The New York Jets current depth chart at safety is almost as scary as their depth chart at right tackle. Right now their starters would be LaRon Landry who hasn’t played a full 16 games since 2008 and Eric Smith, who in comparison to Landry would be relied upon to be the primary coverage safety. The top two backups? Tracy Wilson who has never played a snap in the NFL and the recently signed DeAngelo Smith who didn’t play in the NFL last season.
The problems with this depth chart can’t be solved with one draft pick, especially if that pick comes in the second or third round. Unless the Jets draft Mark Barron in the first round, you can’t bank on your draft pick to walk in, immediately take over the starting role and keep it for the entire 16 games.
In a perfect world, Landry will play the full season at strong safety, your draft pick will learn the defense quickly and be a capable starter at free safety as a rookie and Eric Smith will provide the needed depth at both spots, performing in the situational role he has always thrived in. Yet, this isn’t a perfect world which is why the Jets are paying Landry on a week to week basis and went hard after Reggie Nelson to pair with him but unfortunately came up short.
As it stands now and on the assumption the Jets add a draft pick at safety, it is more than likely Landry will miss a few games leading to Smith being overextended as a starter again and a rookie, especially if it is a 2nd or 3rd rounder, being overextended as well.
The Jets are going to need more than one addition at the safety position. Jim Leonhard is a logical addition if his rehab continues to go well. If Barron is taken in the first round, he is starting from day one and Leonhard is a clear cut backup which is where he should start the season off. If the Jets end up with somebody like Harrison Smith, George Iloka, or Markelle Martin. They may need to add a better option than Leonhard, whether that is Yeremiah Bell or a player acquired via trade.
I also wouldn’t be surprised if the Jets looked to boost their depth by spending one of their 6th or 7th round picks on a safety. They are thin enough right now where you can justify taking two safeties in one draft.