FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Todd McShay was on the line, ready to talk about the upcoming draft. It was Thursday, Nov. 29 -- a time on the NFL calendar when most fan bases are focused on playoff possibilities.
Different story with the New York Jets. This will be their eighth consecutive season out of the postseason, and the fans already are looking ahead to April 25. If you're a Jets fan, it's what you do.
"This is becoming an annual thing," McShay said with a laugh, meaning our early draft conversations.
With input from McShay and fellow ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr., let's paint a late-fall picture of how the draft might set up for the Jets. Based on their 3-8 record, they currently hold the No. 4 position and have an 80 percent chance of a top-five pick, according to projections by ESPN analytics.
Let's face it: The Jets have a lot of weaknesses, but they really need an offensive playmaker, an edge rusher and offensive-line upgrades. Here's the problem: Their needs don't match the strength of the draft, which means it could be a rotten year for them to have a high pick.
Comparing the top prospects to the Jets' wish list, Kiper said, "You look at left tackle; forget that. Forget wide receiver. There's no Zeke Elliott, Leonard Fournette, Todd Gurley or Saquon Barkley in this draft, so forget running back. You go to edge rusher. Nick Bosa is the best pass-rusher, but I don't think he'll get past Oakland [currently slated to pick No. 3]."
McShay believes the former Ohio State star, who dropped out of school to rehab an injury and prepare for the draft, is worthy of the top pick. Typical Jets luck, right? They can't win for losing. Unless they finish 3-13 and leapfrog their way to No. 1 (a 7 percent chance), they probably will miss out on Bosa. Unless
They could get a boost from the quarterback wild cards.
If Oregon's Justin Herbert and/or Ohio State's Dwayne Haskins declare for the draft -- they're sixth and 11th, respectively, on Kiper's latest Big Board -- it will add more value to the top picks. The Jets would be in a terrific position. The presence of one or two quarterbacks could push down Bosa to them or they could trade their pick to a quarterback-needy team, allowing them to recoup the draft capital they surrendered last year in the trade-up for Sam Darnold.
Duke's Daniel Jones is another quarterback with the potential to rise during the pre-draft process. A year ago, no one envisioned Baker Mayfield as the top pick, but he soared after the season. The Jets, finally out of the quarterback market, might be able to capitalize on the desperation of others.
"A lot of teams say this -- and you have to find a dance partner -- but I would really be in the market for moving down and getting extra picks in this draft, more so than most drafts, especially if I'm the Jets for what they need," McShay said.
The top of the draft is heavy with interior defensive linemen, namely Houston's Ed Oliver, Michigan's Rashan Gary and Alabama's Quinnen Williams. The Jets have been there, done that. (See: Leonard Williams.) They need an outside rusher who can scare the daylights out of a quarterback. Kiper is high on Kentucky outside linebacker Josh Allen, who ranks fourth on the Big Board.
"He probably helped his stock as much as any defensive player in this draft, as much as any player," Kiper said of Allen, who has 14 sacks. "He has length. He added weight. He can close. He plays with passion. He's a highly skilled player and will be -- after Bosa -- the next [pass-rusher] in line."
The Jets also have to find a way to get help for Darnold, who needs weapons. Both analysts like wide receiver Marquise Brown, the 168-pound lightning bolt from Oklahoma. Thing is, he's projected as a mid-first-rounder. McShay said there will be plenty of good receivers and running backs available on Day 2.
"If I were running the Jets, I'd want a receiver who can separate and can develop some chemistry with Darnold," McShay said. "If you look at when he had success at USC, it was with JuJu [Smith-Schuster], guys who could get out of their breaks and be where they're supposed to be. I would look for receivers who can get open and separate."
The draft is 147 days away. Best day of the year for a Jets fan.