If the New York Jets are getting an injection of offensive playmaking talent this offseason to support quarterback Sam Darnold, it might be coming via the draft.
One of the Jets’ largest concerns following a 7-9 2019 season was its offensive line — a unit that offered little protection for Darnold while leaving All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell out to dry during his first season with the franchise.
The Jets’ offensive line had an adjusted sack rate of 9.2% per Football Outsiders, which ranked 30th in the league.
When it came to the run game, the Jets’ average of 3.29 yards per carry was the second-worst mark in the NFL.
With the 11th pick in the draft next month, the Jets have a chance to take one of the top offensive lineman available in the 2020 draft class. It’s worth noting here that there is a steep drop off from the top four prospects and the rest of the field at that position.
But when looking at the 10 teams picking ahead of the Jets, you could make a case that each of them could use help along the offensive line. Obviously, you won’t see 10 offensive linemen taken in the first 10 picks.
However, four of those teams, like the Giants, Cardinals, Lions, or Browns could snag those four highly-touted protectors in Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs, Louisville’s Mekhi Becton, Georgia’s Andrew Thomas, or Alabama’s Jedrick Wills.
It looks as though Jets general manager Joe Douglas has prepared for such a scenario to the point where he might not take an offensive lineman at all in the first round.
Since free agency began last week, the Jets picked up Connor McGovern, George Fant, Josh Andrews, and Greg Van Roten while re-signing Alex Lewis.
With Chuma Edoga at right tackle, Gang Green’s offensive line seems set, for the time being, meaning that pick at No. 11 could be used for another major concern.
Given its place just outside the top-10, that’s prime wide-receiver-picking territory.
The Jets could have their pick of the litter at the position, including the very best prospects, which would give Sam Darnold a young pass catcher that could develop into a wide receiver of the future.
Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy is coming off a two-season stretch in which he caught 24 touchdowns and racked up 2,478 yards on 145 catches, making him the top-perceived receiver this year.
Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb is one of the best vertical threats out there but his route-running is believed to be inferior to Jeudy’s. That being said, he showed last year that he has one of the best sets of hands in the country and is monstrous creating yards after the catch.
Jeudy’s Alabama teammate, Henry Ruggs III is perceived as the second coming of Tyreek Hill — a speedster who is uncatchable in the open field.
Any of those three players brings legitimacy to the Jets’ wide-receiving corps, regardless of what happens with Robby Anderson’s unknown future in free agency.