Jets Might Have A Tough Call To Make Between A Playmaker Or Protection At No. 10 In The Nfl Draft

New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh talks with reporters during an AFC coaches availability at the NFL owners meetings, Monday, March 25, 2024, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh talks with reporters during an AFC coaches availability at the NFL owners meetings, Monday, March 25, 2024, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — The NFL draft board is wide open for Joe Douglas and the New York Jets. And they might end up facing quite the dilemma.

With the 10th overall pick, Douglas could go with another playmaker to help Aaron Rodgers get the Jets into the end zone consistently.

Or, the general manager could target another offensive lineman to make sure the 40-year-old quarterback stays upright after his debut with New York lasted just four plays last season because of a torn Achilles tendon.

“Well, I think this is an unbelievable O-line class,” Douglas said last month at the NFL meetings in Orlando, Florida. “It’s an unbelievable class at quite a few positions. But I think where we are at now, we have great flexibility to go in any direction that we see is best for us moving forward.

"I think it opens the door to a lot of possibilities at 10.”

That's due in large part to the shopping spree the Jets GM went on the past few months after New York finished 7-10 for the second straight year and extended its NFL-worst playoff drought to 13 years.

Douglas revamped the offensive line by acquiring offensive tackle Morgan Moses from Baltimore and signing two-time All-Pro and eight-time Pro Bowl selection Tyron Smith, along with former Ravens guard John Simpson.

They're all expected to start, eliminating the desperate need to take an O-lineman at No. 10. But Smith is 33 and has played only 30 games in the past four seasons because of injuries. Moses is also 33 and was sidelined for three games last season with a torn pectoral muscle that needed surgery.

So, taking an offensive lineman such as Penn State’s Olumuyiwa Fashanu, Oregon State's Taliese Fuaga or Alabama's JC Latham with an eye on the future — and as insurance for the present — could be in play.

The Jets also signed former Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams in the offseason as a complement to Garrett Wilson, giving New York a red zone presence and vertical threat. But Williams is coming off a torn ACL that limited him to three games last season and could keep him sidelined for the start of training camp.

If Georgia tight end Brock Bowers is still available when the Jets go on the clock, it might be difficult to pass on a player considered by many to be the best at his position to enter the draft in several years.

“If there is a player that we feel helps the Jets, we have the flexibility to do that,” Douglas said. “So, we are thinking not only for this year, but for the future, too. But ultimately, we want to do what is best for the 2024 Jets, as well.”


A healthy Williams should give the Jets a terrific 1-2 punch at wide receiver with Wilson. But the depth at the position is a bit shaky after that with Allen Lazard, who struggled mightily in his first season in New York, and second-year receivers Xavier Gipson and Jason Brownlee the next best options. Injuries have caused a constant churning along the offensive line, so getting depth is key.


New York's defensive line should again be among the NFL's best, especially with the Jets acquiring edge rusher Haason Reddick from Philadelphia. The Jets are mostly set at cornerback with Sauce Gardner, D.J. Reed and Michael Carter II as high-performing starters.


All eyes will be on the Jets if Bowers and a top offensive tackle are still around — if Douglas stays put at No. 10.

Taking an O-lineman would appear to be a “safe” pick. But Bowers' do-it-all abilities at tight end are tantalizing.

Only three tight ends have been taken in the top 10 in the past 10 years: Kyle Pitts (No. 4 by Atlanta, 2021), T.J. Hockenson (No. 8 by Detroit, 2019) and Eric Ebron (No. 10 by Detroit, 2014).


Quarterback Zach Wilson, the No. 2 overall pick in 2021, was given permission by the Jets to seek a trade. It could happen during the draft.

But so far, there have been no takers. And the possible landing spots are dwindling.

Teams could be wary of the $5.45 million Wilson is guaranteed this season. It's unlikely the Jets, who signed Tyrod Taylor to be Rodgers' backup, will cut Wilson because they would take a dead money hit of about $11.2 million on the salary cap.