Draft day is finally here! I don’t know about you, but it’s my favorite day of the year. Sure you have that narrative about hope and the future and all that jazz, but really I just love watching how everything unfolds. To see how teams think and build their rosters and how their blueprint differs from what I would do. I mean seriously, who isn’t excited to see what the Browns will do (really weird sentence to say that no one ever thought would be said, I know). Can they really screw up ALL those picks?
The draft is about the intrigue of the unknown, we all like to act like we know exactly what teams should and shouldn’t do. Well argue and debate about ‘who had the best draft’ and ‘who is acting like the Browns,’ yet none of us really know. Hell the teams don’t know and we won’t have any definitive answers for a couple of years in most cases, but when has that ever stopped anyone from making immediate declarative statements. Never, the answer is never.
For the Jets, a team with so many needs, the choices at six are remarkably simple in my eyes and if you are the Jets disagree you are wrong and I am right, it’s better to just accept this truth now. Accept it, embrace it, cuddle up next to it then give me the Nelson Muntz style mockery when, naturally, I’m proven wrong.
But until I’m proven wrong you can’t convince me that I’m not right and while the Jets obviously have endless options with the sixth pick, I see three realistic options for the Jets and I’ll include a half option that I don’t think will happen but hey, you have to cover all those bases.
OPTION ONE: TRADE BACK
Everyone’s favorite option. Every year no matter which players I suggest the Jets take the loudest shouts of “WRONG!” come from the trade back delegation. Of course it’s never that simple. In order to trade back you need a team to not only be willing to trade up, but to be willing to offer up enough in return to make trading back worth it. That will be even trickier this year for a number of reasons. For starters everyone seems willing to trade back, not so many are looking to trade up. Also this draft is deep, there’s going to be a lot of good to great players taken in the first round, but it’s the second and third rounds that have scouts salivating so not a lot of teams are going to be interested in giving up those picks to move up when they could stay put and simply take another player in the first with a close enough grade.
But the biggest impediment to the Jets being able to trade back is the Tennessee Titans. If a team is going to trade up in the first-round this year chances are it’s going to be for a quarterback, the prevailing thought around the league is if you want to get your choice of all the quarterbacks then you need to get in front of the Jets. The Titans are willing to capitalize on this and are listening to any and all offers. The Jets have so many holes to fill that trading back would be the best move they could make, pick up a couple of extra picks to fill out the roster and we know Mike Maccagnan will be willing to do so if the proper opportunity presents itself, but in case it doesn’t we’re on to option two.
OPTION TWO: DRAFT ONE OF THE SAFETIES
I know, I know. Not another defensive player. I get it and I can’t really argue with you, but I will anyway. Best player available means you take the best player available and most likely, in my opinion, the best player available at six will be one of the top safeties, Malik Hooker from Ohio State and Jamal Adams from LSU. I prefer the upside of Hooker but admittedly I don’t have the medical information on him that NFL teams do. Adams is the safer pick and is going to be a hell of a player. He can do it all, play the run, cover deep, line up as a nickel and cover tight ends. But Hooker is one of the rarest commodities in the sport, a true center-fielder style coverage, ballhawking free safety. Those players are rare and if the Jets’ doctors are convinced his injury issues won’t be an issue then snatch this man up and snatch him up quick.
Yes, of course the Jets need offensive weapons, but they need elite play-makers on defense and if you can get a defensive player that will help you get turnovers and get the ball back to the offense then that’s what you do.
OPTION THREE: DRAFT O.J. HOWARD
If you’re stuck on the ‘Jets need to take an offensive player’ train of thought then Alabama tight end O.J. Howard should be your pick. Listen, I understand the history of tight ends drafted in the top 10. I get it, but O.J. Howard is a different animal. Yes, the Jets have a need for a tight end so this would technically be a pick to fill a need, but not just a need for now but a need for forever. The NFL is a different game than when Vernon Davis went in the top 10, a top tight end can help a team as much as a top receiver. Don’t look at Howard as a tight end, look at him as a dynamic play-maker because that’s what he is.
Sure the history of top 10 tight ends isn’t pretty, but knowing what we know now who wouldn’t take Tony Gonzalez or Rob Gronkowski in the top 10? The Jets need a tight end, but they will forever need a play-maker and Howard is the play-maker on offense they need and he will immediately improve whichever quarterback the Jets run out on the field.
OPTION THREE AND A HALF: DRAFT A QUARTERBACK
Like the trade back delegation the draft a quarterback delegation makes an appearance every year with Jets fans and for good reason, the Jets always need a quarterback. But while I like Mitch Trubisky, Deshaun Watson, DeShone Kizer, Patrick Mahomes II and even Davis Webb, I just don’t love any of them enough to take at six. If the Jets do love one of them enough, then by all means take that guy but I don’t get the feeling that they do. The very obvious fact that I could be wrong is the only reason why I’m even mentioning this option.
I still think it’s more likely that the Jets will draft whichever one of these quarterbacks is still onboard in the second, or even trade back up into the end of the first. I don’t think Christian Hackenberg will prevent the Jets from taking a quarterback at six, I think not loving any of the options enough will prevent them from doing so. Take the best player at six and non of the quarterbacks will be the best player there, then I’d be happy settling for Kizer in the second. Kizer isn’t the safest of the bunch, but I still maintain he has the most upside. Draft one of the safeties or Howard at six, Kizer in the second and let Kizer develop and learn for a year or two and wait to see which quarterback the Jets draft next year. Also for the record there’s a really good chance I wouldn’t draft Kizer in the second, not because of Kizer but because there will be so many other good options but I’d be more comfortable taking Kizer in the second than Turbisky or Watson at six.