Jets three-round 2021 NFL Mock Draft 6.0: No surprise as Gang Green lands franchise QB at No. 2

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Ralph Vacchiano
·6 min read
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Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Zach Wilson pass vs UCF Knights
Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Zach Wilson pass vs UCF Knights

The mystery is gone. So is Sam Darnold. Even Jets GM Joe Douglas has admitted it’s a “fair assessment” to say the Jets will be taking a quarterback with the No. 2 overall pick in the draft.

Even that player isn’t really much of a mystery now.

Of course, the Jets have two first-round picks, five picks overall in the first two days, and plenty of other needs. So what are the Jets thinking in the first round and the rest of the early part of the draft?

Take a look at my latest, updated, three-round mock draft, version 6.0:

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

The Jets have either completely locked in on the 6-2, 214-pound Wilson or they’re pulling off one of the greatest smokescreens of all time. Of course, there’s not really a reason to try to fool anyone. They’re not looking to deal the pick and there’s no worries about someone trading over them. At this point, they could really start selling Wilson jerseys in the team store.

So what’s the hold up in making it official? There really isn’t one. They know the Jaguars are taking Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence No. 1. Multiple sources have confirmed they prefer Wilson over Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields. About the only thing that could possibly change this pick is if something unexpected pops up this weekend when Wilson is among the 150 top prospects who are invited to Indianapolis for combine-style physicals.

If, as expected, Wilson is deemed healthy, there’ll be nothing standing in the way of the Wilson Era beginning in Florham Park.

(Previous picks: 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’s no change to the Jets’ first first-round choice, and at this point there’s no reason to change the second one, either. The Jets have several big holes to fill, including along the offensive line, at edge rusher and, obviously, at quarterback. But cornerback has stood out because they really made little-to-no effort to fill it in free agency. That’s odd, considering the returning starters are Bless Austin and Bryce Hall.

That could indicate they’re targeting a corner in the draft, and it makes much more sense to do it in the first round. Offensive linemen can be found later, and this generally isn’t a great draft for edge rushers. They should be able to find a pretty good corner at 23, though, even if the 6-foot, 190-pound Newsome is the fourth corner off the board.

He certainly has the skills to help the Jets. He played in a defensive scheme similar to what Robert Saleh is expected to run in New York. He rarely got beat in college and ran a 4.38 in the 40 at his Pro Day. The Jets would certainly consider South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn or Virginia Tech’s Caleb Farley if they fell this far, but they almost certainly won’t.

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

Second round, 34th overall – Clemson RB Travis Etienne

There is no doubt that the 5-10, 215-pound Etienne is a first-round talent and a dangerous offensive weapon, but running backs do tend to slip farther than expected in drafts. That’ll help the Jets who need a running back to power the run-centric offense new offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur is bringing with him from San Francisco. They’re not going to go with second-year pro La'Mical Perine and newly signed Tevin Coleman alone. There’s too much risk.

With Etienne they get a guy who was a machine in college, rushing for nearly 5,000 yards in his four-year career and scoring a ridiculous 70 rushing touchdowns. He even got better as a receiver, catching 48 passes for 588 yards in 12 games last year.

He has 4.41 speed, a breakaway burst and the power and strength to get the tough yards inside. With the Jets he won’t have to carry a full load either, though he likely would quickly emerge as their No. 1 back.

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

Third round (66th overall) – Notre Dame OT Liam Eichenberg

It’s impossible to imagine that Douglas won’t take an offensive lineman (or two?) in the first two days of the NFL draft. His oft-stated philosophy is that building a team starts in the trenches, and he knows that the line he’s built has fallen short.

That line needs immediate replacements, but in lieu of that it at least needs some good young talent to grow along with left tackle Mekhi Becton. Enter the 6-5, 302-pound Eichenberg who probably could use a little time to grow into a pro job, but who could definitely at least compete for a job from the start. He’s said to be a better run-blocker at the moment, but there’s obvious potential in pass-blocking, too.

The one question about him seems to be whether his pro spot will be at tackle or guard. Good thing for him, the Jets need help at both.

(Previous pick: Oklahoma State WR Tylan Wallace; 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

The Jets made calls about two of the big-name free agent tight ends on the market – Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry. And while they didn’t land either, that was a clear signal that they’re looking to upgrade at this position. Of course, that’s hardly a surprise to anyone who has watched Chris Herndon here the last few years.

It’s also not a surprise to anyone who watched what George Kittle became in the 49ers’ offense that the Jets will soon be running. Could the 6-3, 245-pound Jordan duplicate that success? Maybe. He is quick and elusive enough to get open and in college he was tough enough to barrel for extra yards after each catch. He may need to get a little bigger and stronger to do that in the pros, but the potential is certainly there.

There isn’t a lot in this tight end class once the draft gets past the first few. So if the Jets are going to upgrade, they’ll have to do it in the first two days, or just not do it at all.

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