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Let’s provide a warm welcome back to New York Jets football, well sort of.
For the first time, this offseason players can report to the team facilities, this is completely voluntary, and the mandatory stuff doesn’t start until minicamp.
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1. The Jets officially report today for voluntary offseason training activities, what is the No. 1 storyline that you’re watching?
Before the influx of rookies — which will no doubt add a ton of intriguing storylines — the focus has to be on Mekhi Becton. Some within the industry still believe the Jets will draft another offensive tackle in round one.
If they do that, does that put Becton on the hot seat in training camp? Keep in mind that head coach Robert Saleh already said the former first-round pick will have to beat out George Fant for the left tackle job.
Becton looks to be in tremendous shape but the draft will show us whether or not management is buying into his newfound work ethic. If they draft a tackle in the first, that is a clear indictment of “the Big Ticket’s” future with this franchise.
No doubt that Becton is a big one and happy birthday, by the way, the big man turned 23 today. This will be his first time officially stepping on the scale for the green and white, although they should have a pretty good idea of what number will come up because they have worked with his nutritionist behind the scenes.
One that I think is incredibly pressing is wide receiver, Denzel Mims.
It is quite possible his fate is already sealed by way of the Jets’ upcoming draft plans, but he has a chance to try and change that. His agent has been sending the team some of his workout videos and perhaps that is why the Jets haven’t added another wide receiver.
Right now he has a path to opportunity, but if they add another talent via trade or the draft as they have attempted to do, Mims could be vying for the fifth spot at wide receiver.
2. A lot of players are coming off of disappointing campaigns, which one do you expect to bounce back in 2022?
So many ways I could go with this answer and I want to give a nod to Carl Lawson, if that counts, but I’ll actually say Becton.
I am not of the belief that the Jets will draft an offensive tackle in round one. I do believe they will take one somewhere in the range of round two-four but that player would serve as a key reserve to start the season.
In my mind, Becton will start at one of the two tackle spots and he just seems more motivated than ever before. He’s aware of everything people are saying about him and he’s hellbent on proving people wrong.
With so many options, it is hard to have a wrong answer to this question. I’ll go with a somewhat safe answer and say wide receiver, Corey Davis.
He has a multi-year sample size to tell us exactly who he is: a physical wideout, excels in contested catch situations, solid No. 2, and would rather let his play on the field do the talking.
Last year was a series of unfortunate events. He had high moments (like the season opener), but struggled with the pressure and defensive attention of being the top guy on the depth chart. Davis had uncharacteristic drops, fumbles, and injuries.
If I was a betting man he would be the stock I would purchase and feel very comfortable that he will bounce back in 2022.
3. Provide me your worst-case most realistic Jets draft scenario in the first round at No. 4 and No. 10 overall?
I think there’s a good chance both those players will be available at 4 and 10, so this is realistic, and would target the two positions I feel the Jets don’t need. Many supporters believe Gang Green needs a cornerback and I just don’t think they do — no, I don’t want Sauce Gardner either but would be less upset about that pick.
It’s been the theme of the mailbag column for me, Becton deserves one last shot to prove he’s a starter. Draft a tackle but don’t spend a first-round pick on one. The only offensive lineman I can stomach in round one is Ikem Ekwonu because I love him as a prospect. Neal and Charles Cross are no-nos.
As for Stingley, he could turn out to be a great NFL player, I just don’t want the Jets to be the franchise that takes a chance on him. Plus, I think Bryce Hall and D.J. Reed Jr. make a formidable pair for this zone-heavy system.
I’ll start in reverse, Penning would just be a massive reach according to all of the data we have in front of us. Sure the Jets coached him at the Senior Bowl, guess what? They coached a lot of people at the Senior Bowl, but that doesn’t mean they have to draft them.
Unlike most of Jets nation, I can understand the Jets investing a premium resource into the offensive line with the uncertainty at offensive tackle, but Penning isn’t a guy I’m willing to do it for.
Now looking at the No. 4 overall pick, there are a lot of ways the Jets could go that I would say to myself, that makes sense. Walker the “EDGE rusher” and I have that in quotes for a reason isn’t one of them.
This guy is a total projection at the next level and we’re looking at some advanced metrics to convince ourselves he can be a superstar at the next level. A high floor run defender is great to have, especially on a defense as bad as the Jets, but not with a top-10 pick. Look at the stats, he had 9.5 sacks in three seasons, no freaking thank you.
He would be a total reach and I’d be willing to bet the Jets will regret this pick sooner rather than later. Unfortunately, there is very real hype here, the only thing we can hope for is that he goes inside the top-three picks so the Jets can be saved from themselves.
4. Provide me with your best-case most realistic Jets draft scenario in the first round at No. 4 and No. 10 overall?
The best-case scenario with no trades involved (my dream scenario from a few weeks ago involved trades) would be that the Jets eliminate two needs — edge rusher and wide receiver.
It’s a pretty simple ask and might be the likeliest scenario of Joe Douglas’ two selections, but that’s what I want. At EDGE, the two guys I’d want are either Kayvon Thibodeaux or Jermaine Johnson II. Honestly, I’m good with either of those two at No. 4, even if some people think Johnson is a reach there. Personally, I don’t.
At No. 10, I would probably select Jameson Williams if he’s there. The Jets aren’t trying to win a Super Bowl in 2022, so why not take the most talented receiver in the class, even if he’s currently rehabbing from an injury.
KT has been my prospect of choice since last fall and I’m not changing. If he is there at No. 4 Thibodeaux is the clear and obvious choice. He has the talent, the demeanor, and the style to fit right in with the green and white.
At No. 10 I’d love to double dip on defense with an addition to the backend of the defense. Preferably I’d take Sauce Gardner if he was there, but I could get behind a Kyle Hamilton or Derek Stingley pick.
I know this question only said No. 4 and No. 10, but I’m going to cheat a little and say the added best-case scenario would be a level of aggression that allows you to trade up from the second round back into the first round to go get your guy, whoever that is at wide receiver.
Think about that for a second: two elite game-changing players at two levels of your defense and a fun new toy for Zach Wilson? Sign me up for that yesterday!
5. What is the biggest Jets rumor out there that is complete hogwash ahead of the draft?
I’m going to say that they are interested in Gardner at No. 4, and this could definitely blow up in my face. I just don’t see how the Jets can justify drafting a cornerback that early in round one after they gave starter money to Reed and have three decent CBs on the roster — if you count nickelback Michael Carter II.
Hall put up solid numbers in 2021 and Saleh has propped him up like a future leader of the defense in interviews. They’ve done the same for Brandin Echols, who they supposedly like a lot.
Drafting Gardner at No. 4 would be like telling both Hall and Echols we don’t believe in you. It would also ignore four larger needs — pass rusher, wide receiver linebacker, and defensive tackle (the last two would not be solved at No. 4 but could be solved with a top-40 pick).
I’ll go with a nugget I just heard from a reliable source, but I just can’t stomach it. On my radio show: ‘The Manchild Show with Boy Green’ I had NFL draft analyst Russell Brown on and he said the “Jets love Jameson Williams at No. 4.”
Basically, there was a source conversation between Brown and someone in the know who said they want their version of Tyreek Hill after failing to trade for him and Williams fits that bill. The fear from the Jets, per this conversation, is that he wouldn’t make it back to No. 10 so they don’t want to miss out on their guy.
I’m prepared to be stunned during the draft, but this would shock me. It would go against every Douglas philosophy of team building and Williams is coming off of a torn ACL, it just doesn’t make sense with the fourth overall pick. I’m going to completely discount it and we’ll see what happens on draft day.