Throughout the offseason, NewYorkJets.com reporters Eric Allen, Ethan Greenberg and Randy Lange will each give their predictions to a series of questions regarding this year's Jets.
Today's question: How could the Jets' moves in free agency affect the team's plans in the NFL Draft?
EA: The Jets reportedly chased a cheetah this week, offering a package of draft picks to Kansas City for playmaker Tyreek Hill. While Hill chose his native Florida and the Dolphins instead of coming to New York/New Jersey, GM Joe Douglas & Co. sent a message about the team's willingness to explore every possible avenue to improve the team. Wanting to build the through the draft, Douglas remains ready to strike on multiple fronts with valuable draft capital and financial flexibility. Hill is a game-changing unicorn, though, so will Douglas now wait until the draft to add another receiver? And if so, could it be it at No. 4 or at No. 10? With the additions of C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Conklin in free agency, tight end no longer is a pressing need. The Jets also are in a much better place at safety after re-signing Lamarcus Joyner and bringing in thumper Jordan Whitehead. D.J. Reed is a big addition to a young, hungry CB group. The offensive line got better with Pro Bowler Laken Tomlinson and the Jets should have one of the better guard combinations in the league. If the Jets make selections with their first four picks (Nos. 4, 10, 35 and 38), they won't operate from desperation. Free agency has kept all options on the table, but wide receiver, edge rusher and cornerback may be in play early and we'll know soon enough whether the Green & White believe there are unicorns in this class.
EG: I don't think any of the free-agent moves preclude the Green & White from drafting at the same position(s), but I'd be surprised if the team selected a tight end in the first three rounds after double dipping by signing C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Conklin. For what it's worth, those guys were each fifth-round picks and I wouldn't be shocked to see GM Joe Douglas address the position on Day 3 of the draft, even though the team's depth has been significantly upgraded. But when you look at the other signings — like CB D.J. Reed, and safeties Jordan Whitehead and Lamarcus Joyner -- I wouldn't be surprised if the team added to the secondary especially in the first two days. Keep in mind, however, Douglas' earliest selection of a defensive player was S Ashtyn Davis in Round 3 in 2020. That, in my opinion, is likely to change in 2022. At OL with the addition of Laken Tomlinson, the Jets' guards are set. And the depth was bolstered with the re-signing of Dan Feeney, but Douglas will never shy away from adding talent to the OL whether that's at No. 4 overall or in undrafted free agency at any position up front. That brings us to the D-line. Jacob Martin was added, but Douglas could definitely add to the line with the depth of this pass-rush class. All options still remain on the table in the draft. I do think it's telling that the team was in the Tyreek-Hill-trade sweepstakes.
See the top photos of the newest additions to the Jets roster during their first day at 1 Jets Drive.
RL: Only the obvious here. It seems unlikely now that the Jets will dip into the good tight end group in the draft, not after signing C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Conklin. The two combined for 110 catches and 1,086 yards for their teams last season — the last time the Jets had close to those numbers in a returning group of TEs was in the Richard Caster/Jerome Barkum "era" in 1972-76, and that almost doesn't count since Barkum was listed as a WR, not a TE, until 1977. The other impact comes not from the Jets' FA moves but from Miami's trade for Tyreek Hill, coupled with Jared Allen teamed with Stefon Diggs in Buffalo and Mac Jones' followup to his strong rookie season as New England's QB. The Jets are thought to be in the edge rusher market and that hasn't changed. They brought in two excellent DBs in CB D.J. Reed and S Jordan Whitehead, and they have their young stable of CBs that is now a year older. But they may well consider a top corner in the draft to help them keep pace with the AFC East air attacks heading their way come the 2022 NFL season.