The Jets have 10 picks in the 2021 draft at the end of this month – the most they’ve owned since 2014.
Unless something drastic changes between now and the draft, the Jets will pick a quarterback second overall. All signs point to Zach Wilson as the pick, but Justin Fields could still be on the table after the Jets attended his second pro day.
But quarterback isn’t the only position the Jets need to figure out in this draft. They have nine other selections to make, including another first-round pick and an early second-rounder. The offensive line, running back, cornerback and receiver are also areas of need for the Jets that need to be solved at some point in the process. The Jets could also add players to fortify positions that only need depth.
Where they draft those positions, though, will be dictated by Douglas’ evaluation of prospects, priority of the positions, and how the rest of the board falls. Taking all those factors into consideration, here is when the Jets should focus on non-QB positions of need.
Offensive line: First three rounds
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The Jets need to use at least one of their three other picks in the first three rounds on an offensive lineman – preferably one who can play in the interior. New York is set at tackle with Mekhi Becton and George Fant – though they could also use another tackle – but they still need to upgrade their guards and potentially their center. Douglas will need to look at players who understand how to block in a wide-zone running scheme, and there are a couple of good options at the end of the first round and early in the second round. If Douglas doesn't grab a lineman with either the 23rd or 34th picks, he absolutely should with the 66th pick.
Cornerback: First three rounds
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Wherever Douglas doesn't draft an offensive lineman in the first three rounds, he should draft a cornerback. It's the weakest position on the roster and there are some great prospects in the first three rounds. Greg Newsome II, Asante Samuel Jr. and Caleb Farley could all fall to one of the Jets' picks at the end of the first or early in the second. The Jets cannot come out of this draft without at least one defensive back who can start on Day 1.
Running back: Fourth round or later
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The Jets don't need another running back, at least not as bad as they need better offensive linemen and cornerbacks. New York already has four viable players at the position and using a premium pick on a rusher would be a waste when there are more pressing needs and solid prospects later in the draft.
Wide receiver: Any time
This one is all about the board. If a stud falls to No. 23, the Jets should snag him quickly – especially if targets at other positions of need are no longer available. But Douglas shouldn't actively pursue a wide receiver after adding two starting-caliber players in free agency. The Jets should probably grab at least one pass-catcher at some point in the draft – likely a slot receiver – to replace or learn from Jamison Crowder.
Edge rusher: Third round or later
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Edge rusher is another position you can never have too many of in Robert Saleh's defense. Despite adding Carl Lawson and Vinny Curry on the edge, the Jets should find another developmental-type pass rusher after figuring out offensive line and cornerback. It's not a position of need, per se, but it's one that can always use good depth.
Tight end: Fifth round or later
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Chris Herndon should bounce back from a few bad seasons under Adam Gase, but the tight end depth is pretty bad behind him. The Jets looked at pursuing Jonnu Smith before the Patriots signed him, but that doesn't mean they should use a high draft pick on a tight end. The Jets can wait on this position until much later in the draft.