NY Jets 3-round 2021 NFL Mock Draft 7.0: CB at 23? | NFL Insider Ralph Vacchiano

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Ralph Vacchiano
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Greg Newsome II defends at Northwesters
Greg Newsome II defends at Northwesters

There is almost never universal agreement among NFL coaches, scouts and executives about anything, but this year they are all in the same chorus when it comes to the top of the NFL Draft. The Jacksonville Jaguars are going to draft Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence at No. 1. And the Jets are taking BYU quarterback Zach Wilson at No. 2.

It is much harder to figure out the Jets’ second first-round pick way down at No. 23. It’s not difficult to see what direction they’ll likely go, considering their huge holes at cornerback and edge rusher as well as their need along the offensive line. The difficulty is in figuring out what players will be available. There’s always a chance that someone they have rated in their Top 20 or Top 15 will unexpectedly slip.

With two weeks to go, the situation is still very fluid. But I’ll take another shot at it in my latest, updated, three-round mock draft, version 7.0:

First round (2nd overall) – BYU QB Zach Wilson

Nothing to see here. Move along. The NFL Draft really starts with the San Francisco 49ers at No. 3.

Yes, I’m going to look pretty foolish if the Jets call an audible and take Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields instead. But at least I’ll have plenty of company.

(Previous picks: Wilson; Wilson; Oregon OT Penei Sewell; Alabama WR Jaylen Waddle (trading down to 8); Sewell; LSU WR Ja’Marr Chase)


First round (23rd overall) – Northwestern CB Greg Newsome II

There will be many potential options here. They could get a Top 5 offensive lineman. They might get the second- or third-best edge rusher in the draft. They could even take the first running back off the board.

But it’s hard to see them passing on a cornerback, given the depth at the top of this class and the glaring need they have at this position. The only question is which corner falls this far. It won’t be Alabama’s Patrick Surtain and it seems increasingly unlikely it’ll be South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn. Newsome figures to be the one, unless the back procedure that Virginia Tech’s Caleb Farley really scares teams off more than expected.

If the 6-foot, 190-pound Newsome is the guy, though, it’s hard to see the Jets passing him up when scouts continue to rave about what a perfect fit he’d be in Robert Saleh’s defense. He’s got the tape to back up his skills, rarely getting beat for the Wildcats. And the 4.38 he ran in the 40 answered any lingering questions about his speed.

If he’s gone, it’ll be interesting to see if the Jets take a chance on Farley. If they’re lucky, though, they won’t have to make that call.

(Previous picks: Newsome; Newsome; South Carolina CB Jaycee Horn; Clemson RB Travis Etienne; Minnesota WR Rashod Bateman; Horn)


Second round, 34th overall – Alabama RB Najee Harris

The NFL has been debating for years whether it’s smart to take a running back in the first round. There are obviously some that are so talented teams can’t pass them up and they end up going maybe a little higher than they should. And then there are years like this, where the NFL isn’t quite sure about the talented backs available.

There’s no doubt that Harris and Clemson’s Travis Etienne are the top two in some order. They could both squeeze into the bottom of the first round. But the sense I get is that won’t happen. One of them will slip.

Whether Harris or Etienne is more likely to fall really depends on which team jumps in the first round. The 6-1, 232-pound Harris might actually be the better fit for the Jets. He has the power, toughness and attitude to be the power back in the Jets’ offense, while La’Mical Perine and Tevin Coleman supply the flash. Don’t mistake Harris for an all-power back, though. He had 43 catches out of the backfield as a senior to go with his 1,466 yards rushing. He also had 30 total touchdowns and showed good moves and breakaway speed.

(Previous picks: Clemson RB Travis Etienne; Oklahoma State OL Tevin Jenkins; Penn State DE Jason Oweh; Miami DE Jaelen Phillips; Phillips, Etienne)

Third round (66th overall) – Michigan OT Jaylen Mayfield

There was a time in this process when the 6-foot-5, 326-pound Mayfield was projected as a late first-rounder and considered one of the second-tier of tackles in this draft. Some still think that’s where he fits in, but the sense I get is NFL scouts are not as high on him as others may be.

There aren’t questions about his ability and upside. It’s more a lack of excitement about where he is right now and the thought that maybe he’ll need some time to add strength and work on his technique. That’s not bad, of course, but it might be enough to drop him into the second round.

And if he gets all the way to the top of the third, he could be a steal for a Jets team that really has only one young offensive lineman in development – left tackle Mekhi Becton. They’re going to have to add more in this draft, and they won’t get out of Day 2 without adding at least one.

(Previous pick: Notre Dame OT Liam Eichenberg; Oklahoma State WR TylanWallace; Memphis RB Kenneth Gainwell; Washington CB Elijah Molden; North Carolina RB Javonte Williams; Tennessee G Trey Smith)

Third round (86th overall) – Miami TE Brevin Jordan

When a team swings and misses at a position in free agency, it’s usually a lock that they’ll follow up on that spot in the draft. So the fact that the Jets at least called to inquire about Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry before they signed with the Patriots should be a clear indication that tight end is something of a priority for them.

If they want a real top prospect they’ll have to jump on one in the first two rounds because the talent drops off pretty quickly. But the 6-3, 245-pound Jordan definitely has some potential. He was a good receiver in college and showed toughness in barreling for extra yardage after the catch. He’ll need work as a blocker, but most tight ends coming out of college these days do.

For the Jets, Jordan could be an instant upgrade over the wildly inconsistent and disappointing Chris Herndon. And if you’re not sold on the Jets wanting a tight end, remember what George Kittle did in the offensive system the Jets are about to start running. They need to find themselves a player like him.

(Previous pick: Jordan; Oregon S Jevon Holland; G Quinn Meinerz, Wisconsin-Whitewater; Boston College TE Hunter Long; Ohio State C Josh Myers; Long)