Better QB Asset: Athleticism or Ability to Process Quickly? | The Rich Eisen Show


The Rich Eisen Show 24 April, 2021 - 02:00pm 13 views

What day is the NFL draft?

This year's draft runs from Thursday, April 29, to Saturday, May 1. Here's a breakdown of the schedule by round: Round 1: Thursday, April 29 (8 p.m. ET) CBSSports.comWhen is the 2021 NFL Draft: Date, time, stream, TV, schedule, mock drafts, live coverage

No question about it — the Jets must draft an offensive weapon at No. 23 overall

Elite Sports NY 25 April, 2021 - 05:10am

Yes, the adjectives to describe the Jets‘ pending selection of BYU quarterback Zach Wilson at No. 2 overall in the upcoming draft. Them eventually acquiring the young signal-caller has essentially been the narrative for quite some time — it was basically confirmed with the recent trade of Sam Darnold to the Panthers.

While many believe the 49ers could choose Alabama quarterback Mac Jones with the third overall pick, that pending selection isn’t as crystal clear as Gang Green’s is. The annual draft truly starts at No. 3; no one will be surprised by what the Jets do with their prestigious choice.

But lucky for the organization (and thanks to the 2020 trade of Jamal Adams to Seattle), the Jets additionally own the No. 23 overall pick in the back half of the opening round.

What they do with that valuable resource remains a mystery, but there’s only one right answer to the question of what route they should take next Thursday night — draft an offensive weapon.

No, the defense’s 2020 rankings in major statistical categories weren’t ideal, to say the least. But improvements on that side of the ball are already on the way.

Free-agent pickup Carl Lawson will boost the pass rush at the defensive end position, linebacker Jarrad Davis should be a reliable complement to C.J. Mosley (who’s anticipated to return following his 2020 opt-out), and Marcus Maye is one of the more talented young safeties in this league.

The Jets aren’t desperate for a defensive weapon to the point where they absolutely need to utilize their late first-round pick to acquire one. They could wait until the No. 34 pick to draft a talented edge rusher to assist in the development of this defense — there’s a chance Penn State’s Jayson Oweh or Oklahoma’s Ronnie Perkins could drop to the second round. Heck, some (not me) believe Miami’s Gregory Rousseau won’t be off the board until the second round, so the talented pass rusher could also be an option at No. 34.

Maybe Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley drops to the Jets in the second as well?

Drafting a defensive playmaker at No. 34 is totally possible, and don’t think it wouldn’t be a beneficial move just because the player wouldn’t have that “first-rounder” label on him.

Of course, you can say the same of the opposite route and suggest they could grab a defensive player at No. 23 and still cash in on a receiver that drops to No. 34 (this wide receiver class is deep).

However, that brings us to our next point…

Don’t forget, the Jets will most likely be rolling the dice with a rookie quarterback from day one, a move that hasn’t been all too common in recent years.

Justin Herbert didn’t start right away. Tua Tagovailoa didn’t either.

Lamar Jackson didn’t, Baker Mayfield didn’t, and of course, Patrick Mahomes didn’t.

When Week 1 rolls around in September, the Jets will be relying on a 22-year-old kid who had one year of significant collegiate production at a non-Power 5 school to help improve an offense that was last in scoring, total yards, and second-to-last in passing just last season.

He won’t be able to do it all on his own, and if the Jets are going to make the type of investment in Wilson that they’re slated to make, his development will need to be one of the top focal points.

In order to find efficient on-field improvement, Zach will need a consistently reliable slate of weapons — the Jets have improved that group with the free-agent acquisitions of wide receivers Corey Davis and Keelan Cole, but that may not be enough.

Utilizing a pick such as No. 23 to ensure the Jets can get the top receiver or running back available at that point in the draft would assist in the eventual improvement of both Wilson and the offensive unit as a whole.

Obviously, the former option is more intriguing than the latter — this may annoy some old school football fans, but the NFL has become a passing league, plain and simple.

A receiving corps that includes Corey Davis, Jamison Crowder, Keelan Cole, Denzel Mims, and a draftee such as Elijah Moore (Ole Miss), Kadarius Toney (Florida), Terrace Marshall Jr. (LSU), or Rashod Bateman (Minnesota) would be a scary group to defend, as we’ve stated numerous times.

Selecting a running back at No. 23 may not be a superb value pick for New York, so don’t expect the organization to do so unless general manager Joe Douglas falls in love with Alabama’s Najee Harris or Clemson’s Travis Etienne, should one or both be available by the time the Jets are on the clock.

The New York Jets' perfect 2021 NFL Draft, from Zach Wilson to William Sherman 24 April, 2021 - 02:04pm

The result is this memorable quote from his forlorn friend, played by Jason Lee: "Just remember, the sweet is never as sweet without the sour."

As a lifelong New York Jets fan, I know sour.

The Jets currently own the longest playoff drought in the league, with 10 years having passed since Mark Sanchez fell inches short of a comeback against the Steelers in the 2010 AFC title game. 

In the past decade, they’ve started 12 different quarterbacks. 

You could make a compelling argument that the Jets have not had a franchise QB since Joe Namath wagged a finger after winning the Super Bowl in 1969.

Sam Darnold was supposed to be the guy after the team drafted him third in 2018. But 38 starts later, the result is the equivalent of downing a pack of sour patch kids.

Trading up for Sanchez worked in 2009 — if by "worked" you mean two AFC Championship trips in his first two seasons. In 2011 and 2012, Sanchez was a disaster, and then he was gone, yet another potential franchise QB who never made it to a big second contract.

Chad Pennington, Boomer Esiason, Ken O’Brien … it’s difficult to comprehend just how badly one franchise could do in trying to solve the most important position in sports over a 40-year period.

Enter Zach Wilson. The Mormon Mahomes. He joins a long list of QBs — Geno Smith, anyone? How about a jog down memory lane with Christian Hackenberg? — whom fans of the green and white got very excited about on draft weekend.

If Wilson is able to lead the Jets to a Super Bowl victory — yes, for now I’d settle for the playoffs — it would definitely be one of the sweetest moments in New York sports history.

It starts next weekend, when the Jets have 10 picks in the 2021 NFL Draft. Here’s their perfect draft:

Wilson started 27 games in college but emerged only this year as a potential franchise QB. There are injury concerns — shoulder surgery after his freshman year and a fractured thumb — due to his thin frame (6-foot-2, 214 pounds), but his traits, accuracy and ability to read defenses are somewhat reminiscent of Patrick Mahomes. No pressure!

If not for recent back surgery, Farley could have gone in the top 10. At 6-foot-2, he was a star QB in high school, shifted to receiver at Virginia Tech and then moved to cornerback. He’s light on reps but heavy on natural ability. Robert Saleh, who has coached defenses for nearly 20 years, is the perfect coach for Farley.

The Jets could use a 6-foot-2 red zone threat, and oh, yeah, Marshall ran a 4.38 40 at the LSU pro day. There isn’t going to be pressure on him initially, with Corey Davis and Denzel Mims starting on the outside, but Marshall could battle Josh Doctson for reps as the No. 3 WR this year. 

As the Jets transition from a 3-4 defense to a 4-3, they’re going to need edge rushers — yes, even after picking up Carl Lawson and Vinny Curry in free agency. Jones led the ACC in sacks and was named an All-American, and if teams think he can play OLB in the 3-4 as well as the 4-3 (where he played at Pittsburgh), he might not last this long.

How does a 6-foot-4 receiver with 4.42 40 speed fall this far? He doesn’t play fast, and he struggles to get separation despite that 40 time. He could go late in the second round but will most likely fall to the third. The Jets taking two big WRs might seem excessive, but they have three slot WRs (Jamison Crowder, Braxton Berrios, Keelan Cole), and the guess here is they don’t want to make the same mistakes with Wilson that they did with Darnold.

Saleh loves linebackers who can drop back into coverage, as evidenced by the signing of Jarrad Davis, who wasn’t a good scheme fit with Rocket Scientist Matt Patricia in Detroit. Saleh is looking for linebackers in the Fred Warner (No. 1 LB in coverage in 2020, per PFF) mold. Werner is no Warner, but the latter did go in the third round and after three seasons was first-team All-Pro.

Saleh was a defensive coach for the Seahawks during the Legion of Boom era, and he knows the value of big corners. Mukuamu’s size (6-foot-3) and length allow him to defend on the outside, and if he had been in the 2020 draft, he’d have gotten some early round consideration. But Mukuamu struggled in 2020. Complicating this pick: Does Richard Sherman sign with the Jets if they add two CBs in the draft?

The good news is he’s a track star masquerading as a 6-foot, 207-pound running back. The bad news is he has problems catching the ball, he doesn’t break tackles, and his blocking needs work. That said, Hubbard is perfect for the zone running scheme Mike LaFleur brings from San Francisco. And Hubbard will have a chance to play, as the Jets will rotate backs (Tevin Coleman, Josh Adams, Ty Johnson, La’Mical Perine) instead of having a true No. 1, like San Francisco did.

An incredible, 252-pound athlete with a 41.5-inch vertical, Smith had 14.5 sacks in 2019. Saleh needs depth on his defensive line to generate a pass rush, and it’d be smart for him to take a flier on a former 2-star recruit who has added 60 pounds since high school.

Don’t be surprised if the Jets wait until the end to grab a developmental lineman. They spent all of last season tinkering with the OL and added Dan Feeney in free agency to be their primary backup. After blocking for Kyler Murray in high school, Sherman was a three-year starter for the Buffaloes. He is athletic enough to rotate all over the line — primarily guard and perhaps center — as a reserve.

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