With a week remaining until the NFL Draft kicks off in the Music City, the Jets could move south in the draft order and opt to acquire more draft assets. They could keep their spot and most likely address the defense with an edge performer or an interior beast. But one scenario out of the question for the Jets is a move-up to obtain one of the top two overall picks.
“I think the Jets realize (No.) 3 in this draft, you can get a defensive centerpiece for a decade,” said NFL Network reporter Kim Jones. “They know that and other teams know it too. I think it’s going to take a lot for the Jets to trade out of that pick. They’re really encouraged and excited about bringing in a star, a guy that can dominate guys whether it’s the edge guy or up the middle guy and there are people in this draft who can do everything to be honest with you.”
Most draft pundits believe Ohio State’s Nick Bosa and Kentucky’s Josh Allen are the top edge performers in this class and Maccagnan has talked about adding talent on the outside. But Quinnen Williams was a dominant force at Alabama last season and he could be the top overall player on some teams’ draft boards.
“The Jets are in an excellent spot in a sense that the board can kind of fall to them even in a scenario where two defensive players go 1-2,” said ESPN’s Field Yates. “If the Jets stay at pick 3, I think you look at this class and it’s pretty easy to say there are a minimum of three defensive difference makers and probably more likely a handful of them, four or five or six players.”
The Arizona Cardinals and the San Francisco 49ers hold the top two selections in the draft. Kyler Murray, the two-sport start at Oklahoma who turned down the Oakland Athletics for an opportunity to play quarterback in the NFL, has been linked to the Cardinals and their new head coach, Kliff Kingsbury, for months. If Murrary goes No. 1, the 49ers would figure to take Bosa or Williams or move down themselves.
While many have suggested the Jets should trade down in the first round in order to acquire assets, there is risk on passing on a potential blue-chipper.
“I keep hearing stories of them moving down. I don’t like that,” said Pat Kirwan, co-host of Sirius XM’s Movin’ the Chains. “I think you’re going to get a terrific defensive player up top whether it’s Allen or Bosa or Williams. One of those three guys could be a Jet. It’s very hard to find elite players. I’ve been watching all these guys getting ready for the draft. To me, they’re the three elite players and you’re guaranteed one of them.”
A trade would provide the Jets more quantity, but it has to be a calculated gamble. If you move back, you need to cast a wider net in terms of potential targets.
“The thing about trading out,” said NFL Network’s Bucky Brooks, “is you have to be convince that there are a clump of players that we don’t mind if we get any one of these three or four players that are still going to be good enough and give us the benefit that we would want if we stayed at 3.”
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Many Jets fans continue to root for a Murray-Cardinals marriage. But NBC Sports’ Peter King, who wrote Monday why Murray may not be a lock, actually thinks the Green & White might be best served if all quarterbacks remain on the board when the Jets go on the clock. The consensus is Murray and Ohio State rifleman Dwayne Haskins will be the top passers selected Thursday evening.
“The best-case scenario would be for Bosa to go one and Quinnen Williams to go two and for both quarterbacks to be there, so that now there is a race to get to No. 3,” King said. “I think the Jets still need volume. If I were them, I’d definitely want to trade down from that pick.”
Both Bosa and Allen succeeded at getting the quarterback down on the collegiate level. Bosa had 17.5 sacks and 29 tackles for loss in just 30 games for the Buckeyes while Allen had a school-record 31.5 sacks and 41 stops for loss in 51 contests for the Wildcats. But the 6’4”, 295-pound Williams was an absolute menace last season for Alabama, using great feet and violent hands to register eight sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss from an interior position.
“I think if you have Quinnen Williams and you put him alongside Leonard Williams, you still can get after the passer,” Brooks said. “I think the main thing is they need to find someone who is disruptive on the front seven, someone who can change the game when it comes to pass rushing. So any of those three guys — Josh Allen, Quinnen Williams or Nick Bosa — would fit. Any of those guys would upgrade the defense and they would fit with the culture of the defense and what Gregg Williams wants to do.”