The Jets own six picks in this year's draft, giving them six important chances to improve their team. And the primary focus appears to be on defense. The Green & White are in need of a top-flight pass rusher, so an athletic OLB for their 3-4 who can get to the QB and drop into coverage is critical. They also need big D-linemen at end and/or NT who can anchor against the run. Injuries at the safety position hurt the team last season, so adding another player for depth will be important as well.
Offensively, wide receiver is not settled, and as a result we expect the Jets to address that area early in the draft (in the first three rounds). An interior lineman should also be on the docket, and a future right tackle is something the team needs to be looking at as well.
With all of that in mind, let's take a look at how the Jets draft might look.
Round 1 (No. 30 overall)
All indications are that the top of the draft is going to be heavy on defense, but there is also a good deal of depth at certain positions, and the Jets should have an opportunity to pick up a very good player here. Depending on how things play out, there's a chance that a DE like Cameron Heyward could fall to them. Baylor DT Phil Taylor weighs in at 334 and has uncanny natural strength and rare size and movement skills. His teammate, G Danny Watkins, could also be in play here.
OLBs Brooks Reed of Arizona and Akeem Ayers of UCLA are athletic, tough and coachable and are really moving up a lot of boards right now, but neither has been as productive as Justin Houston of Georgia. He has 20 career sacks and 58 plays behind the line of scrimmage, which averages out to three plays per game behind the line. There are some potential character issues holding him down, but that may work in the Jets' favor here. Pick: Justin Houston, OLB, Georgia
Round 3 (No. 94)
Like many draftniks, we're thinking that the Jets have to go WR here. With 64 picks between picks, it's a little tough to determine this selection. If the Green & White decide to go with a safety here, Iowa's Tyler Sash was very productive (13 INTs), weighs in at over 210 pounds and isn't afraid to throw it around. We have him ranked 94th on our board, but WR is a more pressing need.
Ideally, the Jets would love for Titus Young of Boise State to be here, but he's got DeSean Jackson-type skills and is currently moving up boards after running a 4.4 40. More likely choices could include North Carolina's Greg Little, who is a rare athlete with great size and can climb the ladder. But he's coming off major NCAA violations and has some maturity issues.
Keep an eye on Edmund Gates of Abilene Christian. He's 6'3", 200 pounds, runs a 4.3, had nearly 3,000 career receiving yards and averaged just under 20 yards per catch in college with 27 TDs. He's a 25-year-old former basketball player, but he's athletic and will go get the ball for Mark Sanchez. Pick: Edmund Gates, WR, Abilene Christian
Round 4 (No. 126)
Buster Skrine of Tennessee Chattanooga is a physical corner who can tackle and is ideally suited to playing the slot as a third corner in nickel packages. But the guy we like is John Moffitt of Wisconsin. A linemate of the higher-rated Gabe Carimi, Moffitt lines up at guard but can also play center. He's thick and carries good bulk, is an excellent run blocker, and is just a real physical "mauler" type of player who loves to de-cleat his opponent. To us, he is the prototypical Rex Ryan guy. Pick: John Moffitt, G, Wisconsin.
Round 5 (No. 161)
There are corners here, like Chykie Brown of Texas, but he is not an ideal fit for the Jets' man-cover schemes. North Carolina's Kendric Burney could be an option, but we like his teammate and defensive backfield mate, Deunta Williams. At 215 pounds Williams has good size for a safety, is a solid tackler and possesses impressive ball skills. He won't be a guy to drop down and cover the receiver out of the slot, but he takes good angles to the ball and in coverage. He can play free or strong safety and will contribute on special teams. Pick: Deunta Williams, S, North Carolina
Round 6 (No. 194)
Clemson's Byron Maxwell measures in at 6'0", 202, and is the physical type of defender Ryan likes. Very physical and aggressive in coverage, he is also a ferocious hitter who looks to dislodge the ball from the ballcarrier and is a willing and able player in run support. He also excels on cover teams and will be an impact player on special teams from day one. Pick: Byron Maxwell, CB, Clemson
Round 7 (No. 208, pick from Arizona)
Most people think you need a big, wide-bodied space eater to play the nose in the 3-4, but as the 30 front continues to evolve in the NFL, we have seen that isn't always the case. That's why Chris Neild of West Virginia makes sense here. He's a tough, smart, physical player who gives great effort and understands how to play with leverage. He's not much of a pass rusher and he's limited athletically, but he's a lunchpail guy who will occupy blockers and create opportunities for his defensive teammates. He's a plug-in player who could end up playing for a long time in the NFL. Pick: Chris Neild, NT, West Virginia