Now that the free agency period has cooled down, we have a better idea of what the Jets roster will look like heading into the draft. John Idzik has done a solid job cheaply plugging a few holes so that the team won’t be forced to address any specific position when they’re on the clock come draft day. But that’s not to say that the roster is set across the board. Let’s take a look at some of the changes the team made at a few positions — and the specific players playing those positions — and what roles they will play in John Idzik’s decision making process during the 2013 draft.
BUY: Running Backs – I was one of the lone Shonn Greene supporters heading into last season and it seemed as though he went out of his way to make me look foolish, one three yard run at a time. He’s moved on to vulture touchdowns from Chris Johnson fantasy football owners in 2013, and the Jets signed former Panther and Raider Mike Goodson to replace him. Goodson is a player I’ve liked for a few years now, but he’s never gotten the chance to really show what he can do because he’s been behind some talented and highly paid running backs throughout his career. He possessed the ability to break a long play at any time, and he will help the Jets hit more home runs in 2013 rather than plod down the field slowly. Joining him in the running back platoon will be Bilal Powell, who really came on down the stretch in 2012 and proved he can be an effective running back when given the chance. These two combined may not produced eye-popping numbers, but they’re going to get the job done and provide a very solid 1-2 punch. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the team draft a RB in the mid-rounds, but I think it is unnecessary to do so.
BUY: Wide Receivers – Wide Receiver is another position I think the Jets are pretty well-set in and they don’t need to spend a high draft choice on. With Santonio Holmes returning from injury and Jeremy Kerley breaking out last year, the team has two very reliable receivers. Stephen Hill had a very up-and-down rookie season, but we knew he was going to be a project-type player coming in. The drops are certainly alarming, but you have to give the kid a chance this season, and there is no denying his physical ability. He provides a serious deep threat, and that’s an important element of Marty Mornhinweg’s new offense. If the team does indeed trade Darrelle Revis and ends up with an extra first round pick, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a receiver like Tavon Austin drafted, but as it stands now, I think the team’s best route to go is to sign a veteran receiver such as Braylon Edwards to hold the fort for one year and use the valuable draft choices elsewhere. You know, positions that are truly weak, like oh I don’t know…
SELL: Tight Ends – The Jets desperately need to add a tight end to the mix on draft day. They were interested in Fred Davis of the Redskins, but he shockingly chose to go back and catch passes from RG3 rather than the Mark Sanchez/David Garrard combo. I’ve never been a big fan of Jeff Cumberland, but I could live with him sharing the tight end spot with a 2nd or 3rd round rookie draft choice, at least in the first part of the season as the rookie gets his feet wet. Joining them is Hayden Smith, who has some potential, but obviously can’t be relied upon to be a major contributor. The team badly needs to address this position going forward.
SELL: Guards – To be clear, I liked the Willie Colon signing very much. I also liked letting Matt Slauson bring his weak run blocking to Chicago and the lack of interest in Brandon Moore. But the Jets are hardly set at the guard position, even if the rumored Jake Scott signing goes through. Colon, Scott, and Vladimir Ducasse is not an ideal trio, especially considering the injury history of Colon and Scott. I am 100% against the team drafting Warmack or Cooper with the #9 pick, but it’s clear a guard needs to be drafted in the early rounds.
BUY: Defensive Line – Yes, the team lost Mike DeVito and Sione Po’uha this offseason, but I actually view those as positives. Po’uha suffered a back injury in camp last year and was unable to regain his old form all season. Unfortunately, aging 330 pound men with back injuries usually don’t bounce back too well. DeVito is a fan favorite and was a solid player here for years, but there was no way the Jets could give him the same money Kansas City did, and more importantly, his departure paves the way for future stud Quinton Coples to become “the man” at the defensive end spot opposite current stud Muhammad WIlkerson. Inside, Kenrick Ellis will take over the starting nose tackle job, and I’m very excited to see what he can do as a starter. Splitting the reps with him will be former Charger Antonio Garay, who is a very solid player. Yes, the team could use some depth at defensive end, but that’s hardly a high priority, and the defensive line looks pretty set.
SELL: Outside Linebackers – I loved the Antwan Barnes signing, and I think Rex Ryan can use him in a variety of ways to get the most out of him. Unfortunately, he’s more of a part-time pass rusher rather than a 3-down player, so Idzik has some serious work to do here. Even more unfortunately, the only full-time calibre player on the roster now is Garrett McIntyre, and that’s more of an indictment on the depth at the position than it is a compliment to McIntyre. I have come around on Garrett and think he can be a useful player in a platoon, but if he’s your best player at the position, something is seriously wrong. Ricky Sapp is also still around and will be given a chance to earn some playing time, but it’s looking more and more like Sapp is going to be a constant tease who makes you think he’s about to put it all together, then suffers some sort of injury and leaves you saying “Whatever happened to that Sapp guy?”. I am pulling for him though, because we can never have enough pass rushers.
As you can see, the depth — and talent — at this position is seriously lacking, which is why I think OLB is the position the Jets MUST address with the #9 pick. Adding a fierce pass rusher to the mix with Barnes, Coples, and Wilkerson turns a team that had no pass rush at all into a pretty formidable group. For depth, I hate to say it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the team brought Calvin Pace back on a minimum-type 1-year contract to be a part-time player and help against the run.
SELL: Safety – Obviously this is a major sell at this point because there are currently ZERO safeties on the roster that have started an NFL game before. Both of last season’s starters have signed elsewhere, and Eric Smith is presumably making the rounds in the CFL trying to get signed. Josh Bush and Antonio Allen are the only holdovers, so it’s clear the position needs to be addressed. The Jets had Dawan Landry in for a visit, and signing a veteran such as him would be a huge step forward. In fact, I’d like to see the team sign two veterans and then use a 2nd or 3rd round pick to bolster the position as well.