What do the Jets do if they can’t draft Trevor Lawrence?
For weeks it looked like the Jets would secure number 1 overall for Trevor Lawrence. The undisputed top perspective would wear green and white and usher in a new era of football in New York. He would also get a senior head coach to fix the franchise and build a better one for the downtrodden Jets tomorrow.
Those plans met with success on Sunday when the Jets shocked the world by defeating the Rams for their first win of the 2020 season. The win threw the Jets back to second place in the draft thanks to the strength of the schedule tiebreaker who favored the equally 1-13 Jaguars. If the current order is in place, the Jets are unlikely to have a shot at Lawrence with the QB-needy Jaguars in the way.
This would be quite a mystery to Joe Douglas as the ramifications would shape his career as general manager of jets. There are several ways that Douglas and the Jets can be down if Lawrence is not available. Each option has its advantages and disadvantages. But Douglas has a few questions to ask himself before making a decision.
(Remember, the jets are guaranteed to be a top three pick.)
The first and most obvious question: should Douglas design another quarterback?
Sam Darnold has another year on his rookie contract and the Jets front office may want to stay with him for at least another season if they don't like any of the other quarterbacks who are likely to be in the top 10. After Lawrence, Ohio State's Justin Fields and BYU's Zach Wilson are the only really viable options at the forefront of the draft. If Jets Scouts believe any of these players has a more promising future than Darnold, they must take him and move away from the incumbent.
Fields was no doubt great for the Buckeyes. He threw for more than 3,000 yards and scored 51 touchdowns - 41 passes and 10 rushing - with just three interceptions and finished third in the Heisman vote last year. Fields' performance in 2020 has been higher and lower, but he still has 20 touchdowns to just five interceptions and has won all six of his games so far.
Wilson is more of a wild card. He was sensational during his junior year at BYU - 30 touchdowns, eight touchdowns, and only three interceptions - and looks like a legitimate quarterback with his fundamentals. Wilson hasn't played many great teams this season, except for Boise State, which he set on fire for 360 yards and four total touchdowns.
If Fields or Wilson don't care about the Jets, that begs a second question: act or keep the choice?
A franchise longing for one of the non-Lawrence quarterbacks could trade in a bonus for the opportunity to use one of them. Or maybe they like another player at the head of the draft they couldn't pick, like Oregon v Penei Sewell or LSU receiver J'Marr Chase. Douglas may choose to take a nice package of assets if he owns the # 2 or 3, pull back and strengthen the rest of his team instead of sticking to his position. Just look at what the Rams and Browns got when they traded the No. 2 picks for the past decade.
But if Douglas decides to keep the choice and choose one of those blue chip prospects instead, who would it be if not one of the quarterbacks? That is the next big question. At the forefront of the draft are some solid, potentially franchise-changing players.
Sewell is considered to be one of the best prospects in recent times and would help Douglas build this protective wall for Darnold. He and Mekhi Becton on either side of the line would do wonders for the Jets offensive for the next four years. Before Dak Prescott was injured, see how well the cowboys played behind the best line in football and their fourth round quarterback.
Fast tracking is another option too. He would give the crime a marquee weapon next to Denzel Mims. One idea that goes outside the box would be to design a cornerback to strengthen the porous secondary side of the jets, someone like Caleb Farley of Virginia Tech or Patrick Surtain II of Alabama. Or Douglas could grab the Miami Edge rusher Gregory Rousseau to add some speed to the Jets Pass Rush. Rousseau only sacked Chase Young in 2019 before retiring from this season because of the pandemic.
Whatever the Jets do in the 2021 draft will have a ripple effect that will set a course for the remainder of Douglas' tenure as general manager. Drafting a quarterback or trading the pick signals the beginning of a major shift in the roster. Drafting an offensive lineman means Douglas is ready to give Darnold one more chance while laying a good foundation for the offense. If a defensive player is drafted, the Jets will try to find offensive answers in the free hand.
Right now there really isn't a wrong answer until the Jets complete their full scouting assessment of the top prospects, the trading bloc, and their current roster. Quarterback is the most obvious choice given Darnold's regression and the strength of this class compared to others, but every Lawrence prospect brings its own shortcomings and mounting pains.
The decisions that need to be made in the months ahead of the April draft are incredibly important to the future of the jets. The choice might not be so easy now if they aren't staring at the # 1 position.
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New York Jets
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