It all came tumbling down for the Jets in 2012 as they turned in their first losing season under Rex Ryan thanks to poor quarterback play, injuries to two of their most talented players and the power of the Buttfumble. There’s been a partial purge this offseason as General Manager Mike Tannenbaum and several veteran defenders were cut loose and any worthwhile free agent from last year’s team signed elsewhere. Cornerback Darrelle Revis may be the next to go and the draft will be the Jets’ first chance to get started on building something out of the rubble left behind.
Quarterback: You can’t talk about the Jets’ needs and not put quarterback front and center. Mark Sanchez’s inability to stop handing the ball to the other team has left the team without a sturdy hand on the rudder of the offense and neither David Garrard nor Greg McElroy offer much help as a better solution for the future. Tim Tebow’s still on the roster as well, although his presence remains as baffling as it has since the moment he first arrived in town.
The problem with taking a quarterback this year is that Rex Ryan is a lame duck head coach and the team may be moving in a different direction offensively if they wind up parting ways with Ryan after the 2013 season. While General Manager John Idzik will still be around, the next coach might want something different than current offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg. With this year’s class offering little in the way of certainty at quarterback, it would be surprising to see the Jets go that route in the first round when they have a need for talent in every corner of the roster. Reaching for a franchise guy and missing again would keep any rebuilding efforts from gaining much traction.
Pass Rusher: The Jets added a couple of players on the defensive line in the last two years in Muhammad Wilkerson and Quinton Coples, but they desperately need someone who can create pressure off the edge. Calvin Pace and Bryan Thomas are both gone, so outside linebacker would seem to be the best place to find it even with Antwan Barnes signed this offseason. Several candidates should be on the board when the Jets make their selection, including Ziggy Ansah of BYU and Barkevious Mingo of LSU, and grabbing one would put some teeth back into a defense that has only been able to create pressure through smoke and mirrors recently.
Wide Receiver/Tight End: Santonio Holmes was out for almost the entire season and Dustin Keller was in and out of the lineup with injuries all year, leaving Sanchez and McElroy to throw to a motley crew of receivers. Jeremy Kerley is a useful slot piece and the Jets hope Stephen Hill will blossom, but Keller’s gone and Holmes’ status will be uncertain until he proves he can get back to previous levels. Tight end is barren, but the Jets need to find guys who can make plays at both spots and they probably can’t stop at one.
Safety: They lost LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell, both of whom played fairly well on one-year deals in 2012. Dawan Landry has been signed to help take his brother’s place, but the Jets could really use a long-term solution to a spot that’s never been a strength since Ryan came to town. T.J. McDonald of USC and Phillip Thomas of Fresno State are a couple of guys who will be available after the first day that could challenge for a starting job right away.
Offensive line: It’s hard to ground and pound when your offensive line doesn’t do much pounding. The Jets have lost both of their starting guards and Austin Howard wasn’t up to the task at right tackle, leaving the Jets with plenty of room to improve. Willie Colon will fill one of those spots, but the Jets still need to add younger players and increase the overall talent level of a group that fell off in 2012.