An extremely disappointing 5-11 campaign has left the Jets with numerous holes to fill come draft day. Glaring issues on both sides of the ball were exposed during the team’s many losses and must be addressed beginning with their No. 6 overall pick in the upcoming draft.
Like every team, the Jets will also endure the loss of free agents along with having to attempt to fill additional gaps left by players who did not perform well enough to remain a starter and those who will be nursing injuries at the start of next season. So let’s take a look at the team’s Top 5 needs heading into the 2017 season and who the team could select should they remain at the No. 6 spot
Most would probably begin this list at quarterback (arguably the most important position in all of professional sports), and a position in which the Jets have as much uncertainty as any team in the league. Another year of the Bryce Petty/Christian Hackenberg experiment must do in 2017 after the Jets spent a 4th and 2nd round pick on them respectively the past two drafts. The team simply cannot afford to spend another top pick on the position, especially without seeing what this tandem can do over the course of a full season.
The potential departure of all-time great C Nick Mangold and the failed experiment that was T Ryan Clady has left numerous holes on the offensive line. The Jets allowed 35 sacks in 2016, a number that will need to be significantly reduced if they expect either of the aforementioned young quarterbacks to have a real shot at success. If the Jets choose to spend their No. 6 overall pick on an offensive lineman, Alabama’s Cam Robinson is a battle-tested NFL ready tackle who could be poised to step in on opening day next season.
The Jets’ secondary got exposed badly this past season. There are few positives to take away from a unit that had highlight reel plays put up against them week in and week out. Rumors have begun to swirl that the aging Darrelle Revis could make the switch to safety next season, so that leaves both starting corner spots open for new faces in 2017.
The Jets allowed 47 touchdowns last season and a large portion of them were bombs over the top of the defense with opposing receivers running free right into the end zone. The Jets need quickness and versatility in their secondary after their abysmal performance last season. Another Alabama prospect, Marlon Humphrey, could be the antidote in the first round, but Jets fans will have to keep their fingers crossed he does not turn into the next Dee Milliner.
It seems odd that this position would even make the list at all after what the team’s defensive line looked like on paper heading into this past season. But with everyone not named Leonard Williams vastly underperforming, the team could use someone who can get to the quarterback with regularity in 2017 after posting only 27 total sacks as a defense.
Texas A&M’s Myles Garrett is widely regarded as the best overall prospect in this class, and he likely won’t be there when the Jets pick sixth. Trading up to get him would not be wise either because of the numerous holes to fill elsewhere on the roster. An interesting name to keep an eye on here would be Tennessee’s Derek Barnett. Barnett brings a physical presence and ability to finish plays that the Jets did not get from their edge rushers last season. Let’s add another Alabama prospect into this article: Outside linebacker Tim Williams could be a natural fit as an edge rusher.
It is becoming clearer after each game that Calvin Pryor is not the solution at safety. The hard-hitting Louisville product is not failing for lack of effort, rather for his lack of ability in coverage situations. Pryor could be a valuable member of the team as a change of pace type player, but not as an every down member of the unit. Rontez Miles is also not a player equipped to handle starting duties, although he is a valuable member of the special teams unit.
Similarly to cornerback, the Jets need an athletic and quick safety roaming their backfield. Ohio State’s Malik Hooker would be a nice fit here. Although he only has one starting season under his belt, it is clear he is ready to assume a starting role at the next level. He also grades out nicely to fit that No. 6 spot the Jets currently occupy. LSU’s Jamal Adams also could be a natural fit and might be the most talented player at his position.
Last year’s first-round pick, Darron Lee, showed flashes in his rookie year. Lee has the making of a quality NFL linebacker, but he also got exposed at times particularly when it came to mastering the nuances of the position. The Jets could use their first-round pick this year to give Lee some help, as well as another building block piece to a unit that vastly underperformed in 2016. Veteran leader David Harris may also be out the door this offseason, and the Jets will need to fill the void he leaves behind immediately.
Going to the well a fourth time here may seem dicey, but another Alabama product could be seen wearing green and white in 2017. Reuben Foster is another standout from a defensive unit that lead the nation in almost every collegiate category, including overall domination. Foster’s ability to make open-field tackles in particular could be very enticing for the Jets, who saw their fair share of whiffs last year.