The prevailing logic on the New York Jets first round pick has them selecting a pass rusher in the first round. Most draft boards have Courtney Upshaw still being available for them with the 16th overall pick. Yet, is Upshaw good value for the Jets at #16, especially if safety Mark Barron or wide receiver Michael Floyd is still on the board?
Since the off-season has started, I have written that wide receiver is not a priority position for this team. With the way their offense is built it doesn’t make sense to spend a first round pick on a receiver to put opposite of Santonio Holmes, who you have already invested huge money in. That being said, Floyd is pretty much regarded as a clear cut top ten talent right now and arguably being on the same level as Justin Blackmon. The Jets would be getting a needed big play weapon and a player who could take away double teams from Santonio Holmes, making him more productive. It is a selection that takes away from the Ground and Pound identity they are trying to build but ultimately could substantially improve their offense.
A more practical solution could be looking to move the pick if Floyd is available. There should be a line of teams anxious to get their hands on him and the Jets should be able to collect an extra second or third round pick for moving back, which will give them more versatility and options in the top 100 selections of the draft with plenty of mid-round talent.
When it comes to Barron or Upshaw, most people’s initial reaction is to take the pass rusher now and worry about safety later. If you are sold on Upshaw as a game changer rushing the passer, that is the right move but if not, it isn’t so clear cut.
Upshaw isn’t on Melvin Ingram’s level when it comes to explosiveness, speed or versatility. I am all for the Jets making an aggressive move to get Ingram but if they are going to stay put at 16 and miss out on him, Barron could be a better option.
At 279 pounds and looking more like a 4-3 end than a 3-4 outside linebacker, Upshaw could very well translate in Calvin Pace 2.0. He is going to be a productive NFL player but will he give the Jets another outside linebacker who is solid against the run, struggles in coverage and maxes out at 8 sacks in a season because he lacks elite burst off the ball? That type of addition certainly would help the defense but the Jets could survive with Pace and Bryan Thomas playing the bulk of reps for another year if that is the case.
The Jets currently have serious depth issues at safety. Right now the depth chart is LaRon Landry who has major durability concerns. Eric Smith who needs to be a role player, not a starter and Tracy Wilson who has never played a meaningful NFL snap…that’s it. This defense needs a player who can step in and start immediately. Can the Jets risk that with a 2nd or 3rd round pick or should they take the safer route with Barron if he is on the board?
I am not advocating for the Jets to ignore outside linebacker/pass rusher because they need one but maybe that is the position they look to address in round two or three, or even trading up into the back end of round one. Remember the Jets have veterans in place who can play the bulk of the reps at outside linebacker. They don’t have that at safety. If you have Barron or Upshaw to choose from and you grade out Barron higher, take Barron.