EA: John Idizk will address needs in free agency and the Jets have flexibility heading into the new league year. And with maneuverability comes possibility. Idzik has said the Jets will improve the skill position talent and I think that will start well before the draft. Will any of the impending UFA WRs — Jeremey Maclin, Eric Decker, James Jones, etc… — be in play?
As we sit here today, I wouldn't be comfortable predicting that even one RB will be taken in the first round. There are some decent quarterbacks out there, but I don't know if any of these prospects would have a grade higher than Geno Smith had at this point last year.
You hear some good things about a pair of TEs: Eric Ebron, North Carolina, and Jace Amaro, Texas Tech. But I would say the most talent remaining will be at the wide receiver position. Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans likely will be gone, but there could be a bunch of interesting prospects available at No. 18 including USC's Marqise Lee, LSU's Jarvis Landry & Odell Beckham, Florida State's Kelvin Benjamin, Penn State's Allen Robinson and Oregon State's Brandin Cooks. With all the underclassmen coming out, this appears to be a deep wide receiver class.
EA: No. It is all about getting a ticket to the dance, so the goal has to be the postseason.
The Arizona Cardinals just won 10 games and they were spectators this postseason. In Rex Ryan's first season as head coach, the Green & White earned a playoff berth with nine victories. Then they advanced to the AFC Championship Game and actually held a 17-6 lead over the Colts late in the first half before Peyton Manning kicked it into overdrive.
And while the Chargers gained the AFC's No. 6 seed in 2013, good fortune smiled on them in that regular season finale against the Chiefs. If a number of strange occurences don't happen in SoCal on Dec. 29, then the Steelers get in with an 8-8 record.
The NFC is a better conference than the AFC. You cannot start a Power Rakings without the Seahawks in the top spot followed by the 49ers. I see a lot of opportunity out there in the AFC. As good as Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are, both are in the home stretch of their careers. Brady turns 37 in August and Manning turn 38 in March. Who in the AFC scares you right now?
The Jets would benefit from their division getting stronger this offseason. Go right to the Cardinals example and you see a 2-4 NFCW mark while battling those nasties, but an 8-2 record everywhere else. Give the Patriots a lot of credit for dominating the AFCE since 2001, but the Bills, the Dolphins and the Jets — at times — haven't held up to their end of the bargain. The football being played inside this division has to get better.
EA: While Byrd is set to be an unrestricted free agent, the Bills may elect to place the franchise tag on him once again and make sure he remains in Western New York. Byrd is an excellent football player and he is inarguably one of the top three of four safeties in the NFL (I would be hard-pressed to pick against Earl Thomas though. I don't think you have a Legion of Boom without the Earl of Seattle.) A three-time All-Pro, Byrd is a ballhawk with great instincts. He has 22 career picks and the dude is a sound tackler.
If Byrd hits the market, how much is a club willing to offer him? Two years ago, the Chargers reportedly gave Eric Weddle five years for $40 million with $19 million being guaranteed. The Jets need depth too and money can go quick if you invest in Byrd and say one of these top receivers early in free agency.
Look how the 'Hawks were made. They built that secondary through the draft as three of the four starters were fourth-round picks or lower. I think the Jets are going to be busy in free agency, but John Idzik will be prudent with Woody Johnson's money.
Is it fun for a fan to think about Byrd in a Jets uniform and patrolling the secondary for Rex Ryan and Dennis Thurman? Yes. But Byrd might not even hit the market. If he does, the Oregon product will want substantial green and I am not talking about jersey color.
EA: There is both stability and a bit of uncertainty up front. The Jets have their foundation in place with Nick and 'Brick as Mangold and Ferguson not only remain two of the best at their respective positions, but their durability frankly has been remarkable. Brian Winters, a third-round pick from Kent State, started the final 11 games for Jets at LG and he settled in down the stretch. The right side of the line is the big question mark because both Willie Colon and Austin Howard are set to become unrestricted free agents. Colon, a Bronx native, has expressed his desire to stay a Jet and his character and presence in the locker room was huge for this transitioning club. I think in a perfect world, he returns and is pushed by another young player in camp. Can the Jets and Howard find a landing spot? After starting all 32 games the past two seasons at RT, the 6'7", 333-pound Howard will turn just 27 on March 22 and he could find a number of suitors.