pick 14

Alijah Vera-Tucker, G, USC

The Jets traded up from the No. 23 pick to take Vera-Tucker and address their overwhelming needs on the offensive lines, ensuring more protection for Wilson moving forward. He’s an athletic big man who is versatile enough to play both the guard and tackle position and possesses the kind of strength needed in the trenches to sustain a solid ground game, too.

 

2nd Round, Pick 2 (34)

Elijah Moore, WR, Ole Miss

The Jets needed to bring on some more playmakers even after snagging Corey Davis in free agency and Moore is just that. He set a school record last season with 86 catches for 1,193 yards and eight touchdowns. He’s going to add a strong inside presence, though it remains to be seen if he’ll be a replacement or complement for veteran pass-catcher, Jamison Crowder. 

 

4th Round, Pick 2 (107)

Michael Carter, RB, North Carolina

As it stands, the backfield belongs to Tevin Coleman, but Carter was drafted as a complementary option that could see the Jets’ ground game carried by a committee. Carter was an all-around menace in 2020, leading the country with an average of 7.98 yards per carry while finishing fourth with 1,245 rushing yards to go with nine touchdowns. It earned him AP All-American third-team honors and a first-team All-ACC selection. He also added 25 receptions for 267 yards and two scores. 

 

5th Round, Pick 2 (146)

Jamien Sherwood, S, Auburn

Sherwood brings some muscle into the Jets’ secondary as he built a reputation at Auburn as a highlight-making tackler that will make receivers think twice about going over the middle. But his viability as a safety is still in question as coverage concerns remain, creating the possibility of him moving to linebacker down the road. 

 

5th Round, Pick 10 (154)

Michael Carter II, CB, Duke

That’s right, the Jets drafted two Michael Carters, but this cornerback from Duke was a third-team All-ACC pick as a safety in 2020, accruing 41 tackles, three for a loss, with two interceptions, and eight pass breakups in 11 starts. 

 

5th Round, Pick 31 (175)

Jason Pinnock, CB, Pittsburgh

The Jets made a second-straight cornerback pick in the fifth round in hopes that Pinnock will mirror the success of another corner they chose out of Pittsburgh years ago in Darrelle Revis. Pinnock posted three interceptions in 10 starts to go with five pass breakups and 19 tackles in 2020. 

 

6th Round, Pick 2 (186)

Hamsah Nasirildeen, S, Florida State

Nasirildeen could very well be one of the Jets’ best steals at the draft as the Florida State product is projected to make a push to become a starter within the Gang Green secondary. Injuries limited his 2020 to just two games, but still put up 13 tackles with an interception. He was a second-team All-ACC member in 2019 after posting 101 tackles and two picks with three forced fumbles.

 

6th Round, Pick 16 (200)

Brandin Echols, CB, Kentucky

Echols will provide depth within the Jets’ cornerback ranks after starting 11 games last season for the Wildcats with an interception and 54 tackles. 

 

6th Round, Pick 23 (207)

Jonathan Marshall, DT, Arkansas

The Jets used their last pick to address the interior of their defensive line. Marshall though is slated to be a backup in the NFL after posting career highs with 35 tackles, 6.5 for loss, and one sack in 10 starts.

 

amNewYork Metro’s Grade: B

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