The NFL's 2023-24 season will reach its conclusion Sunday night following the Chiefs-49ers LVIII Super Bowl at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, NV. Exactly one month after the title game — March 11 – — the league's free agency negotiating period will begin and free agency will open two days later. But the NFL Draft, which will be held this spring in Detroit from April 25-27, has come into focus following college all-star games including the Senior Bowl.
The Jets have five selections in the 2024 NFL Draft headlined by the No. 10 overall pick in Round 1. And while the Jets' navigation in free agency will clear some things up, you wonder if it could be a seven-horse race at No. 10. If the Jets don't move off that spot, the consensus from pundits in Mobile was the Green & White could pick from 1 of 3 tackles, 1 of 3 wide receivers or 1 unicorn.
Year to Attack the OL
Notre Dame's Joe Alt (6-8, 322), Penn State's Olumuyiwa Fashanu (6-6, 317) and Taliese Fuaga (6-6, 334) headline the tackle class. Injuries forced the Jets to start 13 different offensive line combinations last season and Duane Brown, Mekhi Becton and Billy Turner have expiring contracts.
"If you need offensive line help, this is the year to attack it," said ESPN's Jordan Reid.
Alt appeared in 38 games for the Fighting Irish, making 33 starts. He helped Notre Dame last season average 39.1 points/game, which ranked No. 2 in school history, and 5.3 yards/rush.
"Alt is in his own class, and I think Fashanu is right there," said Connor Rogers of NBC Sports. "They are guys who justify being top 10 picks, but I don't think the gap from them down to Fuaga is as a big as Fuaga down to that next layer. Fuaga, he's a right tackle and you have to keep that in mind, and you could argue the Jets could take a guy who plays on either side with the state of their offensive line. Great run blocker, he's gotten better in pass pro over the years and nobody can rush through him, so that's why Fuaga is in Tier II. But I don't think the gap from Tier II to Tier I is insane."
Last season, Fashanu started 12 games at LT for the Nittany Lions and didn't allow a sack in 365 pass blocking snaps. Fuaga made a Mobile move last week, impressing all onlookers during Senior Bowl workouts.
"Big, physical right tackle, plays really good, anchors well against power, makes a lot of sense," said former Jets DL Leger Douzable, an analyst for CBS Sports. "We know the Jets are most likely trying to retool, maybe get a little bit younger on the offensive line. So he makes a lot of sense."
"I'm a big fan of Fuaga at offensive tackle from Oregon State," added PFF's Steve Palazzolo. "He was a guy I kind of identified before the season as a potential breakout candidate and I think everybody caught up to him being a potential first-round pick. I think he can play left or right tackle, excellent run blocker, I think he's good enough in pass protection."
Fantastic Trio at Wide Receiver
Depending on how GM Joe Douglas attacks the OL in free agency, he could emphasize the line again in Round 1 or perhaps add another young weapon for QB Aaron Rodgers.
"I would lean towards offensive tackle and I'm a big wide receiver guy," said ESPN's Matt Miller. "I think everybody who reads my work knows I love wide receivers. But if you look across the National Football League at the great left tackles, almost all of them were drafted in the first round. It's not really a developmental position, it's much harder to do that to get an elite level left tackle. You can find really good receivers outside of the first round. I think this year's depth speaks to that. I want to say I had 10 wide receivers in my top 50."
Ohio State's Marvin Harrison (6-4, 205), LSU's Malik Nabers (6-0, 200) and Washington's Rome Odunze (6-3, 215) all could be special on the next level.
"Marvin Harrison is in his own tier," Rogers said. "But when you look at Malik Nabors from LSU, you look at Rome Odunze from Washington — they're the Tier II receivers in this draft, they're going in the top 10 picks of the draft. So very unique offensive line and wide receiver talent in terms of the depth in this year's class."
The Jets have a pair of young offensive stars in RB Breece Hall and WR Garrett Wilson. Wilson played collegiately with Harrison and the latter set the Ohio State single-season record with eight 100-yard receiving games in 2023 and set a career mark with 15 100-yard receiving games. Odunze, a consensus first-team All-America, had 92 receptions last season and led the nation with a UW record 1,640 receiving yards. Nabers, whose 120.7 yards a game ranked first in the nation, led the FBS in plays of 20-plus yards (34) and 30-plus yards (17).
"I have an argument with myself every day about which one is better," Miller said. "They're all fantastic and I think then you get that dropoff to that next tier which again is a really big tier."
ESPN's Reid believes as many as 7-8 wideouts could be selected in the first round.
The Wild Card
The Jets don't have a glaring need at tight end. Tyler Conklin, in his second season with the club, tied a career high for receptions (61) while setting a new career high for receiving yards (621). He also tied his career high for yards per catch (10.2). The club remains high on the potential of second-year TE Jeremy Ruckert but Georgia product Brock Bowers (6-4, 240) is one of the most intriguing prospects in this '24 Class.
"It's almost unfair to call him a tight end because he's a hybrid," said the Athletic's Dane Brugler. "You can line him up in the slot, line him up out wide, line him up in the backfield, inline, whatever you want to do. So if you have an offensive coordinator who understands his strengths, understands how he wins and how special he can be — you don't hesitate to draft a Brock Bowers top 10. So he would be an interesting fit there."
Bowers led Georgia last season with 56 catches for 714 yards and 6 receiving TDs.
"All the top tackles, all the top receivers are in the mix," Palazzolo said. "And then every team has to figure out what Brock Bowers is. And if you're thinking about how we're going to maximize Aaron Rodgers here if it's going to be a receiver, a tight end or a tackle, Bowers has to be in the mix and teams have to figure out is he worth a top 10 pick as a tight end because he's just an awesome playmaker."
An awesome decision awaits as there are several elite talents at the top of the draft. The Jets will have a great opportunity to get better in front of or around a four-time NFL MVP who insists he will rise again.