Jets 2021 Draft Pick Could Be Dangled as ‘Trade Bait,’ Says Analyst

Brandin Echols

Getty New York Jets cornerback Brandin Echols on November 4, 2021.

About a week from today on July 19, the New York Jets 2022 class of rookies will report to training camp to get acclimated. Two weeks from tomorrow on the 26th, the full roster is in the building.

That’s right, you can almost taste it. Football is on the horizon but in the meantime, our expert writers Paul ‘Boy Green’ Esden Jr and Michael Obermuller are back with our 50th edition of the Heavy on Jets mailbag column.

Today we’ll discuss the strongest and weakest positional groups, the theory behind cutting a recent draft pick, and some topical news on Sam Darnold and Zach Wilson. Here’s a look back at our most recent mailbags:

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Best & Worst Positional Groups

1. You can only choose one position group, where are the Jets the strongest heading into training camp?

Boy Green:

This one may seem strange, but I’m going with our group of guards.

The top is outstanding with Alija Vera-Tucker and Laken Tomlinson who both have All-Pro potential. Then, if you dig deeper on the roster the next line of defense is super solid headlined by Nate Herbig, who was acquired off of waivers from the Philadelphia Eagles.

I know people make fun of Dan Feeney because of the mullet and craziness, but he’s another reliable and versatile backup on the inside. This is a group that could be a foundation for the Jets’ success in 2022 and beyond.

Obermuller:

That’s a sneaky good answer by my partner and not what I would have expected. There are a few places you could go with this — running back, cornerback, edge rusher. To me, none are as flat-out impressive top to bottom as the tight end room.

I said it during a recent article on Kenny Yeboah but I feel like we’ve entered a bizarro world in 2022. The Jets’ tight ends aren’t just good, they’re the talk of the team and sometimes, the talk of the NFL community.

C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Conklin would start on any roster outside of ones headlined by Travis Kelce, George Kittle, or some top-five TE. Jeremy Ruckert may need one year to get himself settled but after that, he’s expected to become an impact starter.

Then, you have Yeboah, Lawrence Cager and Trevon Wesco battling it out for a fourth-team role that can also assist on special teams — WOW! By the way, all three of these reserves have had tremendous springs by most accounts, and this should be one heck of a fight in camp.

2. Same question, but instead, tell me what position group the Jets are the weakest at in July.

BG:

This one I’ll admit is overdramatic but offensive tackle. They’re great at the starter level with Mekhi Becton and George Fant but I’m so concerned with the depth that it scares me.

Neither Becton nor Fant have ever started a full season and our next-man-up is Conor McDermott, Chuma Edoga, or rookie Max Mitchell. It is paramount for Gang Green to add someone to this group as soon as possible.

Even if Becton and Fant are healthy all year, which is obviously what everyone is praying for, I would sleep a lot better — and so would Wilson for that matter — knowing there is a capable veteran on the bench that is ready to step in.

MO:

It’s the linebackers, and the weak-side (WILL) linebacker role if you want to get ultra-specific. After the Jarrad Davis plan crashed and burned in 2021, C.J. Mosley quickly regained his role as the middle (MIKE) linebacker with Quincy Williams winning the second full-time starter job at the strong-side (SAM) position.

After those two, things got real dicey real quick. Most times, head coach Robert Saleh didn’t even use his third linebacker with nickelback Michael Carter II getting starter snaps.

In 2022, the candidates are currently newcomer Marcell Harris, struggling youngster Hamsah Nasirildeen, and the relatively unknown Javin White. It doesn’t help that backup middle linebacker Jamien Sherwood is working his way back from a torn Achilles and Mosley is only getting older. This unit is a mess.

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Juicy Gossip in July

3. Is there any scenario where you see a recent draft pick (2021 or 2022 only) not making the 53-man roster? Be specific if you have a player in mind.

BG:

Absolutely not in 2022, especially considering all of their players were selected inside the top four rounds. However, 2021 could be a very different story.

I think there are four candidates to keep in mind: Jonathan Marshall, Jason Pinnock, Nasirildeen, and Sherwood. Due to the lack of depth at linebacker and defensive tackle, three of the four may be safe but you can never say that with certainty.

Pinnock could start and it seems like the staff really likes him, but someone is going to have to lose that battle at the safety spot and he could very well be in danger of losing his job.

MO:

Any talk of a 2022 draft pick not making the roster is ludicrous, they’re all locks. Having said that, I’ll agree with Boy Green that last year’s picks may not be. Where I disagree is which players are “on the block.”

Pinnock is safe — I’m confident in saying that. He’s been killing it all spring and the Jets would sooner cut a one-year veteran like Lamarcus Joyner before they lose a potential building block in Pinnock. Sherwood is also safe — although he could start the year on the injured reserve if he’s not ready in time.

The other two aren’t and I’ll throw a third name into the mix, cornerback Brandin Echols. I believe Marshall and Nasirildeen are actually fighting for their lives after the front office brought in veterans around them, while Echols could be used as trade bait in a scenario that makes sense. He’s currently the fifth CB in a stacked unit — behind D.J. Reed Jr., Sauce Gardner, Bryce Hall and Carter — and Javelin Guidry has already proven that he can play the CB5 role for the Jets.

4. Does any part of you feel sorry for Sam Darnold after the Baker Mayfield trade? Or are you happy that Joe Douglas once again looks like a genius?

BG:

This is one of those double-edged swords if I’m being honest. Of course, I celebrated like everyone else that Douglas struck again and we look like geniuses for pulling the plug at just the right time.

The Carolina Panthers thought there was still something there and Douglas maximized the value on a return and perfectly transitioned into his own choice at quarterback. Wilson is obviously very much still to be determined, however, the decision to move on from Darnold was the right one.

I’ve always thought that Darnold is a nice guy and handled himself well — outside of that mono thing — but I digress. I feel bad because I wanted him to be a raving success but it hasn’t happened yet and at this point, I’d venture to say it never will.

MO:

I’ll be blunt — I feel for Darnold as a person but I don’t feel for him as a player because he’s had plenty of opportunities to get it done and he hasn’t. Going one step further, I definitely don’t feel bad for all the Darnold-truther Jets fans that have badgered Wilson since day one.

If you’re a fan of this team, you should be rooting for your quarterback to succeed — no ifs, ands, or buts. I was not a fan of the Darnold pick and I have the texts to prove it. Having said that, I always supported him while he wore the jersey.

That’s what you do as a fan. In terms of the future in Carolina, I think Mayfield beats out Darnold and I don’t think it’ll even be that close.

5. Gossip of the Week: Some rumors emerged regarding Zach Wilson’s love life this week and one fact is clear — his former high school sweetheart is now dating his former BYU roommate and close friend/teammate, Washington Commanders WR Dax Milne. Having said all that, do you worry that any of this off-the-field drama may affect the youngster’s focus/development, and would you prefer single Zach or relationship Zach as your starting quarterback?

BG:

This may be the greatest question ever asked in the history of this mailbag segment.

Well, obviously Wilson did not want this story to get out. The folks over at Barstool Sports have a screenshot of the young passer sliding into their DMs asking them to take it down and what it would take to do it. Maybe he was doing that to avoid any off-the-field drama or maybe he was embarrassed by the story.

However, if you’re in New York long enough, outside of being Derek Jeter, these stories are going to pop up. You’re the starting quarterback for an NFL franchise and the spotlight is always on you. To be honest, I prefer single Zach to answer the question, he can flirt around and do whatever he wants in his free time but his ultimate commitment is to the game and his teammates. Well, all of them except Milne, apparently.

MO:

Wilson has always seemed committed to the game more than most and if anything, this Abbey Gile drama might just push him further into football. So no, I’m not too worried about it as long as he doesn’t get mono during the season.

In terms of single or taken Zach, the answer is easily single Zach. I say this as someone happily in a relationship but if you don’t have the right partner, it can be like a parasite and for most superstar athletes, it’s better to just be single up until you retire.

Sure, you could throw Tom Brady, Drew Brees or Patrick Mahomes at me as rebuttals and there are plenty of quarterbacks that have loving wives that support them but I have one answer for all of those responses — Aaron Rodgers.

The Green Bay Packers quarterback and FOUR-time MVP is one of the greatest to ever sling the rock and he’s been giving Wilson a few pointers. One was probably to cut off ties with crazy exes and focus on being the best QB you can be — as the single Rodgers has always done. You want that edginess in your leader and now Wilson has it.

Football first, that’s what you want from the future of your franchise and so long as he’s happy — which he appears to be — just win baby.

Follow @obermuller_nyj and @BoyGreen25 on Twitter for all the latest New York Jets breaking news, rumors, fresh takes and more!


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