It feels like there are only about two teams that aren’t linked to a wide receiver in the first round, even if it’s just through the possibility of either a reach, or a lucky tumble. That speaks to the depth of this year’s wide receiver talent pool, with at least four wideouts likely set to be selected on April 26.
But now we’ve arrived at the first NFL outpost where drafting a WR is more than just a luxury, it’s arguably a necessity. As always, though, the price and value has to be right for the New York Jets in their No. 16 hole directly in the middle of the opening round. We discussed the Jets’ draft outlook with Brian Bassett from The Jets Blog, and he thinks GM Mike Tannenbaum will be focused on one name, and one name only if he intends to draft a wide receiver.
1. Plaxico Burress is gone, and Santonio Holmes took a step back both on the field and in the locker room last year. Is a wide receiver the primary first-round target?
I think that the Jets might entertain drafting a WR, but I think it will wholly depend on if Michael Floyd is still available. If not, they’re not going to force it.
Holmes proved last year that he needs a competent complement to take pressure off of him, as he’s more of a 1A than a true No. 1 receiver. The rumor last week was that the Jets might look at reuniting with free agent Braylon Edwards, and if that’s true I think the Jets will be slower to pull the trigger on a first-round wide receiver when there are other needs for this team.
2. Another strong first-round possibility is an outside linebacker to help a struggling pass rush. Is that a wise early move for Tannenbaum, or should he wait during what should be a deep draft for pass rushers?
Rex Ryan has always gotten by with less while on the Jets, and I fully believe that adding a top pass-rusher through the draft could put this defense into hyperdrive over the next few years. The Jets have been linked to and shown interest in Courtney Upshaw and Melvin Ingram. Look for them to try to draft a player out of a big-time SEC school if possible.
3. Safety is also an area of need. If Mark Barron is available, will his name be called?
I do think that Barron would be a nice fit for the Jets in the short term since they are so lacking at the safety spot, and were beaten badly by teams that feature outstanding pass-catching TEs over the last few years. Analysts seem to agree that over the long-term, Barron is a strong safety, rather than a free safety. So over the course of Barron’s (projected) career with the Jets, the team would need to go back to square one and address the free safety spot again, sooner or later.
4. What about a running back later on. Will the Jets be among the teams searching for running back depth in the middle rounds? Or are they content with Joe McKnight playing behind Shonn Greene?
Unless the Jets were to take Trent Richardson, I think they would be very hesitant to take a running back until maybe very late in the draft. Over the past four years they’ve drafted three running backs and a fullback. If the Jets were to draft another back, it would basically be an indication that Bilal Powell (whom they drafted just last year) has no role on this team moving forward.
5. Any other needs you’d like to see addressed?
Right tackle. Wayne Hunter was a disaster last year, and once Nick Mangold returned to the lineup, Hunter’s play was the single largest drag on the overall offense. They drafted Vlad Ducassee in the second round of 2010, and while he’s extremely talented physically, he hasn’t shown enough ability to be a starter in the league to date. With left tackle the domain of D’Brickashaw Ferguson, there’s not an immediate need to find someone who could slide to the left tackle spot from right tackle, so the Jets would be wise to wait until Day Two of the draft to find an appropriate player they could plug in as a starter in their rookie year.