Giants or Jets: After NFL Draft, which team is set up better for success in 2021?

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Scott Thompson
·6 min read
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Zach Wilson/Daniel Jones side-by-side
Zach Wilson/Daniel Jones side-by-side

With the NFL Draft behind us, both the Giants and Jets feel confident they selected the right guys to make their team better in 2021. Combined with free agent additions – and a brand new coaching staff for the Jets – both of these squads are looking to get over the hump after a few losing seasons.

But which team is set up better to do that in 2021?

Let’s break down each roster to see how they are looking for next season, and which New York team may have the upper hand over the other at the end of it all:

New York Jets

Biggest additions: QB Zach Wilson (rookie), WR Corey Davis, G Alijah Vera-Tucker (rookie), DE Carl Lawson

The Jets are all-in with a new quarterback once again following three years with Sam Darnold. Wilson is the quarterback of the future, and with new head coach Robert Saleh and offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur, the team is expecting some quick results.

GM Joe Douglas also got Wilson a couple of weapons to work with, the first being Davis. The former Titan hit the free agent market and was the first wideout off the board, as the Jets were deliberate in their pursuit of landing a big fish. But the Jets also saw speedy Ole Miss WR Elijah Moore fall out of the first round and right to them at No. 34 overall in the second round of the draft.

With Moore board, the Jets’ offense looks to have potential with Davis, Moore, Denzel Mims, Jamison Crowder and Keelan Cole on board. The backfield also added Tevin Coleman, a familiar face to a Kyle Shanahan-style offense during his time with the 49ers, and UNC rookie RB Michael Carter, who was drafted in the fourth round.

If there is a concern, it may be the offensive line and tight end. Vera-Tucker is a huge upgrade and the left side of their line with Mekhi Becton should be a formidable one. Expect many runs to go that way. Vera-Tucker is also a solid pass blocker, so Wilson should be comfortable on his blind side. On the other side of him, though, there’s some question marks. George Fant wasn’t consistent at right tackle and Greg Van Roten was beaten a good amount at right guard. Connor McGovern is solid at center, but those two slots on the right leave doubt. Maybe newcomer Dan Feeney can change that?

On defense, Saleh’s scheme is one that finds the strengths of players and just simply makes it work. But it starts in the trenches, and the Jets made additions like Lawson, Sheldon Rankins, and Vinny Curry to boost the group around Quinnen Williams. But cornerback will be interesting, as the Jets clearly had a need there heading into the draft but only selected a couple in the fifth round (Duke’s Michael Carter II, Pitt’s Jason Pinnock).

Could Richard Sherman be on the way back to a Saleh defense? It’s unknown at the moment, but as of now, Bless Austin and Bryce Hall are the favorites to start on the outside with LaMarcus Joyner pegged at the slot.

On paper, there’s some promise. But we really won’t know what the Jets are about until we see first-year head coach Saleh go to work with his group.

New York Giants

Biggest additions: WR Kenny Golladay, CB Adoree’ Jackson, TE Kyle Rudolph, WR Kadarius Toney (rookie), DE Azeez Ojulari (rookie)

GM Dave Gettleman set out to get offensive playmakers this offseason, and boy did he ever. Golladay was the main one, giving Daniel Jones a clear No. 1 receiver he hasn’t had in two seasons. He’s a big red zone target who can run any route on the field. John Ross, the man who still owns the NFL Combine 40-yard dash record, joins the team as well as he hopes to revitalize his career that has been injury laden.

And though DeVonta Smith went to the Philadelphia Eagles in a disappointing trade up with the Cowboys, the Giants traded down to No. 20 to take Kadarius Toney, whose speed and elusive abilities should come in handy out of the slot.

Oh, and did we mention Saquon Barkley is also expected to return to the backfield. And Evan Engram has a new counterpart, the veteran Rudolph coming in as a huge red zone threat as well. So basically, Jones doesn’t have any excuses this season and neither does Jason Garrett, who has more offensive weapons than he can shake a stick at.

On defense, boosts came to the secondary with Jackson being a solid No. 2 to James Bradberry. The re-signing of Leonard Williams was a key for this group, and they managed to have Ojulari slip down to No. 50 overall in the draft. He has the potential to be the edge rusher this defense was looking for. But the return of key cogs like Blake Martinez, Jabrill Peppers, Logan Ryan and more is why Giants fans should be confident Patrick Graham’s group can actually get better after a head-turning 2020 campaign.

But what about the offensive line? It wasn’t addressed at all in the draft, and only veteran stop-gap Zach Fulton was added to the mix in free agency. The Giants clearly believe in their young group, and Nate Solder makes his return after sitting out the 2020 season. Weapons are good and all, but Jones needs some time in the pocket and Barkley needs holes to run through. We’ll see if that’s an issue for these Giants, led by Judge in his second season.

Who’s got the edge?

While the Jets look more promising than they have in a decade with a new quarterback and the right pieces on the coaching staff and the front office, the answer has to be the Giants.

There’s too many question marks in Florham Park compared to East Rutherford. Of course, that could change depending on what Saleh brings to the field. But it was clear last season that the Giants are a much better team with Judge running the show, and they got even better on paper this offseason, filling key needs in the offensive and defensive sides.

That chemistry that’s already been built to go along with major talent upgrades should have the Giants at least looking at a .500 record, if not better, this season. After all, co-owner John Mara is demanding wins this season after so many losing seasons of late. The team knows they need to get the job done with the group they have.

Wilson could shock us all, but his transition to the NFL from BYU will be a storyline all season long. He’ll go through his trials and tribulations.

If it was a long-term question, maybe the answer would be different. But for the 2021 campaign, the Giants are primed for a playoff run, while the Jets – as of now – are hoping their big transformation shows progress in Year One.