From Eric Decker to Michael Vick, all this free agency talk has made it easy to forget that the NFL Draft is just over six weeks away. But as GM John Idzik has expressed very clearly during his year and change running the Green & White, the additions in March are simply need-based. The draft, meanwhile, will be the most important building block in shaping the roster.
So who will be the Jets' first selection in this ever-so-important lifeline? That depends who you ask. Each of the five experts at CBSSports.com, for example, has a different opinion on who might be holding up that New York Jets No. 1 jersey on May 8.
Pete Prisco projects the Jets to go with a player at a position that we at newyorkjets.com have not come across in any other first-round mock drafts to date: cornerback.
"Take a look what they have now. There isn't much," Prisco writes. For that reason, the Jets would make Michigan State's Darqueze Dennard their second rookie cornerback taken in the first round in as many years.
The 5'11", 199-pound Jim Thorpe Award winner is widely regarded as the top defensive back in this year's draft class, although Prisco has Alabama safety Hasean Clinton-Dix and Oklahoma State corner Justin Gilbert off the board, to the Bears at No. 14 and Steelers at 15 respectively. Dennard earned All-Big Ten first-team honors in each of his two most recent seasons and ran a 4.51 40-yard dash during February's combine.
Rob Rang, Dane Brugler and Will Brinson all see the Green & White choosing a wide receiver at No. 18.
Most experts have Texas A&M's Mike Evans in his own tier among this year's wide receiver prospects, behind Clemson's Sammy Watkins and ahead of the rest. Perhaps he'll creep into the top 10 taken on May 8, but it's also possible (though unlikely) that 17 teams will pass on him as in the case of Brinson's mock draft.
"Dream scenario for the Jets? Maybe an impossible scenario too? I had to double-check I didn't already have Evans off the board," Brinson says. "But think about if their offense was suddenly Geno Smith/Michael Vick throwing to Eric Decker and Evans. They need a corner too but that seems kind of acceptable in terms of potential production in the pass game."
Evans ran a 4.53 40, which might not sound all that impressive for a first-round-caliber receiver until you realize he's 6'5", 231.
Brandin Cooks, meanwhile, is at the other end of the size/speed spectrum, and that's who the Jets go with at 18 in Rang's analysis. At 5'10", 189, the Oregon State product makes up for his lack of stature with blazing quickness, leading all wideouts in the combine 40 (4.33), 20-yard shuttle (3.81) and 60-yard shuttle (10.72).
"Cooks is an extraordinary athlete with the agility and speed to complement newly signed possession receiver Eric Decker," Rang said of last season's Biletnikoff Award winner.
And then there's Odell Beckham Jr. (5'11", 198) out of LSU, whose 4.43 40 splits the difference between the other two. Although the other four CBS Sports experts don't have him going until a few picks later, Brugler predicts Beckham will be the third receiver taken as the Jets' top pick.
Of course, no Jets mock draft article would be complete without an Eric Ebron reference. He didn't make it to the Green & White in the scenarios drawn out by Brugler, Rang and Brinson, but he's the consensus No. 1 tight end in this year's class and would make for a great complement to Jeff Cumberland. Put simply, Kirwan wrote, "Geno Smith will be better as soon as Ebron is on the field."
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