Happy Super Bowl day everyone! While many are looking forward to the food, drinks, commercials (and hopefully the actual game), I am officially in full off-season mode. With the coaching staff and much of the front office locked in, the Jets will begin to map out their free agency and NFL draft plans. So, let’s get into a brief preview of how it might play out…
Free Agency Strategy
The Jets will spend this year, that much we know. Although he could easily be kept under team control thanks to the franchise tag, I think the Jets will lock up Mo Wilkerson this off-season.
As for the open market, I’m expecting them to make a big push for 1 of free safety Devin McCourty or cornerback Byron Maxwell.
It’s possible that they won’t hit the open market, which would leave tier two options such as cornerbacks Kareem Jackson and Buster Skrine, or safeties Rahim Moore and Antrel Rolle. While none of these options bring star power to the team, they are players that could step in and hold starting roles on the back end of the defense.
On the offensive side of the ball they should be looking to add a solid blocking tight end that can play next to right tackle Breno Giacomini. Jermaine Greshman would be the key target here, who can also help the red zone offense (averages about 5 touchdowns per year).
The quarterback market is bare bones this year. If Sam Bradford is released by the Rams, he is the guy that the Jets should take a shot on. Due to familiarity (and some success) with Chan Gailey, Tyler Thigpen will be in play as a back up option.
NFL Draft Strategy
The best case scenario for the Jets would be for a team to go all in on acquiring their 6th overall pick. For example, if the Eagles wanted to move up the Jets could acquire a haul of picks. The value of their 6th overall selection is worth Philadelphia’s 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th picks, just to give a brief overview of how valuable a top ten pick is. Draft Countdown has a great trade value chart for these scenarios.
If they cannot move the pick, the Jets strategy most likely focuses on a very talented position group in this class: edge rusher.
Florida’s Dante Fowler and Nebraska’s Randy Gregory are the two names to keep an eye on here. Another option would be to grab a plug and play offensive lineman such as LSU’s La’el Collins, who could dominate at guard from day one and eventually be a franchise left tackle.
The vital part of the draft for the Jets will be on day 2, where they need to maximize the value of their selections and take the best available talent on the board. A few names to keep an eye on in round 2 are Louisville edge rusher Lorenzo Mauldin, ECU wide receiver Justin Hardy, LSU cornerback Jalen Collins and USC wide receiver Nelson Agholor.
The best scenario for the Jets here is that a big target such as Arizona State’s Jaelen Strong or West Virginia’s Kevin White fall to them, but I expect both to be off the board by the end of round 1.
Round 3 is a wild card, but the linebacker group needs an infusion of youth that possesses adequate speed to both cover and stop the run at the next level. Assuming Todd Bowles will implement both a 3-4 and 4-3 in his defense, a player like LSU’s Kwon Alexander could excel as a 4-3 weakside linebacker.
On the offensive side of the ball, Duke guard Laken Tomlinson is another key name to watch out for. He had an impressive week at the Senior Bowl displaying a lot of raw power and a high IQ in pass protection.
Obviously this is just one of a million possible scenario’s for the Jets in the 2015 NFL Draft, but keep these names on your radar as all would make a lot of sense for this depleted roster. Give me your thoughts in the comment section below or reach me on Twitter at @CRogers_NFL, where I cover the NFL Draft 24/7/365.