Jets Predicted to Bypass ‘Explosive’ Playmaker for Bench Player

JC Latham, Alabama

Getty Former Alabama offensive lineman JC Latham answering some questions at the 2024 NFL Combine.

The New York Jets don’t have any proven long-term answers at the offensive tackle position.

On Friday, April 19 Chad Reuter of NFL Media provided one in the form of Alabama OL JC Latham. He predicted the green and white would select him with the No. 10 overall pick in the first round.

“Yes, the Jets signed veteran left tackle Tyron Smith and traded for right tackle Morgan Moses this offseason. But both are 33 years old, coming off injuries, and only under contract through next season. Latham’s ability to get movement in the run game, and widen his base against edge rushers in pass pro, could make him the top lineman from this class three years down the line,” Reuter explained.

However, it came at a great cost. Reuter also predicted that the Jets would bypass top-flight LSU wide receiver Malik Nabers who was still available in his mock scenario at pick No. 10.

The former Tigers playmaker ended up going at pick No. 13 to the Las Vegas Raiders. Dane Brugler of The Athletic described Nabers as “an explosive play creator (led the FBS with 34 catches of 20-plus yards in 2023” in “The Beast.”

Likely Conflicting Emotions for Jets Fans on Draft Day

From 2007 through 2019 the Jets blatantly and ignorantly neglected the offensive line. Across those 13 NFL drafts, the green and white didn’t select a single offensive lineman in the first round.

Since Joe Douglas has taken over as general manager, the Jets have reinvested in the trenches. Two of his three first-round draft choices after taking over were offensive linemen.

There is a chance that number increases on Thursday, April 25. The only problem is that player wouldn’t have a clear path to playing time.

The Jets have all of its five starters on the offensive line already written in pencil. That means if Gang Green dipped its toes at that position, the player would likely start on the bench. If all the stars and moons along that player might not see the field much if at all in 2024.

A year ago the Jets took another player in the first round that didn’t see the field a ton. Defensive lineman Will McDonald ended up taking the fewest snaps of any Jets first-round pick since Vernon Gholston back in 2008.

While Douglas caught a lot of heat for that decision he doubled down on it when speaking with the media on Friday, April 19.

“I think it’s a positive thing if you have enough depth on your team so that a draft pick doesn’t have to come in and play right away,” Douglas explained. “I would say that just about anyone we draft it’s going to be a dog fight to break into the starting lineup.”

While Douglas may see it as a positive, some people have described it to me as arrogant. Do the Jets think their roster is so good that they don’t need an immediate contributor with its first-round draft choice?

On one hand, more protection for Aaron Rodgers is good for business. On the other hand, that offensive lineman feels like much more of a future play than a right-now play.

The Rest of the Jets’ Selections in the 7-Round Mock

In the third round, Reuter had the Jets finding their long-term safety in Georgia’s Tykee Smith.

Jumping over to the fourth round, Gang Green secured a pair of intriguing players. He had them taking Alabama wideout Jermaine Burton and Ohio State linebacker Tommy Eichenberg.

At pick No. 185 in the sixth round, the Jets secured its quarterback of the future in Jordan Travis out of Florida State.

Finally, in the seventh round, the Jets double-dipped with Washington tight end Devin Culp and Marshall cornerback Micah Abraham.

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