Throughout the offseason, NewYorkJets.com reporters Eric Allen, Ethan Greenberg, Olivia Landis and Randy Lange will each give their predictions to a series of questions regarding this year's Jets.
Today's question: What has stood about the Jets' moves in free agency?
EA: Tackle. You can make the argument for wide receiver, cornerback and edge, but I don't see how the need at those positions trumps the one at tackle. You can pencil in Breshad Perriman and Jamison Crowder, Pierre Desir and Brian Poole as two of your three starters at receiver and cornerback, respectively (sub packages are your base in today's NFL). The Jets use the village approach to attack the quarterback and getting OLB/DE Jordan Jenkins, who had 8.5 sacks last season, back was critical. The Green & White don't have a dominant speed guy, but Gregg Williams is a magician and he also has the most effective pass-rushing DB in football in S Jamal Adams. This also could be a historically deep wide receiver class and there may be intriguing corner options on Day 2 and early on Day 3. The Jets like newcomer George Fant's athleticism and upside, but he has 24 career starts and Joe Douglas said he'll have a chance to compete for a job. Chuma Edoga got his feet wet as a rookie with eight starts and 27-year-old Conor McDermott suited up in a career-high seven game last season. Expect the offensive line facelift to continue in front of Sam Darnold and that's the case even if Douglas doesn't go tackle in the first round.
EG: Between the four "areas of need" for the Jets — T, WR, edge and CB — I'm rolling with tackle. George Fant, whom the Jets agreed to terms with during free agency, second-year player Chuma Edoga and Conor McDermott, a 2019 waiver claim, are the only tackles on the roster. None of them have started a full season and have combined for 34 starts. GM Joe Douglas told the media there's a shortage of quality O-linemen in the NFL and while the Jets are encouraged with Fant and Edoga, I'd imagine Douglas would like to add more linemen through the draft, especially when you think about the injuries to the Jets' OL last season. Tackle, either left or right, is a premium position and I believe Douglas will add to the group through the draft at some point with his top four picks. Defensively, the Jets have five CBs on their roster — Pierre Desir, Brian Poole, Bless Austin, Nate Hairston and Kyron Brown — and reportedly agreed to terms with Arthur Maulet, who started six games for the Green & White last season. I imagine there are still more moves to be made to increase the depth of the group. Whether that's through the draft is to be determined.
RL: The question is complicated, since it implies what one feels is Jets' top need in the draft. But they could address a top need before the draft (there is one big-name edge rusher still on the market). Or they may not be able to address their most pressing need at No. 11, if, for instance, all four of the top offensive tackles are selected before they step up to their computer monitors to make this year's selection. So I'll alter the question somewhat and say, while the Jets' top need is another top tackle, the tackles will be gone and they will select the best available at another position of need, which is the top wideout available to play pitch-and-catch with Sam Darnold in the fall, probably either Jerry Jeudy or CeeDee Lamb.
OL: Although Jets general manager Joe Douglas reached agreements with five offensive linemen in free agency including former Seahawk George Fant, I still see tackle as being one of the Green & White's most immediate needs. When speaking to the media last week, Douglas recalled last summer when he addressed quarterback Sam Darnold's parents and vowed to add the protection he needed to help the young QB perform at his best. He followed up on his word in free agency and will have to ability to continue to do so in the upcoming Draft. There are other areas the Jets need to improve on like wide receiver, edge and cornerback, but in order to provide a franchise QB the tools he needs to succeed, it will start by building in the trenches. Last season, the Jets' offensive line ranked last in rushing yards per play and 30th overall in sacks per pass attempt. If Douglas can build a reliable O-line, pressure will be taken off a young Darnold and the Jets will have an opportunity to build a stronger run game.