On Sunday the New York Jets will welcome the Jacksonville Jaguars into MetLife Stadium for a Week 16 matchup.
Although this weekend’s game means far more than who will end up celebrating in the locker room after the contest. A more accurate depiction may come from the homes of the respective fans of these two teams who end up losing.
There are zero playoff implications in a game featuring a 2-10 Jags and 3-11 Jets team, but there are massive draft implications.
Four teams have a legitimate path to the No. 1 pick in the 2022 NFL draft with three games to go (via The Athletic):
- Jaguars (67 percent chance)
- Detroit Lions (18 percent chance)
- Jets (7.9 percent chance)
- Houston Texans (7.1 percent chance)
If the Jets beat the Jaguars that will firmly take Gang Green out of the running and will put Jacksonville in the best position to finish the job.
However, if Jacksonville is able to beat the Jets, the entire path of possibilities opens up ahead of a pivotal draft class.
The top prize? A game-changing pass rusher.
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A Very Different Conversation This Year
Last year’s 2021 NFL draft was the year of the quarterback. Five of them ended up going in the first round and all of them were highly touted coming out of their respective colleges.
Not anywhere near the same juice. Any one of last year’s first-round quarterbacks would have a legitimate shot of going first overall in 2022.
Although this offseason no top quarterback is in the running for the first pick, instead, a pair of pass rushers are tantalizing NFL teams.
Kayvon Thibodeaux of Oregon and Aidan Hutchinson of Michigan are both considered No. 1 pick-worthy prospects.
A Juicy Steak on the Grill
The Jets have a lot of needs, all you have to do is take one long look at their record to date (3-11), but a dynamic pass rusher could change the entire look of their defense.
Connor Hughes of The Athletic said if the Jets land a top-two pick, there is “no doubt” they’ll take one of those pass rushers.
He then went a step further saying head coach Robert Saleh wouldn’t pass up the chance “to add a Nick Bosa-type player” to his front-seven.
Saleh is intimately familiar with how a Bosa-type player can impact a defense, they spent two seasons together with the San Francisco 49ers.
The 24-year-old pass rusher is in the midst of his third season and he has racked up over 24 sacks in just 33 games.
The Jets haven’t had that kind of player on their defense since the days of John Abraham in the early 2000s.
The Jets would be blessed to land either one of these players. With a win on Sunday, they’d likely be out of the running. Although a loss could nearly guarantee the chance to draft one of these two studs.
After Sunday’s game, we’ll have a much clearer picture of whether that’ll be a distant memory or a legitimate reality.