NFL Mock Draft: What we think the NY Jets should do with every 2021 pick, including a trade

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Jets CEO Christopher Johnson talks about changes to the organizational structure and the return of Woody Johnson on Thursday, January 21, 2021. NorthJersey.com

New York Jets general manager Joe Douglas was busy during the first two weeks of free agency. And it would be hard to argue that his team is not better for it.

But the Jets have a long way to go before they are anything close to talented. And Douglas knows better than anyone that the road to respectability will be constructed in late April. 

“Ultimately for us to get to where the great teams are, the most consistent teams are, you do that through the draft,” Douglas said. “It’s the most team-friendly market in sports. For us to really be that team that’s consistently competing for Super Bowls, we have to hit on our draft picks.”

The Jets have a massive opportunity to accelerate their rebuild next month with nine draft picks, including four selections in the top 86. So with most of the free-agency money spent, I decided to put myself in Douglas’ shoes — without the immense pressure or made-for-TV war room — and figure out how I’d use those picks to make the Jets better. 

I also took some inspiration from Douglas, who made three trades during last year’s draft, and make a deal of my own. And while it isn’t a blockbuster, it’s a good example of how the Jets can use the draft capital they’ve amassed to fill holes in the roster.  

So let’s get to it. Here’s my latest Jets seven-round mock draft,

Round 6: Jaret Patterson, RB, Buffalo

No. 186 overall: The Jets focused mostly on their defense in free agency, so offense is likely to be the priority in the draft. Patterson doesn’t have an especially high ceiling. But he has the body and strength to be an immediate contributor as a power runner, which makes him a good fit at a position where the Jets lack proven contributors. 

MORE:Who will start for the Jets in 2021? A very early depth chart projection

Round 5: Brenden Jaimes, OL, Nebraska

No. 154 (acquired from the Giants in the 2019 Leonard Williams trade): He was a solid left tackle at Nebraska and impressed at the Senior Bowl where he lined up at guard. Douglas loves versatility in offensive linemen and while Jaimes likely isn’t ready to contribute as a rookie, he has all the tools to eventually be a starter at guard or tackle and a late-round steal for the Jets. 

Round 5: Benjamin St-Juste, CB, Minnesota

No. 146: As we saw in free agency, Douglas likes high-upside players. And St-Juste, who is 6-3, with uncommon length and athleticism, has massive potential at a position the Jets must address. His injury history and questionable speed will push him to the middle rounds, but Robert Saleh’s defense would be an ideal place to develop.

MOCK TRADE! Jets make deal with Buccaneers

The Jets have a lot of needs and while they’d get the most value dealing the No. 2 pick, they can still use one of their other picks high picks to multiply their Day 2 opportunities. Here’s the deal: the Jets send No. 23 (acquired from Seattle in the 2020 Jamal Adams trade) and their fourth-round pick, No. 107, to the Bucs in exchange for the No. 32 pick, the No. 64 pick and the No. 95 pick.

Round 3, Jaelon Darden, WR, 

No. 95 (acquired from Tampa Bay in mock trade): He has the potential to do something special every time he touches the ball and could excel in the Jets’ new offense, which is likely to focus on giving weapons opportunities in space. His size is a concern, but his ability to make defenders miss — as a receiver and kick returner — is something the Jets need badly.

MORE: Jets prioritize defensive line in free agency, why it makes sense

Round 3, Chazz Surratt, LB, North Carolina

No. 86 (acquired from Seattle in 2020 Jamal Adams trade): The former quarterback is one of the most intriguing linebacker prospects in the draft, because he has the speed, fluidity and instincts to eventually play every down. He’s still learning a new position and he needs to improve his strength and tackling, but his ability in coverage could make him an immediate contributor. 

Round 3: Dillon Radunz, OL, NDSU

No. 66: He didn’t allow a sack as Trey Lance’s left tackle in 2020  has the versatility to play guard, which will get the Jets’ attention. Radunz gained 40 pounds in college to transform from a defensive line recruit into one of the nation’s best FCS offensive lineman, getting even better after a torn ACL in 2017. 

Round 2: Aaron Robinson, CB, UCF

No. 64 (acquired from Tampa Bay in mock trade): The Jets don’t have a proven cornerback on the roster at the moment, so it’s hard to imagine them waiting long to add one. Robinson projects as a slot cornerback at the next level, but he has experience playing outside and enough size (6-0, 190 pounds) to match up against tight ends, which the Jets are going to need after the Patriots added the two best available in free agency. 

Round 2: Pat Freiermuth, TE, Penn State

No. 34: New offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur, previously the 49ers passing game coordinator, knows how to get a tight end involved in the offense. And Freiermuth would be the perfect weapon for the Jets. He’s a mismatch waiting to happen at 6-5, 250 with reliable hands and strong route-running skills, His injury history and average blocking, given his size, are concerns, but potential as an elite target makes him the right pick.

MORE:Did new Jets WR Corey Davis give away Joe Douglas’ secret QB plan? 

Round 1: Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State

No. 32 (acquired from Tampa Bay in mock trade): Outside of finding a quarterback, it’s hard to imagine anything the Jets need more than an offensive line upgrade. Jenkins, a right guard most of his college career, checks all the boxes. He has prior experience at guard, plug-and-play size (6-6, 320) and strength, and plays with an edge that Douglas and the Jets starting quarterback in 2021 will surely appreciate. 

Round 1: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

No. 2: Yes, all the signs point toward the Jets drafting Zach Wilson. And Wilson was phenomenal in his pro day last week. But Fields also has tremendous arm talent, elite mobility and uncommon toughness — and put all of it on display, playing for a championship, in his final two college games. Evaluating a quarterback is not easy and picking one this high is always a risk, just look at the 2017 and 2018 drafts, but Fields’ longer track record against elite competition makes him the better choice. 

Andy Vasquez is the Jets beat writer for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to all Jets analysis, news, trades and more, please subscribe today and download our app.

Email: vasqueza@northjersey.com 

Twitter: @andy_vasquez 

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