New York Jets: Safety Needs Multiple Player Solution

The New York Jets current depth chart at safety needs more than one player added to it

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.

Check out TOJ’s selection for the Jets in the Zone Blitz Mock Draft

TOJ New York Jets Mock Draft 2.0

TOJ rounds up all the recent mock drafts and gives his selection for who the New York Jets will be taking with the 16th pick in the draft

The NFL Draft is now 13 days away. Here is an updated look at what multiple mock drafts have the New York Jets doing with the number 16 pick in the first round, along with our current projection. Why look at the TOJ projection?…Because we were right the past two years –

Kyle Wilson

Muhammad Wilkerson (#2 in the 12 pack)

Don Banks, Sports Illustrated – Courtney Upshaw, Outside Linebacker, Alabama

Charles Davis, – Dont’a Hightower, Inside Linebacker, Alabama

Albert Breer, – Whitney Mercilus, Defensive End/Outside Linebacker, Illinois

Todd McShay, ESPN – Chandler Jones, Outside Linebacker, Syracuse

Rob Rang, CBS – Whitney Mercilus, Defensive End/Outside Linebacker, Illinois

DrafTek – Courtney Upshaw, Outside Linebacker, Alabama

TOJ – Melvin Ingram, Outside Linebacker, South Carolina

Analysis – A few general trends since the middle of last week – Courtney Upshaw appears to be falling to the point that he will definitely be available at number sixteen but there is a feeling the New York Jets could pass on him. We have written about our concerns on Upshaw here before. The Jets need an explosive pass rusher and while Upshaw should turn out to be a solid pro, he could be too much in the mold of Calvin Pace. He will stop the run, set the edge but never be a consistent double digit sack guy.

On the other hand, safety Mark Barron is climbing the boards and it is being speculated he won’t get past Dallas at #14. Personally, I’d prefer Barron to Upshaw at #16 if both remain available but that is seemingly less likely every day. Wide receiver Michael Floyd isn’t expected to get out of the top ten and it’d be a big surprise if the Jets had a shot at him if they stay put.

Personally, I am buying into the Jets professed love of Ingram. The reports from his Pro Day were that they were the most smitten with him and that Jacksonville isn’t interested in him at #7, where most people had him projected to go. Assuming Miami takes Ryan Tannehill at #8, it would seem the Jets could trade up to #9 to get their hands on him. According to the draft board, they’d have to give up their second round pick but would likely get a fourth rounder back.

I think Mike Tannenbaum and the Jets front office have had a quiet, somewhat confusing off-season. From his past history, Tannenbaum loves to trade up and make a splash to get players the team highly desires. He did it for Darrelle Revis, David Harris, Mark Sanchez, Shonn Greene, and Dustin Keller. Rex Ryan sees Ingram as Adalius Thomas 2.0. An explosive player who can line up at any spot in the front seven. This is a player that the Jets don’t just want, it is a player that they need. I say they swing the deal and then look to target safety Markelle Martin with their third round pick.

At the moment, here are my projections for the Jets first round pick in descending order of likelihood:

5. Stay Put and Take Michael Floyd – I highly, highly doubt he falls to #16 but if he does, the Jets will strongly consider him especially if they miss out on Ingram and Barron.

4. Trade Back For Andre Branch or Chandler Jones – If the Jets trade back into the mid to late 20s, they could target one of these pass rushers. Tannenbaum rarely trades back but if he can’t move up for Ingram and isn’t sold on Upshaw, this could make the most sense.

3. Stay Put and Take Courtney Upshaw – Seemingly less likely by the day, the Jets may actually even be able to trade back 4 or 5 spots and still take him.

2. Stay Put or Trade Up A Few Spots For Mark Barron – If Barron gets to 16, I think the Jets will take him. If they miss out on trading up for Ingram, they could look to leapfrog Dallas to take Barron.

1. Trade Up For Melvin Ingram – This will be a headline grabbing move that actually makes football sense.

New York Jets: 2nd and 3rd Round Safety and Linebacker Prospects

A run down of outside linebackers and safeties the New York Jets could target with their 2nd or 3rd round pick

The New York Jets are in need of both an outside linebacker and a safety. Unfortunately, both holes won’t be filled with the 16th pick unless the team trades down and acquires more picks later in the draft, although they will be selecting from a decreased pool of talent if they choose that route. Fortunately, the Jets also have the 47th and 77th pick in the draft to address whatever they don’t address in round one. Here is a look at a few players they could target either at safety or outside linebacker:

Harrison Smith, Safety, Notre Dame – Opinions vary widely of him, with some seeing Smith as a borderline first round pick and others thinking he looks more like a third or fourth round prospect, Smith is versatile enough to play in the box and off the ball in the center field role. As a junior he had 7 interceptions but followed up last year with zero despite having 10 pass break ups. He performed well at the combine which has seemed to stabilize his stock as a second round pick. Smith was a two year captain at Notre Dame.

Andre Branch, OLB, Clemson – The Jets have shown a good amount of interest in Branch, who could sneak into the bottom of the first round which means they may have to trade up from 44 to grab him. Last season he had 10.5 sacks, with 4 coming in a single game against Virginia Tech. Branch had a strong combine and pro day, showing good speed and explosiveness. There is some concern about him transitioning into a full time outside linebacker but in the Jets defense, he will get to put his hand in the dirt in some pass rushing situations.

George Iloka, Safety, Boise State – He has good size (6’4, 225 pounds) but many of the pre-draft concerns are about his pass coverage skills and stiffness in his hips, which would be an issue since the Jets signed their inside the box safety in LaRon Landry. Iloka didn’t record any interceptions last season and had a couple of shouting matches with coaches on the sideline.

Markelle Martin, Safety, Oklahoma State – Considered a pure free safety. In 2010 he won the Alamo Bowl MVP thanks to a 62 yard interception return for a touchdown and breaking up two other passes. Last season, he had 74 tackles, 11 pass break ups but zero interceptions. Martin also recently had a pinched nerve in his knee which made him miss working out at the NFL Combine. He is 6-1, 207 pounds.

Vinny Curry, Outside Linebacker, Marshall – He racked up 11 sacks last season, and was able to run a 4.64 at his Pro Day despite being 266 pounds. There has been some chatter about him sneaking in the first round because of his versatility to play both in a 4-3 and 3-4 system. Obviously, the Jets seek versatile players because of their high number of personnel packages. He could end up producing at the same level of a player like Courtney Upshaw despite going lower in the draft.

Ronnell Lewis, Outside Linebacker, Oklahoma – Starting to receive a good amount of hype as a great value pick in the second round. Lewis is a solid all-around player who was nicknamed “The Hammer” by his teammates…sounds like the type of player Rex Ryan would be interested in. Last season he had 59 tackles, 5.5 sacks and 13 tackles for a loss. Lewis has had injury issues in the past with his back and knee.

Trumaine Johnson, Safety, Montana – He has good physical skills, running a 4.5 forty at 6-2, 204 pounds and performed well at the combine. The Jets might be a little gun shy about taking a FCS level player after seeing how Vladimir Ducasse has developed but if coached up properly, he was the ability to turn into a very good player in time. Last season he had two interceptions and played well against Tennessee with 7 tackles, a pass break up and a forced fumble.

Bruce Irvin, Outside Linebacker, West Virginia – Irvin could be Aaron Maybin 2.0, at 245 pounds and with a ton of speed to get after the passer. But what else can be bring to the defense along with situational pass rushing? I am not sure you could play him and Maybin at the same time. He record 8.5 sacks last year after having 14 the year before.