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Trade Down or Stand Ground: The New York Jets Crucial Decision in the 2024 NFL Draft

Brock Bowers

2023 New York Jets

Several things went wrong in 2023 for the New York Jets. The most devastating event was Aaron Rodgers being injured during the first series of the first game of the year. Teams simply do not recover from losing their starting quarterback. All thoughts of a Super Bowl berth were crushed on opening night, but it didn’t mean all hope for a positive season ended with Rodger’s exit from the field on September 11th. The Jets were 4-3 after a lackluster win at home against the Giants in week seven. Gang Green was above .500 for the first time all year and had just three games left against teams with a winning record to that point. The Jets had somehow beaten the NFC Champion Philadelphia Eagles and put up their best offensive output to date against the Broncos in Denver. Confidence was rising and there was a good feeling around the team and how they were adjusting to life without their starting quarterback. What followed were five weeks that effectively ended the Jets season.

45 Points

From weeks eight to twelve, the Jets scored a total of 45 points. That is exactly 9 points per game. The high-water mark was an offensive explosion against the Miami Dolphins where the team scored 13 points. Six of those points were scored by the defense. The Jets were held under 10 points in three of the five weeks between weeks eight and twelve. The schedule during that span was less than daunting. Only two of the five teams, the Bills and Dolphins, went on to qualify for the playoffs. The other three teams, the Chargers, Raiders, and Falcons, combined for a 20-31 mark for the year. The Los Angeles Chargers, who beat the Jets at Metlife Stadium by 21 points, finished with just five wins for the season. Los Angeles is slotted at five in the NFL draft – five spots before the Jets who hold the tenth selection.

The five weeks from week 8 to week 12 were among the most frustrating for a fan base that is well versed in frustration. If the Jets could have won just two of those five games, the team would have entered week 13 at 6-6.  It wasn’t unreasonable to think that the Jets could have pulled off two wins in that span of games. The Jets lost to the Raiders by just four points and the Falcons by five points. In week 13, the Jets battered the undermanned Houston Texans 30-6. If the Jets could have notched just two wins from weeks eight through twelve, the Houston win would have put the team at 7-6 with a very real shot at the playoffs. Things could have been drastically different. A 7-6 team still has hope for the stretch run. If the Jets were 7- 6 after thirteen games, does Rodgers push his injury to come back for the last few games? “If” is such a big word. For having just two letters, “if” really punches well above its weight class.

2024 NFL Draft

Speaking of “if,” if the Jets address their weaknesses this offseason, and assuming Aaron Rodgers is healthy, the Jets will enter the 2024 season with as much, if not more, optimism as they had on September 10th.  The If’s start with the 2024 NFL draft. The Jets own the 10th pick overall. Even a novice follower of football understands that the offensive line is the Jets most glaring weakness. There are two offensive tackles rated in the top ten of the draft: Olumuyiwa Fashanu from Penn State is the consensus best offensive lineman. Closely behind Fashanu is Notre Dame’s Joe Alt. The issue for the Jets is that both men may be off the board by the time the Jets select at number ten. There are some mocks that have one of the two tackles falling to ten, but most project both Fashanu and Alt to be gone.

If one of the tackles falls to ten, it should be an easy pick for the Jets. What if both are gone, as many expect? The Jets could address one of their other deficiencies.  New York would have a choice between several very highly rated wide receivers at the tenth slot. Among those receivers who may be on the board when the Jets turn arrives in round one are Rome Udunze from Washington and Malik Neighbors of LSU. In addition to the wideouts thought to be on the board at ten, all-world tight end Brock Bowers from Georgia could also be available at ten.

The Jets best move in the event Fashanu and Alt are not available may be no pick at all.

Trade Down?

If the top two offensive tacklers are off the board, the Jets should consider trading down. The Jets do not have a second-round pick. Trading down could allow the Jets to land a top-rated offensive tackle and get them back into the game in round two. The Jets need to plug in multiple new starters on the offensive line. There is no more pressing issue facing the team this offseason. There are several offensive tackles with first-round grades expected to land at or after the 15th pick. Trading down to take advantage of a very deep offensive line class makes a lot of sense. Nabbing a new starter on the offensive line in the second half of the first round, while adding a second-round pick would be the best use of the 10th pick. The Jets have one pick in the third round and two picks in the fourth round where they can address their other needs. The Jets offensive line may have been the worst in the NFL in 2023. It must get the attention it didn’t get in the offseason prior to the 2023 season.

Welcome to “if” season, fans! Enjoy the possibilities!

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Nick Ferraro

This Article Was Written By Nick Ferraro

Nick Ferraro


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