The Jets haven’t addressed the defensive side of the ball in the NFL draft yet. But let’s keep it a bean, it doesn’t really matter. The Jets are in a rebuild and their attention is focused on providing their rookie quarterback with offensive help.
And Gang Green is doing that.
The Jets snagged their franchise quarterback in Zach Wilson with the No. 2 overall pick Thursday night. This regime is contingent on the development of Wilson and everything must be geared towards making his life easier.
Gang Green’s second and third picks achieved that with instant offensive impact players.
The Jets showed they learned how to not support a young quarterback from their time with Sam Darnold.
GM Joe Douglas is trying to create an explosive offense, something that the Jets haven’t had in years.
“This league is about creating explosive plays and then stopping explosive plays,” Douglas said. “We feel good about the players that we added that can help create explosive plays and we’re going to keep adding that.”
The club added critical offensive line help in USC tackle Alijah Vera-Tucker with the No.14 pick. According to Pro Football Focus, Vera-Tucker’s career pass-blocking grade is 91.6, which is second-highest among offensive linemen in the 2021 draft class. He is an athletic lineman and is a great fit for the wide zone scheme that the Jets will be running in Mike LeFleur’s offense.
Then Gang Green got one of the best receivers in the draft in Elijah Moore out of Ole Miss. Moore possesses filthy route running and big play ability. Head coach Robert Saleh has a strong conviction on his new receiver.
“When he’s on the field, you just got to be able to expect everything,” Saleh said. “He can be in the backfield and get those jets sweeps, he can win one on ones out of the slot, he can play the X, take the top off the coverage. He’s dynamic in the sense that you can do a lot of different things with him.”
Moore was a beast in 2020, he had 86 catches for 1,193 yards with eight touchdowns in eight games. There were moments where he was toying with his opponents and flashed pure domination with multiple 200-plus yard games in the SEC.
Against Florida, Moore caught 10 passes for 227 yards. He had 238 yards with three touchdowns against Vanderbilt. Against South Carolina, he had 225 yards and two scores.
The Jets could have traded back and accumulated extra picks, but Moore was too big to pass up.
Moore is a dog and will be able to provide an instant return this season.
Could the Jets have addressed defense? Sure, but the club saw immense value in Moore and couldn’t pass it up.
“He (Moore) was a player that we were all crossing our fingers and hoping that he could somehow be positioned for us to draft him and just happen to come to fruition,” Douglas said. “Excited about him, his playmaking ability again. Another player that fits the mold of great character, great player, versatile, smart, tough, so can’t wait to add into the mix.”
The question about when the Jets will address the defense are valid, but when you have a rookie quarterback the best bet for his long-term development is to add offensive talent around him. Douglas knows that.
“I really feel like we’re sitting here with a unique opportunity to add three players that are really top 25 players on our board,” Douglas said. “And all three first round caliber players can be impact players for us.”
The Jets can’t fill all of their needs in the draft, but on offensive they’ve done a good job. Wilson has a receiving core featuring Corey Davis, Denzel Mims, Jamison Crowder and Moore. The left side of the offensive line has mammoth left tackle Mekhi Becton and left guard Vera-Tucker. That’s an improvement.
The Jets still have two fourth rounders (No. 107 and No. 143), two fifth rounders (No. 146 and No. 154) and two sixth rounders (No. 186 and No. 226). Will Douglas add defensive players? Of course.
“We haven’t taken a defensive player yet,” Douglas said. “But we’re sitting here tomorrow with six picks, and there’s gonna be a lot of opportunity there to add to this team.”
After going 2-14 these moves propel the Jets in the right direction. The focus thus far has been on surrounding their young quarterback with help. That gives Wilson the best chance to succeed. Defensive help will come.