The New York Jets put all of their eggs in the Geno Smith basket in 2013. Now there are whispers they might want to dump them all out. Understandably, Rex Ryan and co. are a little unsure of Smith heading into 2014, after a very up and down rookie campaign.
However, rather than spend another early round draft pick on a passer, it’s likely the team will let veteran Michael Vick push him during the preseason. If Smith responds, he just might be the guy they thought they were drafting. If not, they’ll hope Vick can still play at a high level and doesn’t break into a million tiny pieces.
While quarterback is definitely a need on paper, it looks like wide receiver, tight end and landing a stud corner have taken over as chief needs. For those and more, let’s breakdown the New York Jets team needs as we prepare for May 8th’s draft:
Offensive needs: TE, WR, OL
Regardless of whether or not Geno Smith is the answer at quarterback, the Jets need more offensive weapons. Jeff Cumberland is back, but that’s not very exciting, nor was Kellen Winslow last year. New York needs a tight end. They may have to cross their fingers for someone like North Carolina’s Eric Ebron to fall to them, but that would just be the tops. Ebron not only has great size and elite athleticism for the position, but he’s also a willing and capable blocker. He’d be a massive upgrade and would really open up the offense. Since he’s likely to be gone by the time Gang Green picks for the first time in the first round, though, they might set their sights on the less athletic but equally potent Jace Amaro. Washington’s Austin Seferian-Jenkins is a third option that should be available somewhere in round two. He lacks polish, but is a freak and would be just as good of an addition as Ebron or Amaro.
Whether or not the Jets feel they need a tight end, let’s hope they know they can’t stop at Eric Decker when it comes to wide receiver. Decker was a terrific add, but they need more help. Releasing Santonio Holmes was the right move, but there’s really no such thing as addition by subtraction. They actually need more talent. Stephen Hill is a bust and a half, too, so unless he magically knows how to run routes and look like a real NFL receiver, they need to pull the plug. That should mean chasing down a receiver in the first or second round. Early whispers have it being Florida State’s Kelvin Benjamin, and while they’re at risk of drafting Stephen Hill 2.0 here due to his raw ability, Benjamin actually looks way more like a NFL ready player. He has better ball skills and was awesome in 2013. He’s also faced really solid competition, so we know the kid can ball. If Benjamin isn’t there, the Jets will hope Marqise Lee or Mike Evans fall (even though they won’t). Someone like Brandin Cooks could be a though in round two, but his stock is also on the rise and he might be gone, too.
While the Jets mostly need help in their passing game, they need to beef up their offensive line. They could use help both at guard and tackle, but it’s unlikely they go after either in the early rounds. Look for them to grab some bodies for competition later in the draft.
Defensive needs: CB, S, LB
Antonio Cromartie was released and never replaced, while Kyle Wilson looks to be merely a slot corner. That means the Jets need a new starting cornerback and possibly even a nickel back if they’ve grown bored of Wilson. If they don’t jump all over a tight end or wide receiver early, corner is almost surely the third door they’d take a gander at. If they open it up, they could go after Darqueze Dennard or Justin Gilbert in round one, or hope someone like Marcus Roberson falls to them in round two. One way or another, they’ll need to bring in some talent at corner. Dee Milliner is on his way to becoming a special player, but he can’t do it on his own.
Safety is also going to be a problem, as Ed Reed didn’t work out and Antonio Allen isn’t very good. I’m guessing they’ll look at safety in round two at the earliest, but if Calvin Pryor or Ha Ha Clinton-Dix are just sitting there in round one, they’ll certainly have to think about drafting one of them. In round two or three, they could aim for guys like Craig Loston or LaMarcus Joyner.
New York needs to think about help on the inside and outside of their linebacking corps. They brought back Calvin Pace, but he’s aging, so they might want to consider some new talent for the outside of their pass rush. The bigger issue is probably inside, though, as they have coverage issues and David Harris seemed to lose some steam. Really, New York still hasn’t completely found a replacement for Bart Scott. There is still hope Demario Davis an be that, but they still need someone next to him. With Harris aging, they may look at someone like Chris Borland in round two.
New York still has a strong defense and even with some aging pieces and a few holes, they should once again be the backbone of a tough, hard-nosed team in 2013. Ultimately, their success is largely going to hang on what happens under center.
*Photo Credit – Marianne O’Leary via Wiki Commons.