May 27, 2024
Jets 2024 NFL Draft Preview: Biggest needs, potential prospects and first round prediction

Jets 2024 NFL Draft Preview: Biggest needs, potential prospects and first round prediction

After months of speculation, the 2024 NFL Draft is almost here.

On Thursday night, the dreams of many aspiring prospects will come true as they step into the spotlight as the first round gets underway at 8 p.m. ET. A total of  257 players will be selected during the three-day event in Detroit.

After what they accomplished in free agency, the Jets, who are selecting 10th overall, are in an excellent position. This offseason, Gang Green acquired three offensive linemen (Tyron Smith, Morgan Moses and John Simpson) and signed wide receiver Mike Williams to a one-year contract worth up to $15 million.

“I think the moves we’ve made have given us the flexibility [we] like,” Jets general manager Joe Douglas said last week. “But again, we’re going to be sitting there, and if four quarterbacks go, we’re going to have some decisions to make at 10.

“We’re going to be prepared if our phone is ringing. I think, really, it’s a great opportunity to take the best player available, like it is every year.”

Although Douglas feels like the Jets have flexibility, they need to address team depth at a few positions. Let’s preview the Jets’ needs and look at the players they could draft.

Team needs: OT, WR, QB, RB, S, CB

Players acquired this offseason: QB Tyrod Taylor, OG John Simpson, WR Mike Williams, DT Javon Kinlaw, OT Tyron Smith, OT Morgan Moses

Departed players: EDGE Bryce Huff, S Jordan Whitehead, DT Quinton Jefferson

The Jets have to feel better about their offensive line that will be tasked with protecting 40-year-old QB Aaron Rodgers. A season ago, the Jets used 14 offensive line combinations in 17 games. That played a significant role in the Jets finishing 31st in yards and 29th in points per game.

The team’s work on the offensive line isn’t done. They still have significant questions.

Smith hasn’t played an entire season since 2015 and has missed 17 games in the last two years. Moses had offseason surgery on a torn pectoral muscle he suffered during last season. Also, Alijah Vera-Tucker has sustained season-ending injuries (triceps tendon and Achilles tear) each of the previous two seasons.

Because of those factors, the Jets must consider drafting an offensive lineman at No. 10. With Rodgers returning from a significant injury, the Jets need to be proactive and find a way to protect the four-time NFL MVP. If the Jets are to go the offensive line route, there are several directions they could go.

Washington’s Troy Fautanu is arguably this year’s most versatile offensive lineman in the draft. Fautanu has the potential to play either tackle or guard at the next level.

Some draft analysts believe Fautanu, at 6-3, 317 pounds, is not tall enough to play tackle in the NFL. But he was a dominant player for the Huskies.

Fautanu has swift hands and consistently initiates first contact. If the Jets are looking for a player who can play four of five offensive line positions, Fautanu is likely their guy.

Other potential offensive lineman targets include Penn State tackle Olu Fashanu, Oregon State tackle Taliese Fuaga, and Alabama tackle JC Latham.

WILL JETS BE TEMPTED TO PICK WR OVER OL

There are some who feel like the Jets are set on the offensive line with the addition of Smith, Moses, and Simpson.

However, Gang Green will need to weigh the decision to draft an offensive lineman or add an offensive weapon for Rodgers. At No. 10, the Jets will have an abundance of wide receivers and possibly a generational tight end to choose from.

Ohio State’s Marvin Harrison Jr. and LSU’s Malik Nabers are expected to be off the board when the Jets pick. That could leave them with a decision between Washington wide receiver Rome Odunze or Georgia tight end Brock Bowers.

In any other draft, Odunze would be the top wide receiver available. But the 2024 class of receivers is the most talented in over a decade.

Many analysts have compared Odunze to former Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald or current Raiders receiver Davante Adams because of his exceptional route-running skills. Odunze also has speed, size and athleticism, all the attributes scouts and general managers want in a receiver.

Last season for the Huskies, Odunze finished with 92 receptions for 1,640 yards and 13 touchdowns. Other wide receivers the Jets could target include LSU’s Brian Thomas Jr. or Texas’ Adonai Mitchell.

Bowers is the betting favorite to be selected by the Jets. With Tyler Conklin and Jeremy Ruckert already on the roster, they don’t necessarily need a tight end. But Bowers isn’t an ordinary tight end, he is an offensive weapon if the right team can unlock his potential.

When he first stepped on the field at Georgia, Bowers was one of the best players on the team. In three seasons, he registered 175 catches for 2,538 yards and 26 touchdowns.

Opposing defenses in the SEC had fits stopping Bowers. Not only can he make contested catches over the middle, but Bowers has elite quickness and explosion to evade defenders.

DRAFT PREDICTION

The Jets have wanted to appease Rodgers by any means since he arrived. I don’t see that changing during the 2024 NFL Draft.

Because of that, the Jets will likely select an offensive skill position player. There is a good chance Odunze might not make it to No. 10. If that is the case, Bowers will likely be the selection.

A great tight end can unlock an entire offense. Tight end Sam LaPorta made an immediate impact for the Lions after being selected in the second round of last year’s draft.

LaPorta registered 86 receptions for 889 yards and 10 touchdowns and helped the Lions reach the NFC Championship before losing to the 49ers. Bowers could provide a similar effect for the Jets in 2024.

Gang Green needs someone to help take pressure off Garrett Wilson, who has been the team’s leading receiver for the last two seasons. If Bowers is available at No. 10, it is hard to imagine the Jets passing on him.

The Jets are in win now mode in 2024. Anything that can help them reach the playoffs for the first time since 2010 and contend for a Super Bowl, they’re going to do it. That includes taking the best available player in this year’s draft.

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