Rumor has it in the league that Joe Douglas is in love with NC State forward Ikem Ekwon.
And according to league sources, the Jets GM wouldn’t be missing out on the 6-4 320-pounder if he was available with the 4th overall on Thursday night, even though Douglas already has George Fant and Mekhi Beckton in as his tackles. .
Gang Green already has the fourth most expensive offensive line in the NFL with $50,752,741; the league average is $35.7 million. And the Jets have used the first two rounds (Elijah Vera-Tucker last year, Beckton in 2020) the last two years in the offensive line.
Picking Ekwon would probably spell the end for Fant or Beckton as it doesn’t make sense to tackle either of them.
Fant’s max win is $11.1 million, with Becton a former first-round pick (11th overall). Fant’s cap is only $1 million guaranteed, so the Jets can walk away from him and free up $10 million. Becton still has money guaranteed after 2022, and Fant will become a free agent in 2023.
But the coaching staff loves Fant, and Robert Saleh said at the Senior Bowl: “He deserves to be in the left tackle discussion. I told George that he has a chance to keep this position.
Beckton’s status became more precarious after he faced fitness issues ahead of his second season and then suffered an MCL sprain and a luxating patella in his first week that kept him out for the remainder of the journey.
Despite public rumors that the Jets coaching staff is done with the former Louisville star, multiple sources within the team say this is not true. The only thing that worries the team is the condition of Beckton.
If Ekwonu leaves, then attention will focus on Jermaine Johnson of the former Soviet Union and Kayvon Thibodeau of Oregon at the edge of the field, as well as Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner of Cincinnati.
The fan favorite is Thibodeau, but he is not in contention for fourth place with the Jets.
Thibodeau’s talent is obvious – he is an explosive athlete who can pounce on a passer, which is what the Jets need. He finished his Oregon career with 35.5 tackles per loss and 19 sacks.
There have been goofy tales about his personality, but the Jets coaching staff isn’t bothered by that. However, the front office is divided, some don’t care, some don’t.
So that plays a part in Gang Green’s assessment of Thibodeaux.
Johnson’s train picks up steam after the ACC’s top quarterback dominated the Senior Bowl. The 6-5, 260-pounder finished with 17.5 tackles and lost 11.5 sacks in 2021. Johnson would have been a good fit for this defense as he excelled at stopping the run and rushing to the passer.
Several scouts the Daily News spoke to rated Johnson higher than Thibodeau.
Rumor has it in the Jets building that Johnson also has a slight lead over Thibodeau.
The Jets would have preferred him in 10th, but there’s a good chance Johnson won’t make it to 10th as the Falcons, Giants and Seahawks need pass rushers.
Gardner is another option. It is physical, long and fast. He has all the qualities to be a great cornerback. Adding it will greatly improve the quarterback room, which already features DJ Reed, Brandin Echols, Bryce Hall and Isaiah Dunn.
Unlikely, but not ruled out. But if Aekwonu is available at number 4, it will really complicate things.
With number 10, the buzz around USC wide receiver Drake London continues to pick up.
Multiple sources didn’t care that London didn’t run 40 on their Pro Day. The movie already showed that he wasn’t a burnout, but the Jets are highly valued at 6-4, 220 pounds.
London, paired with Elijah Moore, Corey Davis and Braxton Berrios, could give Zach Wilson a varied host company.
Moore and Berrios can be fast and explosive options. Davis will be a versatile weapon and London could be a big target that the Jets missed so bad last year. And London is more than just a target with a big body. He can create games after the catch and he can lay routes very well for a player his size.