The New York Jets aren’t ready for a talent like Trevor Lawrence

Trevor Lawrence is a transcendent talent who shines bright enough to help almost any NFL franchise. The Jets are one team he just can’t save.

This is a make-or-break season for Jets’ quarterback Sam Darnold.

The lack of roster talent surrounding him in the Big Apple makes it almost certain that he’ll lose his grip on the starting job after the conclusion of the season. That means the Jets will go hunting for a new franchise quarterback in the 2021 NFL Draft.

If they secure the No. 1 overall pick, the team will almost certainly tab Trevor Lawrence to be that guy. He’s the consensus No. 1 signal-caller in his draft class. The combination of his brilliant arm talent and insane production for Clemson makes him a highly-coveted prospect. Lawrence also has the polish required to come in enjoy some measure of immediate success in the right system.

Unfortunately, the Jets are horribly equipped to be Lawrence’s landing spot. He could give them an upgrade over Darnold, but the lack of surrounding talent on offense would leave Lawrence horribly exposed as a rookie.

In many ways, the Jets drafting Lawrence would expose him to the same kind of struggles Darnold has endured during his rookie contract.

It’s not Joe Douglas’ fault

It’s important to remember that the blame for the state of the current roster doesn’t lay at the feet of current general manager Joe Douglas. He’s only just taken over for the dumpster fire that was Mike Maccagnan’s tenure.

The initial signals from Douglas’ tenure are actually encouraging. The team’s most recent draft class at least gives the Jets a few intriguing talents to develop. It might take Mekhi Becton some time to adjust to life in the NFL but he has the natural ability to become a star left tackle. Denzel Mims gives New York a wide receiver who can potentially grow into a No. 1 option on the outside.

If Douglas had been in charge of all the Jets’ drafts since Darnold got into the NFL it’s possible they’d have an array of offensive talent capable of supporting him.

As it stands, there’s a shockingly low level of talent on that side of the ball. It’s going to take several offseasons for the Jets to infuse enough talent into their offense to make a traditional, drop-back quarterback successful.

This isn’t an indictment of Trevor Lawrence

The lack of supporting weapons makes drafting Lawrence a perilous decision for the franchise. They would be repeating the same error they made when selecting Darnold. Lawrence needs quality weapons to maximize his prodigious talent.

That does not mean Lawrence is somehow limited as a quarterback. He’s not an electric athlete who’s going to excel at making plays when his protection breaks down. He is an exceptional thrower of the ball when he’s given any modicum of protection. That’s the skill set that makes NFL evaluators salivate over the chance to draft him.

So what should the Jets do if they get the No. 1 pick?

The Jets have two logical courses of action if they are bad enough in 2020 to “earn” the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. The first, and more likely course of action, would be to draft Lawrence and figure the rest out later.

It’s at least possible Douglas and the team’s new front office could build the offensive talent around him on the fly quickly enough to make things work. If Becton and Mims pop it could help make things look much different in 2021.

The Jets could also spend the rest of their draft capital on players that are perfectly suited to support Lawrence moving forward. That wouldn’t be an ideal NFL ecosystem for Lawrence, but it could work if New York gets a break or two.

The other option would be for the Jets’ front office to take advantage of the interest in Lawrence from other teams around the league. Auctioning off the No. 1 pick could allow the franchise to receive a king’s ransom in return.

At a very basic level, the Jets could decide they’re better off bringing Darnold back and adding multiple first-round picks than spending the No. 1 pick on a quarterback who doesn’t really fit their current roster. It’s even possible the Jets could find a franchise willing to give up three first round picks in exchange for the right to select Lawrence.

This would represent a bold strategy by Douglas and his relatively new front office, but it could be the right value play for a franchise that needs to add talent all over the roster.

Adam Gase has to go no matter what

One relatively obvious point that hasn’t been made yet is that Adam Gase cannot be allowed to continue as the team’s coach. There’s a strong argument to be made that Douglas’ first act as GM should have been to axe Gase. He can’t connect to his players and lacks the offensive ingenuity required to prop up the team’s questionable talent level on that side of the ball.

The Jets must focus their energy on hiring an innovative, offensive-minded coach who can help their quarterbacks develop as soon as possible. Whether that guy is Darnold, Lawrence, or another rookie such as Justin Fields or Trey Lance, it’s crucial that the Jets give their signal-caller the right head coach to maximize their potential moving forward.

Can the Jets be saved?

The sheer amount of parity around the NFL prohibits any team from truly facing a hopeless future. As many mistakes as the Jets have made in recent years, there’s still a clear path towards redemption for them if the front office starts making better decisions.

Next: 2021 NFL Mock Draft: Lawrence goes to Jacksonville

The challenge for the franchise will be exercising patience when their fan base, understandably, is dying to experience any measure of meaningful success. It may take Douglas and his team a couple of quality offseasons to get this team back on track. That’s the price the franchise has to pay for its recent sins.

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