According to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, that was no smokescreen. Mehta reports the Jets would have taken Austin if he had been on the board with the ninth overall pick, but went with cornerback Dee Milliner instead after the Rams traded up to the eighth spot to nab the West Virginia product. The trade made the Jets’ interest a moot point while also confirming the Rams did exactly what they needed to do to get the player they wanted on Thursday night.
The Jets could have tried to trade up to assure themselves a chance at drafting Austin, but that might not have been the wisest course of action for a team with a need for as much young talent as possible right now. The only way to judge whether or not that was the right decision will be to see how things play out over the next few years.
Milliner and defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson joined Austin and guard Chance Warmack as the top four players on the Jets’ board. Warmack went 10th overall to the Titans before the Jets nabbed Richardson with the 13th pick.
Plenty of people were surprised that the Jets didn’t try to help their dismal offense with either of their first round picks, but the offensive help could be coming on Friday. Mehta reports the Jets will “take a good, hard look” at quarterback Geno Smith, Austin’s college teammate, and that they are also interested in Alabama center Barrett Jones. With Nick Mangold already on the roster, Jones would likely be moved to guard if he wound up with the Jets. The Jets are slated to pick 39th and 72nd on Friday.