They have the money and most importantly the draft assets to be in the driver’s seat.
With four picks in the top 39 currently, thanks to the Carolina Panthers and the Seattle Seahawks respectively, they’ll have a chance to accelerate the rebuild. Although nothing is more important than hitting a home run in the first round.
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Another Big Man to Protect the Franchise
Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report wrote a column and broke down every NFL team’s top draft target in December.
Surprisingly for the Jets, they were linked to Alabama Football offensive lineman Evan Neal:
“This may seem like an unconventional choice.
However, Neal has experience starting at both tackle spots, and he shined on the right side in 2020.
“Neal is a massive right tackle, yet he has surprisingly nimble feet and quickness. He varies his pass sets, occasionally jumping/attacking edge-rushers and eliminating their runway,” NFL Media draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah wrote in June.
Pairing Neal with Becton would give New York arguably the best young tackle duo in football. That would be a huge development as the Jets look to continue developing up-and-down rookie quarterback Zach Wilson for the long haul.”
Becton is the team’s left tackle, but he has battled a variety of injury issues since entering the league back in 2020. By drafting Neal, they would protect themselves with the ultimate insurance policy.
If Becton stays healthy, then they have a dynamic offensive tackle duo for the next decade. If Becton continues to have durability issues, then Neal can step in at left or right tackle, or heck even kick inside.
Becton is only 22 years old and Neal is only 21 years old. On top of their youth, they both possess incredible size as well standing in at 6-foot-7, 351 pounds, and 6-foot-7, 370 pounds respectively.
The talent and potential are overwhelming and could be too good to pass up for general manager Joe Douglas who is a former hog molly himself.
Ultimate Insurance Policy
If the Jets want to end the first-round offensive lineman streak in 2022, they control their own destiny.
George Fant started the season as the opening day starting right tackle, but an unfortunate injury to Becton forced him to slide over to left tackle. While he has performed admirably, Becton is still considered the franchise left tackle on this team.
So heading into 2022 they could simply flip Fant back to right tackle and be fine. Fant’s cap hit in 2022 is $10.6 million and the Jets could save over $9 million of that deal by moving on. Although with how well he has played in Becton’s absence, it would behoove them to keep him on the roster.
They also have the option of whether or not to bring back veteran Morgan Moses who was signed late in the offseason.
He has been a wonderful insurance policy and could be brought back ahead of free agency.
If the Jets do that, then they’ll have maximum flexibility in the 2022 NFL draft. They won’t have to do anything, they can simply take the best player available, whoever that ends up being.
That could open up the doors for the Jets to take a number of positions instead of an offensive lineman including wide receiver, EDGE rusher, off-ball linebacker, cornerback, or safety.