The New York Jets have had a busy off-season. They’ve clearly taken a win-now approach with the many big veteran free agents they’ve brought in, a group headlined by Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie 2.0 as well as Brandon Marshall. The moves they’ve made have generally been well-received across the league, but as a team coming off a 4-12 season and trying to catch the mighty defending champs in the AFC East, they still have a lot of work to do. Let’s look at those holes and how the Jets might address them in upcoming 2015 NFL Draft:
No surprise here, the Jets still need a quarterback. In today’s NFL, no matter how stout your defense or how punishing your running game, without a solid quarterback, you’ve lost before the season even begins. Either Ryan Fitzpatrick or Geno Smith is slotted to be the Jets starting quarterback on opening day, but that simply won’t cut it.
Player to watch: Oregon’s Marcus Mariota. Most mock drafts have the Jets taking Mariota with the 6th overall pick, but those mocks don’t factor in trades. Many around the league are starting to seriously doubt that Mariota will be available once the 6th pick rolls around as one team or another will trade up for him.
The backfield is formidable with new signees Revis, Cromartie, Skrine, and Gilchrist, but the linebacking core still needs works, specially on the outside. Quinton Coples is a fine option at one end, but he’s far from enough. The Jets picked up the options of Jason Babin and Calvin Pace but neither of them are guaranteed to make the 53 man roster. If the Jets don’t or can’t take Mariota with the 6th overall pick, look for them to address their pass rush needs.
Players to watch: Missouri’s Shane Ray, Nebraska’s Randy Gregory, and Kentucky’s Bud Dupree.
The Jets have two good starters at the tackle position in D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Breno Giacomini. What they need is a swing tackle who can back both those guys up and provide depth on the O-line. Ferguson has been a franchise cornerstone for the past decade, but he’s getting up there in age; the Jets would do well to grab someone in the 3rd to 5th round who they can start to groom as his replacement.
Players to watch: Oklahoma’s Daryl Williams, Texas A&M’s Cedric Ogbuehi, and Penn State’s Donovan Smith.
Bringing back Bilal Powell was a smart move by new GM Mike Maccagnan. As the team’s third-down/pass-protection back last year, Powell played an important role, but will need to take on more responsibility after the departure of Chris Johnson. Chris Ivory is still the number 1 option, but the Jets could certainly use a player with more quickness and more overall talent.
Player to watched: Georgia’s Todd Gurley. It’s unlikely a running back will go this high in the draft, but if Mariota isn’t there and the Jets don’t feel like any of the pass rushers are the right fit, taking the best back in the draft with their first round pick wouldn’t be the worst move.