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: Will the Jets take more players on offense or defense in the first three rounds of the NFL Draft?
EA: After Jets GM Joe Douglas traded Sam Darnold to Carolina and acknowledged the Jets would likely be taking a signal-caller with the No. 2 overall selection, he said: "We have to surround our new quarterback with as much talent as possible." That has stuck with me as draft countdown approaches hyperdrive. In terms of the top four strongest position groups in the entire class, Pro Football Focus went quarterback, tackle, wide receiver and interior offensive line. After the Jets get their quarterback at No. 2, they will be in prime position early to build around him with four additional picks in the top 86 overall. I envision Douglas, whose first pick as GM of the Jets was Mekhi Becton, will continue to fortify that line early in the 2021 draft. Before free agency began, Douglas said that he and Head Coach Robert Saleh wanted explosive playmakers and I think that hunt will extend into Rounds 1-3. And while a cornerback or linebacker could be taken before Round 4, my guess is four of the Jets' first five picks are used on players on offense.
EG: It could go either way, but I'm leaning yes. We already know GM Joe Douglas said that it's a fair assessment the Jets will take a QB at No. 2 overall, which gives the offense a 1-0 lead. Douglas made more moves on the defensive side of the ball in free agency (added five on offense, six on defense) and I think this time the offense will receive a boost. In that same breath, it wouldn't surprise me if Douglas adds to the defense, but I think the split will be 3-2 either way, depending how the board shakes out. There are a lot of positions that still need to be addressed and I think Douglas will help support his rookie QB by adding as much as possible around him, whether that's a playmaker at RB-WR-TE or an offensive lineman. I don't think any of the free-agent signings preclude the Green & White from adding to that position. For example, even though the Jets added Corey Davis and Keelan Cole at WR, it wouldn't surprise me if they added another WR in the draft. Same at the edge with Carl Lawson and Vinny Curry. The Jets are in a position where they'll add the best player available. My gut says the offense will slightly edge the defense, but this is why we love the draft -- no one knows.
RL: Only slightly, by a 3-2 margin. On the one hand, history favors the first draft of the Joe Douglas/Robert Saleh team leaning to the defense. Saleh is a D-coach and the Jets need D-help. Since Bill Parcells in 1997, the Green & White have had only one predominantly offensive coach and that was Adam Gase. From 2002-18, a 17-draft span, the Jets made 46 selections in the first three rounds and 29 were defensive players — a hefty 63% of those prime picks. On the other hand, Douglas/Saleh figure to be drafting a key offensive player up top, and they know they have to surround that quarterback with O-talent. Did they do enough of that so far in free agency? Maybe, but more can and will be done. Of course, how they stack their board will have much to say about this, too, but with the above two competing forces in play, I'd say the Jets are likely to use three of their five picks on the first two days on one side of the ball, say, QB-D-O-D-O.