The New York Jets were one of the NFL’s worst teams in 2020. They were on track to pick first overall before two unexpected wins at the end of the seasons allowed the Jacksonville Jaguars to pass them. With Trevor Lawrence out of their grasp, it is interesting to see if they still move on from Sam Darnold. Assuming they don’t, their draft could be very offensive-heavy as they attempt to get a final look at Sam Darnold. With that in mind, here is a 2021 New York Jets mock draft.
2021 New York Jets Mock Draft
Round 1 – DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
Many have speculated that the Jets will take a quarterback with this pick. However, Sam Darnold is still a talented young quarterback, and providing him with weapons to improve his offense may be their best option. DeVonta Smith dominated college football this season winning the Heisman with an impressive 117 receptions, 1,856 yards, and 23 touchdowns in 13 games. The Jets’ receivers this season struggled to produce.
Jamison Crowder, their best receiver in 2020, had just 700 yards and six touchdowns on the year. Only one other receiver, Breshad Perriman, eclipsed 500 yards. Smith would be a great addition to a struggling Jets offense. With the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins becoming serious contenders in the AFC, New York is in danger of becoming the permanent basement team of the AFC East.
Round 1 – Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
Horn is a competitive, big-bodied corner who can start on the outside and matchup against a team’s top receiver. Jaycee is the son of former pro bowl receiver Joe Horn. His family history implies that Horn has the support to succeed in the NFL. For the Jets, their cornerback situation has been dire for a few seasons and it is no better now.
The Jets’ cornerbacks had just seven total interceptions in 2020. Additionally, their top cornerback, Pierre Desir, who intercepted a team-leading three passes, was cut in November before signing with the Baltimore Ravens for the playoffs. Horn would be a great young addition to a defense that currently lacks identity.
Round 2 – Trey Smith, IOL, Tennessee
Smith is a former five-star recruit for Tennessee. Sam Darnold was the eighth-most sacked quarterback in 2020 despite playing just 12 games. Smith allowed just one sack this season on 664 snaps. That is incredibly consistent for the All-American guard. That level of consistent blocking would be a vast improvement for the Jets’ offensive line. Adding Smith would be a great way to improve the Jets’ overall offense with his ability to protect Darnold and create space for the Jets’ running game.
Round 3 – Shaun Wade, CB, Ohio State
Wade is another highly-regarded cornerback who can play the outside well. His big frame gives him an advantage in man coverage situations and he also has the tools to play in zone schemes. Wade played great for Ohio State in his three-year career and should translate well to the NFL. The Jets need an overhaul at cornerback and drafting a second cornerback within the first four picks should not be out of the question for any 2021 New York Jets mock draft.
Round 3 – Richard LeCounte III, S, Georgia
LeCounte is a versatile safety who plays a great modern game. His ability to play deep in coverage or come up in run situations makes him a great all-around player for a defense. His addition to a defense that lost Jamal Adams, their star safety, via trade, would be a great help. LeCounte started three seasons for a dominant Georgia defense during that timespan. LeCounte’s best season saw him record over 60 tackles and intercept four passes for the Bulldogs. He also has an aggressive edge to his play-style and can be effective on special teams. LeCounte has a good chance to make an immediate impact on a Jets team full of needs.
Round 4 – Hunter Long, TE, Boston College
The Jets’ offense has lacked a clear number one option at the tight end position for many seasons. Chris Herndon has been their best attempt at a solution, but his best season saw him catch just 39 passes for 500 yards and four touchdowns. Long is a great mid-round option that has the potential to develop above his draft position into a true top tight end. In 2020, Long caught 57 passes for roughly 700 yards and five touchdowns. Long has a good frame at 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds. He will be another good option for Sam Darnold to continue his development into the quarterback they envisioned him being.
Round 5 – Jaret Patterson, RB, Buffalo
Most 2021 New York Jets mock drafts should have them taking a running back at some point. The Jets’ rushing offense has been stagnant in recent seasons and nobody in their roster has made a case for being the long-term option. The NFL has seen a trend of mid-round running backs becoming mainstays in the NFL early in their careers and the Jets should take a shot here with Patterson. The MAC offensive player of the year had a great season in 2020 with Buffalo.
Patterson rushed for 1,072 yards and 19 touchdowns in 2020 following up his 2019 season where he had 1,800 yards and 19 touchdowns on the ground. Patterson’s breakout moment came this year against Kent State where he ran for 400 yards and eight touchdowns in that game. Patterson had a dominant college career and could be a great addition to the Jets’ offense.
Round 5 – Drake Jackson, IOL, Kentucky
The second attempt to fix the Jets’ weak interior offensive line in this 2021 New York Jets mock draft is Kentucky center, Drake Jackson. Jackson could easily be a starting center in the NFL. In over 900 passing snaps during his three-year career at Kentucky, Jackson allowed just one sack. In a season that will be crucial in setting up Sam Darnold for success, adding a pass protecting center in round five would be great value for a team in need of several positions on both sides of the ball.
Round 6 – Amari Rodgers, WR, Clemson
The last pick of this 2021 New York Jets mock draft is another receiver. After losing Robby Anderson to the Carolina Panthers, the Jets need to establish a new core group of receivers that can be the future in New York. Rodgers has been a part of Clemson’s offense for each of his four seasons there, but in 2020 Rodgers established himself as a dominant threat.
Rodgers had 77 catches for 1,020 yards and seven touchdowns beating his former career-bests of 575 yards and four touchdowns. The Jets’ offensive struggles have been noted several times and Rodgers is another attempt to fix a struggling offense that needs answers at the quarterback position.