With the NFL Draft approaching, we’re taking a team-by-team look at the needs of each club. Next up are the Jets, who come off a third straight year out of the playoffs. The 8-8 finish in 2013 was a bit better than expected, though, and the Jets have made some moves to address their often flailing offense. Now they have a league-high 12 picks to put to use toward making even more progress and we’ll look at the spots where they should be using them.
Wide Receiver: The addition of Eric Decker in free agency will be a big help, but it doesn’t make things whole at wideout. Whether Geno Smith or Michael Vick is doing the quarterbacking, the Jets need more help at the position.
They’ve been linked to several of the receivers expected to be available at No. 18 at one point or another in the last few weeks. LSU’s Odell Beckham, Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks, Florida State’s Kelvin Benjamin and USC’s Marqise Lee would all find immediate playing time with the Jets. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the team pick one receiver early and then find more competition at the position on the second and third days.
Cornerback: Any ideas about adding one of the top corners in free agency were stymied by price tags and/or the ambitions of other clubs, leaving the Jets to sign Dimitri Patterson. Patterson is good when healthy, but is rarely healthy so this is still an area of concern.
Dee Milliner came on as his rookie year progressed and the Jets may go back to the same well for Michigan State’s Darqueze Dennard or Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert. There are plenty of other options and the bounty of picks offers the Jets the opportunity to add more than one player to a stable that could use it.
Safety: The Jets have cycled a lot of safeties through the lineup in recent years, but none have had much staying power and it remains an area where the team could benefit from an upgrade in talent. The Jets took Milliner in the first round last year and could team him with Alabama teammate Ha Ha Clinton-Dix at No. 18.
Given the needs for receiving help and cornerbacks, it seems more likely that the Jets will add someone a bit later in the proceedings. Washington State’s Deone Buccanon and USC’s Dion Bailey offer two different options once the second day rolls around.
Tight End: Jeff Cumberland re-signed with the team and is a solid player, but the Jets could use a receiving threat to round out the position. Trading up would be the only way to get North Carolina’s Eric Ebron and isn’t impossible with so many picks, but Texas Tech’s Jace Amaro and Washington’s Austin Seferian-Jenkins are second-round possibilities.
Outside Linebacker: Calvin Pace is back with the team after a career-high 10 sacks last year, which both makes sense and makes you wonder what a top flight edge rusher could do with Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson attacking from the line. Pace and Quinton Coples would offer a rookie the chance to focus on a situational role and Rex Ryan’s creativity might make Stanford’s Trent Murphy or Texas’ Jackson Jeffcoat an interesting addition to the mix.
Guard: Willie Colon and Brian Winters, last year’s starters, both return but competition is never a bad thing. It’s especially useful here since Colon is a temporary solution and Winters hardly put the job on lockdown last season.