Draft Preview: 9. New York Jets

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Rex Ryan will slobber all over Barkevious Mingo. Maybe literally.

Usually, calling the New York Jets a flaming, toxic mess is like saying that being punched straight to the nose isn’t enjoyable, or that pigeons are the mosquitoes of the bird kingdom. An obvious fact will always remain an obvious fact.

But the purging has begun under new general manager John Idzik, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Three safeties were cut (Eric Smith, Yeremiah Bell, and LaRon Landry, with Dawan Landry added), while Bart Scott was jettisoned too, and Mike DeVito was allowed to walk. To rebuild it, you must first destroy it.

That destruction will soon continue with the dismissal of Tim Tebow, the most irrelevant and redundant player on the roster, and at that point the quarterback competition will begin in earnest between Mark Sanchez and David Garrard. But potentially the most important offseason move has yet to come.

You may have heard this Darrelle Revis trade talk, yes? We only write about it around these parts three times daily. If he’s traded, will the Jets’ early focus shift to cornerback? Since I have long-honed the fine journalistic skill of asking the tough question first, that’s how I led of our latest draft dive into questions followed by answers with Scott Salmon from Gang Green Nation,and Brian Bassett from The Jets Blog.

1. If a Darrelle Revis trade is completed, or even if it continues to be very close to happening on draft day, will the Jets either trade up for Dee Milliner, or take him if he falls?

Salmon: I don’t believe the Jets will take Milliner, even if they trade Revis. Here’s why: last season, the Jets had the No. 2 pass defense with first rounders in Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson while Revis was injured. A slot-corner would therefore be the most important addition, and it would be a waste considering all of their other holes to take Milliner at No. 9 (or trade up for him) at arguably their strongest position group on the field.

Bassett: Oh, did I miss that story?! While it seems like a logical step for both teams to take, it sure seems like both teams are locked in a staring contest. As far as Milliner he might well be available to the Jets at No. 9 but might not get much past that as Tennessee needs corners and other teams like the Falcons might then make a move to go up and get a player to fit their scheme like Milliner. Last year proved that the Jets can still field a competent secondary without Revis with Cromartie, Wilson, Lankster and Trufant … but remember that they did so with durable veteran Yeremiah Bell and 2012 Pro-Bowler LaRon Landry who are both gone. Milliner might not be the perfect fit for Rex Ryan (he loves pure man-coverage corners) but he has a wide skill set at the spot and will likely be a very versatile player in the NFL. I would expect the Jets to look to bolster their secondary a little further on by grabbing a safety on Day Two or a cornerback early on Day Three.

2. After they recorded only 30 sacks last year, a pass rusher has been a widely mocked first-round pick for the Jets, even though they’ve spent a top pick on a defensive lineman in two straight drafts. If that’s the chosen direction, who’s the best fit? Ziggy Anash’s athleticism could be hard to pass on if he’s still on the board.

Salmon: There have been a number of reports that Rex Ryan is in love with Barkevious Mingo, who might be the most explosive athlete in the draft. If he’s put in space and allowed to pin his ears back, he could be dynamic behind Muhammad Wilkerson and Quinton Coples. Ansah is another option, and he could develop into one of the best linemen in the league under Ryan and DL Coach Karl Dunbar. Jarvis Jones is always a possibility, but the team doesn’t seem to have much interest in him, and his medical issues are always a concern.

Bassett: Agreed, but Ansah looks to be long gone … it’s been amazing to see him as a late first rounder coming into the Senior Bowl and Combine now shoot to a top ten pick.  Dion Jordan is another interesting name, but I would expect both to be gone by the seventh pick. The name that seems to keep coming up for the Jets is Barkevious Mingo, who looks to be a relentless pass-rusher and would possess the right temperament to succeed in a Ryan system. I’ve argued that the Jets might not feel the need to take one of the top ten guys and wait a round or two more because whoever plays at the rush-end spot for the Jets will get the benefit of having an opposing offensive line’s attention diverted by Muhammad Wilkerson (who ranked out only behind JJ Watt as 3-4 DEs in 2012) and upcoming star Quinton Coples.

3. This draft should be top-heavy with offensive line talent. One of the top guards (Chance Warmack or Johnathan Cooper) will likely be available at No. 9. Should they be pursued as an upgrade over Vladimir Ducasse? Or are there greater needs elsewhere?

Salmon: Many people consider guard to be the most pressing issue, so Warmack/Cooper could be a good fit at No. 9 considering how dominant they are. While I would be happy to see Warmack drafted there, I think the Jets may be better off taking Larry Warford or Brian Winters, among other guards, later in the draft to maximize positional value.

Bassett: Ummm … YES!!!! The Jets signed former Steeler OL Willie Colon and it’s assumed that Colon will start at one of the guard spots.  The question is what they will do with the other. If the Jets were to draft a player like Warmack or Cooper in the first or Warford in the second it would immediately upgrade an already decent unit. The other line of thinking is that should one of the tackles (most notably Lane Johnson) slip to the ninth pick, the Jets might be tempted to draft a tackle and pinch last year’s RT Austin Howard inside. I think that move would also immediately upgrade the the line at two spots instead of just one.

4. When should a safety be drafted? There’s a deep talent pool at the position this year. The ninth overall pick may be a little too early for Kenny Vaccaro, and instead John Idzik could wait on Jonathan Crypien or Eric Reid in the second round.

Salmon: I think you’re exactly right. Cyprien and Reid are good possibilities. Other players of interest are Matt Elam, D.J. Swearinger (who has visited the team), Shamarko Thomas, Baccari Rambo, Phillip Thomas (coached by DB Coach Tim McDonald), T.J. McDonald (son of Coach McDonald), and Duke Williams. There’s an incredible amount of depth here, so if the Jets don’t start looking at safeties until the fifth round, they should still be able to get some good players.

Bassett: You are reading my mind based on some of my earlier comments! To be sure, this is a deep pool.  The Jets have signed LaRon’s brother, Dawan Landry, who is a better run-stuffing safety and the other spot is unsettled, but assumed to be in the hands of 2012 sixth rounder Josh Bush for now. This class has so many good coverage players, but the name that keeps surfacing in relation to the Jets is South Carolina’s Swearinger, who might be available in the third round.

5. Will a quarterback be drafted early? Projections are still somewhat scattered on Geno Smith, but he seems unlikely to fall as far as ninth, and that’s too early for Matt Barkley. Maybe Mike Glennon in the second round?

Salmon: It sounds as if the Jets have no interest in drafting a quarterback early, possibly because of the uncertainty of Rex Ryan’s job and the generally “weak” quarterback class. There’s been some interest in Glennon, and E.J. Manuel as well. The Jets have hosted Zac Dysert, and it seems they’re particularly interested in.

Bonus only Bassett question: What other needs should be addressed? There’s been some speculation about a wide receiver being selected early to both complement Santonio Holmes and provide support for Mark Sanchez, assuming he wins the job. The Jets are among the teams Tavon Austin has visited…

Austin would be an interesting prospect and I think he’s an explosive player, but worry that drafting him too high in an as-of-yet unbaked offensive system might be trouble .. akin to the Dolphins taking Ted Ginn back in 2007 without the supporting cast around him versus what the Vikings did in 2009 when they took Percy Harvin late in the first and then went out and got Brett Favre to get him the ball.  Now, could the Jets give Austin everything he needs, most notably at the QB spot, in 2014 with a potential bumper crop of QBs with names like Teddy Bridgwater, Johnny Manziel, Tajh Boyd and AJ McCarron?  Absolutely.

The tight end spot is another big one for the Jets.  WR Jeremy Kerley has proven himself to be a solid slot receiver, so a starting in-line tight end who is an excellent blocker (and save the Jets using a very predictable backup tackle as a tight end) and who also has the ability to consistently catch passes is something that’s been missing for the Jets since at least 2008

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