Protection or another weapon for Sam Darnold? That is the question the Jets are pondering with the 11th pick.
(CBSNewYork)- With live sports events on hold until the coronavirus pandemic is under control, the NFL Draft takes on increased attention this year. While even that event will be conducted virtually from teams and the commissioner’s homes, it will still provide new, live sports content for the hungry masses. For New York Jets fans, it’s an opportunity to further build the team around quarterback Sam Darnold.
General manager Joe Douglas added a trio of offensive linemen in free agency with tackle George Fant, center Connor McGovern and guard Greg Van Roten all joining the fold. Meanwhile, the receiving corps was largely left untouched outside of the addition of Breshad Perriman on a one-year deal. Those additions has many fans thinking that the team will go receiver with the 11th overall pick next week.
The experts? They’re not as convinced.
Pete Prisco (CBS Sports)- Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
Josh Edwards (CBS Sports)- Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
Mel Kiper Jr. (ESPN)- Jedrick Wills Jr., OT, Alabama
All three of these analysts went with offensive line for the Jets with the 11th pick mostly for the same reasons. This draft is loaded with talent at wide receiver and with the team holding the 48th pick and a pair of third rounders, there will be time to add receiver talent in a deep class.
As for these three prospects, all are listed among the top five tackle prospects in the class and all have drawn comparisons that Jets fans would love to see manifest themselves. For Wirfs, the comparison Lance Zierlein of NFL.com made is long-time Packers tackle and fellow Hawkeye Bryan Bulaga. With Becton, the comparison has been former Minnesota Vikings stalwart Bryant McKinnie. As for Wills Jr., the two-year starter for the Tide has been looked at in the mold of former Eagles standout Jason Peters.
If any of those three comparisons are correct, the Jets would have found their cornerstone offensive lineman for the next eight to ten seasons.
While those three analysts see the team going line in the first round, there are still those who believe an upgrade at wide receiver is the team’s most desperate need. Lucky for Douglas, this is an historic receiver class. While the Jets are unlikely to have Alabama receiver Jerry Jeudy fall into their laps, it’s certainly possible that the next best guy on the board will.
Ryan Wilson (CBS Sports), Chris Trapasso (CBS Sports), R.J. White (CBS Sports)- CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
Lamb and Jeudy are basically considered the 1a and 1b of this year’s wide receiver class. The 6’2″ 198-pound junior doesn’t have the same route-running ability as Jeudy, but he has the edge on contested catches. With 4.5 speed, Lamb doesn’t blow corners away, but when he has the ball in space he is a nightmare to bring down. Most importantly, he was durable in college, playing all 27 games in the last two seasons for the Sooners. He would make a nice WR 1 for Darnold to grow with over the coming years.
Will Brinson (CBS Sports)- Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
Interestingly, Brinson has Ruggs going before both Lamb and Jeudy in his most recent mock. It’s understandable as to why. The 5’11” Ruggs put on a show at the Combine posting the fastest 40-time (4.27) and impressive vertical (42 inches) and broad jump (134 inches) numbers. Ruggs would give the Jets a stretch the field option, something they didn’t showcase much last season. Combined with another burner in Perriman, that could put plenty of stress on defenses deep.