The following is an article written by Real Football Services. They will be a frequent contributor on newyorkjets.com in the weeks leading up to the draft.
Everyone wants to know how the Jets are going to attack this year's NFL Draft. We can't tell you that right now, but what we can tell you is that the team is faced with a multitude of options and opportunities, and no matter how they play them, the Jets are in a position to add some good players to their roster.
Currently, the Green & White are one of only two teams (Denver is the other) with two first round draft choices. They own three of the first 35 picks, and will select five times in the first 97 selections. In a draft that provides good value through the top 100 picks, the Jets can stay right where they are and address their many needs.
Of course, many fans would love to see the team trade up for a chance to draft a player like USC RB Reggie Bush, or his teammate, QB Matt Leinart. With so many picks, that would seem like a viable option, and it may be under the right circumstances. But a look at the chart that most teams use as a guideline to determine draft day trade value tells us that could be an expensive proposition.
By combining the 4th and 29th picks in the first round, the Jets would only be able to move up one spot to the Tennessee Titans at #3. If they gave up the fourth, 29th, and 35th selections, it still wouldn't be quite enough to get them up to Houston's top pick. That's a high price to pay for just a couple spots on the board. Is there a player worthy of that price at the top of this draft? Is there a player they like that much? Will there still be an elite caliber player at #4 if they stay where they are? Let's take a look at what the team is facing.
Every pick is up for grabs this year. But despite the "For Sale" sign that GM Charley Casserly has put out on the #1 overall pick, look for the Texans to do the expected and select Bush, especially after a strong showing at the USC Pro Day on Sunday. Make no mistake, they would love to trade down and accumulate picks and will actively seek a trade. But the most important component in any trade is a partner, and the Texans will have a tough time finding one of those, partly because few teams will have the combination of picks and players that will bring equal value for the top pick. The other issue is Bush, who is a talented player, but must be plugged into the proper system in order to be successful.
The team that is in the best position heading into the draft is the New Orleans Saints, who can do just about anything they want at #2. They, like the Texans, would like to move down. Now that the team has eliminated the pressure to pick a quarterback with the signing of free agent Drew Brees, they might be best served by picking up additional selections and filling their many needs at linebacker, cornerback, safety and on the offensive line.
That won't preclude the Saints from taking a quarterback later in the first round, especially considering Brees is coming off shoulder surgery. Brees' contract basically is a one-year, $10-million deal with a $12 million bonus due next offseason. If Brees performs well and there is no successor in place, the Saints will keep him. If he doesn't perform at a high level, the team will move on. They could trade down to the Jets at #4 or pull off multiple trades, ala Bill Parcells in 1997, and still take Vince Young or Jay Cutler.
The Saints can also stay put and take stud OT D'Brickashaw Ferguson, or still take Leinart and let him sit and develop behind Brees for a year. With all of these options, New Orleans has taken control of the top of the board. But whoever ends up with the second overall pick will likely be moving there to select Leinart. Whether or not it's the Saints remains to be seen.
On the slim chance that Leinart falls to number three, expect head coach Jeff Fisher, a former Trojan, and offensive coordinator Norm Chow, Leinart's former mentor at USC, to jump on him quickly. We have it on good sources that the Titans are not high on Cutler and don't want to be in the business of teaching Young everything he needs to learn about the pro game.
Some fans may think that Tennessee needs to do anything they can to get a QB after telling Steve McNair to stay out of the team's training complex this week. But again, our sources tell us this is nothing more than a hardball game of stare-down as the Titans try to get McNair into a manageable salary cap slot. He should be back with the team. But if he doesn't return, the Titans still feel good about making Billy Volek the starter and could groom Leinart for the future.
Tennessee could also be tempted to trade out of the third spot as teams will approach them looking to jump the Jets for a chance at players like Ferguson or Leinart (one of them will be available), DE Mario Williams, or OLB A.J. Hawk. But if they keep the pick, the Titans could go with Ferguson. Fisher and his staff coached the Long Island native at the Senior Bowl in January and came away impressed.
The finally brings us to the Jets, who could very well be candidates to trade up to the Saints if Leinart is their guy. But as we mentioned, that move comes at a high cost. If Bush, Leinart, and Ferguson are off the board as expected, New York could contemplate a trade down and still be in a position to grab either Hawk or Williams, DT Haloti Ngata, CB Tye Hill, or S Michael Huff, depending on how far they move. Head Coach Eric Mangini is expected to switch to a 30-front on defense and could use any one of those players to make an impact in the new scheme.
At 6'7" and 295 pounds, Williams has the size to play the end in the 3-4, but also has the versatility to not only rush the passer, but play the run as well. Hawk has a nose for the ball, the speed and athleticism to make plays all over the field, and has the skills to be the playmaking OLB that is the key to that scheme. Ngata is a run-stuffing 338-pounder who can anchor the middle of the team's three-man line, and Hill and Huff could immediately compete for a starting job in a secondary whose most notable player is the newly signed Andre Dyson who played just 10 games last season.
And don't forget, the Jets still have the 29th pick, a spot where they could address their offensive line needs with Oklahoma's Davin Joseph or Georgia's Max Jean-Gilles, or add a cornerback like Ohio State's speedy ballhawk Ashton Youboty. If it's a quarterback the team is looking for, there will be options later in the draft. Scouts are excited about the prospects for players like Alabama's Brodie Croyle and Clemson's Charlie Whitehurst who could be available in the late second or early third round.
Anything could happen come draft day, but for Jets fans it should be comforting to know that the team could find success in the form of many different players.