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DRAFTNERDS: 2024 New York Jets Mock Draft

It's mock draft season! @TheSmingDynasty is up next in our #DraftNerds series with a full 7 round New York Jets mock draft. #TakeFlight

Dynasty fantasy football is a year-round affair. A sharp manager will be thinking about all aspects of the dynasty season. Those managers keen enough to look ahead will be the ones who can grab themselves an edge over the competition. Most of the dynasty off-season will be spent discussing incoming rookies and the related topic, the NFL draft. It is easy for us to fall in love with the next workhorse running back or prototypical alpha wide receiver, but a manager in tune with the entire draft class will find themselves ahead of the game. Whether it is the next road-paving interior offensive lineman or genetic freak edge rusher, we can find ourselves at quite the advantage come April by building an entire picture of how the 2024 class will play out. Those who prepare ahead will not be often surprised at the outcomes.

Credit for the mock draft simulation goes to ProFootballFocus. Team needs are also generated from this site.

2023 Season Recap

WRITER TO EDITOR – Can I just post a photo of Aaron Rodgers sitting on the MetLife turf after tearing his Achilles and call it a day for this section? I’m a Jets fan, and it still hurts.

Okay, fine. I’ll do my best to be positive. Here goes!

They… had a really good defense? No? I can’t just stop there, either? Sigh.

The Jets lost their starting quarterback and their entire season four snaps into their first game. Zach Wilson started the rest of the season… until he didn’t. Welcome to the party, Tim Boyle and Trevor Siemian! Injuries decimated their offensive line. Michael Carter was cut midseason. Dalvin Cook received millions and added nothing on the field. Corey Davis (remember him?) unexpectedly retired during training camp. Notable free agent signing Allen Lazard was a healthy scratch by the end of the season. After Garrett Wilson and the ghost of Lazard, the wide receiver with the next-closest amount of receptions was an undrafted rookie free agent named Xavier Gipson. He played in all 17 games and caught 21 passes.

Despite this, the owner is bringing back the general manager, head coach, and offensive coordinator. They’re also bringing back the offensive line coach, who numerous players have publically thrown under the bus.

So anyway, yeah, that’s the 2023 New York Jets. Can I move on now?

Oh, and they were on Hard Knocks, and at least that was awesome to watch. Also, hooray for Breece Hall, who deserved to win NFL Comeback Player of the Year despite not being a nominee.

2024 Free Agent Departures – Offense

Rodgers is the only quarterback currently on the Jets roster who will return. It is safe to say that the triumvirate of Zach Wilson, Trevor Siemian, and Brett Rypien will follow Tim Boyle on his way out the door at Florham Park.

Randall Cobb had one of the worst statistical seasons in NFL history at wide receiver. Unless Rodgers wills it, he and the Cobb Mob will not return. Tight end C.J. Uzomah will also be a cap casualty after a disappointing two seasons with the team.

On the offensive line, Duane Brown’s career is winding down. He almost certainly will not be brought back despite the Jets’ clear need at the position. It’s a similar story for Billy “Turnstyle” Turner, who does not have what it takes to be a professional caliber offensive lineman. Long-time Center Connor McGovern is on the roster bubble after the emergence of rookie Joe Tippmann. McGovern will only be brought back if he’s healthy and is interested in backing up Tippman.

2024 Free Agent Departures – Defense

Carl Lawson’s career with the Jets ended when he was injured in training camp months after getting his big free-agent contract. A healthy scratch down the stretch, he will almost certainly find a new home in 2024. Al Woods played well for the team before his season-ending injury, so the team may bring him back if it makes sense.

The only other notable players to discuss on defense are the Bryces — Bryce Huff and Bryce Hall, neither of which should be confused with Breece Hall. Confusing, right?

Before Sauce and DJ Reed, Bryce Hall was Jets CB1 and played decently well. When both starters were hurt last season, Hall became a starter again and proved himself a decent NFL talent. The Jets would likely love to have him back, but he will test the market and find a starting job.

That leaves one of the biggest question marks on the Jets – Huff, the breakout pass-rushing extraordinaire. What will the Jets do with Huff? Extend him? Tag and trade to try and get a second-round pick back? Let him walk and hope he is a future compensatory pick? Only time will tell what happens with Huff.

2024 Jets Mock Draft

1.10 – Tailese Fuaga (OT – Oregon State)

The Jets need offensive linemen like plants need sunlight. The Jets’ number one need is keeping Aaron Rodgers upright and healthy, and that begins and ends with upgrading their offensive line. Joe Douglas is rumored to be in love with Fuaga, the tackle out of Oregon State. He earned rave reviews at the recent Senior Bowl, notably where the Jets’ defensive coordinator, Jeff Ulbrich, spent the week as a head coach.

Fuaga is a mammoth of a man, standing 6’6″ and weighing 334 lbs. He spent his first year as a full-time starter at right tackle in 2022, and just one season later, he was named to the first-team All-PAC-12 team. If the Jets attack their need at left tackle through free agency, then Fuaga can slide into an immediate role at right tackle.

However, one of the biggest questions with the pick is whether the Jets will stay here or attempt to trade back. This draft has many high-level tackle prospects, and the Jets traded their second-round pick in the Rodgers deal. Do they try to trade back, aim for another tackle like JC Latham or Amarius Mims, and recoup a second-round pick?

3.72 – Jalen McMillan (WR – Washington)

The Jets need wide receivers like plants need sunlight. I used that one already, didn’t I? How about a fish that needs water? Whatever the analogy, the point remains. It is no secret as to what the Jets need to do in this draft. Outside of a big free agent coup or other similar surprise via pre-draft trade, the Jets will have to use this pick on a wide receiver after going offensive line with their first pick. They cannot roll into the season with the same barren depth chart as 2023.

In a class loaded with wide receiver talent, there’s a chance that McMillan drops to the Jets at the top of the third round. Rodgers will fall in love with this kid’s talent. He is a supremely fast field stretcher, something the Jets’ roster currently lacks. McMillan is a playmaker with the ball in his hands. He has played outside and in the slot to give Robert Saleh and Nathaniel Hackett some much-needed versatility on offense.

4.111 – Zak Zinter (G – Michigan)

Zinter came back for his senior season, and what a season it was! Despite getting injured late in the season, Zinter’s Michigan Wolverines went on to win the National Championship.

Douglas has a penchant for drafting players like Zinter. Another mountain on the offensive line, Zinter is beloved by his teammates and was a clear leader on a stacked Michigan team. The Jets desperately need talent on their offensive line, and if Zinter can return healthy, he will be plugged into the Jets’ starting line from day one. Aaron Rodgers would be elated if the Jets draft started with two offensive linemen and a wide receiver!

5.147 – James Williams (S – Miami)

Safety is an underreported need for the Jets going into 2024. Tony Adams played well, and Ashtyn Davis finally showed competent play, but the Jets will likely not bring back Jordan Whitehead. Chuck Clark may be brought back, but seemingly, like so many players on this cursed franchise, he was injured before even playing a down in the regular season.

Enter Williams.

He would be a talented developmental depth piece for the Jets. Williams came on strong in the 2023 season for the Hurricanes. A former five-star prospect, he flies around the field in his 6’5′, 230 lb. frame. He is also versatile, able to play in the box and coverage. He may even try playing some outside linebacker at the Senior Bowl. Williams would give Jets defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich, himself in Mobile, to coach the Senior Bowl, another piece to play with come this fall.

6.187 – Keith Randolph, Jr. (DL – Illinois)

Another underrated area of the need for the Jets is along the interior of their defensive line. While likely filled by a cheap free-agent vet, the Jets also have a few late picks in the draft where they can take some chances on intriguing prospects. One such player I like is Randolph.

As I said before, it helps that Ulbrich is in Mobile this week for the Senior Bowl, working with these players. Randolph is solid against the run but is also an above-average pass rusher. Put him into the Jets defensive line rotation, let him develop next to All-Pro superstar Quinnen Williams, and watch the magic happen.

7.229 – Charles Turner III (C – LSU)

Will Joe Douglas keep his late picks in the draft, or will he use them to move around to target players earlier? It’s hard to know for sure, but for the exercise of this mock draft, let me mention a few players I like here at the end of the draft.

Turner is an undersized but agile lineman, and he would be yet another versatile depth piece for Joe Douglas and Robert Saleh. He has played tackle and center for LSU and is another experienced prospect who wouldn’t be intimidated by being asked to contribute early if called upon.

7.255 – Blake Watson (HB – Memphis)

Douglas seems to take a running back in his drafts as General Manager of the Jets, so let’s give him another one here late in this mock draft. Watson could slide into the depth chart behind Hall and last year’s running back pick of Isreal Abanikanda. Watson is a multi-tool back out of Memphis who has been rising draft boards as we head into the off-season. Will he last until this late in the draft? Perhaps not when all is said and done, but he is a player you might want to keep on your radar for a late flier in your dynasty rookie drafts.

7.256 – Devin Leary (QB – Kentucky)

Leary has been a roller coaster of draft buzz over his career. A top talent coming out of high school, Leary has risen and fallen like a yo-yo during his time at NC State and a one-year graduate transfer stint at Kentucky. As I write this, he is standing out at practice at the Shrine Bowl. Talent is not the issue, though. Leary needs to show consistency to get on the radar of the NFL.

With all of that said, I do foresee the Jets taking a shot at a developmental quarterback late in this draft. Behind Rodgers, I imagine they will bring in a veteran backup, but when they move on from Wilson, the quarterback room will be empty otherwise. Leary is the perfect developmental quarterback prospect to take a shot on late in the draft, and here I make him my Mr. Irrelevant.

2024 Fantasy Impact

If the Jets draft a wide receiver early in this draft, I would temper expectations. First, they’ll be behind the ultra-talented Garrett Wilson. Second, they’ll have to earn the trust of a future Hall of Fame quarterback known not to trust rookies.

In this draft, I have them taking McMillan, and while I do like him as a prospect, he profiles as the Jets’ WR2 at best. In that case, I believe he would only be worth an early third-round pick in your rookie drafts, and even that would be if the Jets do bring in a big-name veteran free-agent wide receiver like Mike Evans or Calvin Ridley.

If the Jets take a flier on a late-round running back, I foresee their value worth no more than a late fourth-round rookie pick. That player would be buried behind Hall and even Abanikanda, who isn’t on the dynasty radar now.

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