Prospects for Jets to Avoid in 2021 NFL Draft

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IApril 12, 2021

Prospects for Jets to Avoid in 2021 NFL Draft

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    JASON DECROW/Associated Press

    With one move, the New York Jets made it clear what they'll likely be doing with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft. That's because they're now without a starting quarterback after trading Sam Darnold to the Carolina Panthers last week.

    Now, it's essentially a lock that New York will be drafting its next franchise quarterback when it's on the clock for the first time on April 29. But the Jets have another first-round pick that night (No. 23 overall), as well as plenty of selections over the final six rounds, so it's not yet known what they'll do with the rest of their picks.

    After going 2-14 in 2020 and extending their playoff drought to 10 consecutive seasons, the Jets need to make the right decisions in the draft that will help them build a strong roster for the future. If New York has too many misses, it may be a while before it has a breakthrough year.

    Here's a look at several prospects who the Jets should avoid taking in the 2021 NFL draft.

Any QB Other Than BYU's Zach Wilson

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    Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

    While Clemson's Trevor Lawrence almost certainly won't be on the board when the Jets are on the clock at No. 2, they'll have their choice of any other quarterback in this year's class. And there are quite a few strong players in that group, including North Dakota State's Trey Lance, Ohio State's Justin Fields and Alabama's Mac Jones.

    But BYU's Zach Wilson is the clear choice for New York. And if it decides to take any other quarterback, it would be a mistake.

    Wilson had a tremendous pro day last month, showcasing the strong arm that led him to success during his three-year career at BYU. The Jets traded away Darnold (who they took with the No. 3 overall pick in 2018) to select a quarterback in this year's draft, and they need to make sure they get the right one. And that's Wilson.

    That's not to say the others in the top tier of quarterback prospects (Lance, Fields and Jones) won't go on to have successful careers and become strong NFL players. But the potential is much higher for Wilson, who has continued to boost his draft stock.

Jaelan Phillips, DE, Miami

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    Matt Gentry/Associated Press

    Phillips is one of the top pass-rushers in this year's draft class, and there's a strong chance he'll be taken in the mid-to-late first round. So when the Jets are on the clock for the No. 23 pick, they might consider taking the former Miami standout with that selection.

    However, that would be a mistake for New York. Not because Phillips isn't a talented prospect (because he is), but there are much larger needs that the Jets must address, particularly on offense. If they want to add a pass rusher in the draft, it'll likely be better to wait until a later round.

    Earlier this offseason, New York already boosted its defensive front by signing defensive end Carl Lawson during free agency. Plus, the Jets also added defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins. Their D-line is in solid shape at this point and may just need a late-round prospect added for depth.

    Instead, New York should address a bigger area of need (such as the offensive line or running back). So even if Phillips is still on the board at No. 23, the Jets should pass, or potentially even trade down a few spots if there's a team looking to land the former Hurricane.

Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida

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    John Raoux/Associated Press

    Like Phillips, Toney is a player who is likely to be drafted during the second half of the opening round. He's not going to get taken until the top tier of wide receivers (LSU's Ja'Marr Chase, Alabama's DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle) come off the board. Therefore, he may be available around New York's pick at No. 23.

    Or the Jets may even be enticed by the possibility of trading up a few spots to acquire Toney. The former Gator is an intriguing prospect, as he showcased his potential during his final college season.

    At the same time, Toney had some injury troubles during his time at Florida, which caused him to miss substantial amounts of time in 2017 and 2019. New York needs to add reliable players to its receiving corps, especially with a rookie quarterback likely to be at the helm.

    The Jets added notable wide receivers during free agency in Corey Davis and Keelan Cole Sr., and they have some solid depth at the position. Still, they likely should add a receiver at some point in the draft, as they could benefit from having a youngster in the group who can develop.

    It just shouldn't happen during the first round, and New York shouldn't try to go after Toney. Again, the Jets have bigger needs to address on the first and second days of the draft.