The Jets’ disappointing season will come with one major perk: a likely top 5 pick in April’s NFL Draft.
Oakland’s win over the Broncos on Monday night moved the Jets to third in the draft order with one game to go.
The Cardinals (3-12) are in position for the No. 1 pick and the 49ers (4-11) are No. 2, ahead of the Jets (4-11) because they have a worse strength of schedule. The Jets’ poor strength of schedule pushed them ahead of the Raiders, who improved to 4-11 with Monday night’s win.
There’s a chance the Jets could move into the No. 1 spot, but it’s a slim one — ESPN rates it at 3 percent. The Cardinals would have to beat the Seahawks and the 49ers would have to to beat the Rams. And, of course, the Jets would have to lose at New England on Sunday.
The Jets could also move into No. 1 if the 49ers lose, but the strength of schedule would have to break their way.
Like we said, the chances are slim. But it’s not impossible.
If the Jets lose on Sunday, they’re 13-point underdogs to the Patriots, they won’t pick any worse than No. 3 overall and the they could move up to the No. 2 spot, depending on San Francisco’s strength of schedule.
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New England will have plenty to play for on Sunday as it tries to lock up a playoff bye week. Even if the Jets somehow pull out a stunning win, it shouldn’t hurt their draft position too much. ESPN gives them a 99 percent chance of picking in the top five, and because of strength of schedule it’s likely the Jets would fall no lower than fourth in the draft order — even with a win.
The Jets of course have plenty of needs to fill after missing the playoffs for the eighth consecutive year, the second-longest streak in franchise history.
They need offensive weapons for quarterback Sam Darnold, who has impressed in his last three games by completing 64 of 97 passes (65.9 percent) for 764 yards, six touchdowns and one interception.
They need depth and talent on the offensive line. And, as has been the case for the last decade-plus, they’re looking for a dominant pass rusher.
The draft is heavy on defensive talent, with pro-ready pass rushers Nick Bosa (Ohio State) and Josh Allen (Kentucky) expected to go in the top five. Allen played his high school football at Montclair. The Jets could take one of them to transform their defense, or fill a big a major need on the offensive line by taking Alabama tackle Jonah Williams.
They could also address some of those needs in free agency and trade down in the draft. The Jets don’t have a second-round pick in 2019 because of last year’s deal to move up to No. 3 where they got Sam Darnold. Perhaps they could recoup that second-round pick by trading back and still fill their remaining needs.
No matter what happens with the draft order, this is a critical offseason for the Jets as they try to find their way back to contention for the first time in nearly a decade.