A trade shakes things up

Joe Douglas treated image smiling wearing hoodie green background

“Trader Joe” Douglas hasn’t been shy about moving around the NFL Draft in his time running the Jets. He’s swapped picks five times during his two drafts in charge, moving down four times and moving up once. And those are just the moves he made during drafts without other players involved.

So don’t be shocked if he does it again, because there has been a buzz for months that he’s interested in dealing the second of his two first-round picks. And with several teams interested in moving up for a quarterback, the opportunity could be there for him to pull a deal off.

What would a deal look like? There are too many possibilities to be sure. But here’s a guess in my latest Jets 7-Round Mock Draft – my one and only mock where I’ll take a shot at making a trade:

First round (4th overall) – Oregon DE Kayvon Thibodeaux

I keep coming back to this 6-4, 254-pound pass-rushing dynamo (for now) because he’s so good and because it always seems like such nonsense when people start questioning the “fire” of a player – especially one the NFL seemed to love for months.

Those questions could drop him towards the bottom of the top 10. He also still could go in the top 3, where it really does seem possible that edge rushers could occupy all three spots. I think he’ll get through to the Jets, though, and given Robert Saleh‘s love of pass rushers and Douglas’ recent speech about their importance, it’s hard to see the Jets passing on a good one here – even with a top tackle likely still available.

Kayvon Thibodeaux smiling during combine interview

Kayvon Thibodeaux smiling during combine interview

Thibodeaux has speed, strength, intelligence and he was productive at college (seven sacks last season). If the “fire” talk is even a little bit real, Saleh will find a way to motivate him. So will the veterans in the locker room, like returning pass-rusher Carl Lawson, who will love having someone to take the pressure off him on the other side.

TRADE

The Jets send the 10th overall pick to the Los Angeles Chargers in return for the 17th overall pick, a first-round pick in 2023, and a fifth-round pick in 2023.

The Chargers are in go-for-it mode with their young quarterback, Justin Herbert, and they need a right tackle to make sure he’s protected. If they can get one who’s a bookend to Pro Bowl LT Rashawn Slaterthey could be set up for years.

It’s likely that Alabama’s Evan Neal and NC States Ikem Ekwonu will go in the top 10, and Mississippi States Charles Cross could go that high, too. If that happens, the Chargers will get antsy, especially since the tackle-needy New Orleans Saints just made a trade to position themselves one spot in front of them, at No. 16.

The price seems steep, but not really considering what the Giants got from the Chicago Bears last year to drop from 11 to 20 (a fourth-round pick, plus a future first and fourth). The Chargers would be moving up for either Cross or Northern Iowa tackle Trevor Penningand the Jets would drop knowing they could still get a top receiver in the middle of the first round.

First round (17th overall, from Chargers) – Alabama WR Jameson Williams

A truth of NFL Drafts: Receivers drop, especially when there are a lot of them. And this year, there are a lot projected to go in the first two rounds, which means more teams than you think will be inclined to wait.

So don’t be shocked if the Jets have multiple intriguing options here, like USC’s Drake LondonArkansas’ Traylon Burksor Ohio States Chris Olavez† But the 6-1, 179-pound Williams is a really interesting option.

He might’ve been the first receiver off the board if he hadn’t torn his ACL in the NCAA championship game on Jan. 10, which kept him off the pre-draft workout circuit and might keep him out until a few months into his rookie season. The payoff could be huge. His upside is enormous. But so is the risk.

Second round (35th overall) – Georgia DT Devonte Wyatt

Perhaps you’ve heard: Saleh loves defensive linemen. They do have enough to get by with this year inside, with Sheldon Rankins and Solomon Thomas rotating with Quinnen Williams (and presumably John Franklin Myers playing a little inside, too). But Rankins and Thomas aren’t signed beyond this year and the 6-3, 304-pound Wyatt could end up better than both of them anyway. He’s a strong run-stuffer (which would help replace Foley Fatukasic) and has upside as a pass-rusher. He and Williams could be quite an anchor in the middle for years.

Second round (38th overall) – Penn State S Jaquan Brisker

Another player I’m stuck on because he makes so much sense for the Jets. They were scraping the bottom of the barrel at this position last season, and while it’s better after signing Jordan Whitehead and bringing back Lamarcus Joyner, the depth isn’t great and the future is questionable. The 6-1, 199-pound Brisker has good size and is said to be terrific at reading opposing offenses. Saleh’s defenses rely much more on the talent up front, but he still wants smart, rangy players on the back end. Brisker could be that guy once the 31-year-old Joyner is gone.

Third round (69th overall) – Alabama RB Brian Robinson

The Jets are going to draft a running back at some point even though they really love Michael Carter, because their offense is built on a running back committee. That’s not going to change, which means they need more players who can do different things. The 6-2, 225-pound Robinson is a big, tough, physical runner who might be better at the tough, inside yards than anyone the Jets currently have. He doesn’t have the speed or the moves of Carter or Tevin Coleman, but he can take a pounding. He also is deceptively fast with 4.5 speed.

Fourth round (111th overall) – Wisconsin LB Leo Chenal

The Jets like the potential of their young linebackers and think they’re a perfect fit for the Saleh defensive system. That doesn’t mean they won’t add more, though, especially with CJ Mosley becoming cuttable/tradeable after this season. The 6-3, 250-pound Chenal could be groomed as Mosley’s eventual replacement.

He is a tackling machine with incredible strength (his 34 reps on the bench press at his Pro Day was more than any player – even the linemen – did at the combine). He also has 4.5 speed. He’s got all the traits of a good middle linebacker except he’s said to be a bit lacking in coverage. But he could have a couple of years to learn that part.

Fourth round (117th overall) – LSU C/G Chasen Hines

If Douglas gets to Day 3 of the draft and hasn’t taken an offensive lineman yet, figure he’ll fix that oversight quickly. Also, it’s a good bet he’s going to have his eyes on center prospects to take over for Connor McGovernwhose contract runs out at the end of the year.

Hines is big (6-3, 327) and powerful, but not particularly quick. Some of that, according to scouts, is that he carries too much weight (and has had trouble keeping it down). But if the Jets can get him to keep the weight off, he can be good depth on the interior of the line and a potential future starting center.

Jets GM Joe Douglas

Jets GM Joe Douglas

Fifth round (146th overall) – Tennessee CB Alontae Taylor

The Jets really do like their young cornerback group and think newly acquired DJ Reed could be the no. 1 corner they’ve been missing. But this is a position where NFL teams need all the depth and competition they can get.

The 6-foot, 199-pound Taylor has good size and blazing speed. Some scouts think he will be a better safety in the NFL, which might make him a nice, versatile fit in the Jets’ defense. There’s also a wide variety of opinions on him, and he could end up going anywhere from the third to the sixth round.

Fifth round (163rd overall) – Auburn S Smoke Monday

What the scouts like about him is his size (6-2, 207) and the fact that he plays hard and with lots of energy. That could make him a valuable special-teamer at the start and give him potential as rotational safety in the future if he can reign in his instincts.

One scout said his energy overruns his speed at times, and though he ran a 4.52 at the Combine he’s not quick enough to overcome mistakes or misses when he’s going for a big hit. Still, in certain situations he will give defensive coaches something to work with. And right now, the more capable bodies the Jets can get at his position, the better.

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