New York Jets Team Needs: Draft Wrap Up
The New York Jets did a good job in the 2016 NFL draft of systematically addressing their positions of need that existed heading into the draft. It was of the upmost importance for them to get younger and more talented at linebacker, and that is exactly what they did in the first and third round. 20th overall pick Darron Lee will be starting opposite David Harris at middle linebacker before long. Their 3rd round selection Jordan Jenkins will have a chance to start right away as the edge setting outside linebacker to replace Calvin Pace as long as he is able to make the adjustment to standing up most of the time.
The Jets also had to add some talent to the quarterback room and improve their depth on the offensive line. In the second round the Mike Maccagnan got the quarterback they wanted when they took Christian Hackenberg. While it would take a miraculous level of growth for Hackenberg to be ready to start this season, he does have very real potential to turn into a franchise quarterback a few years from now. The Jets traded back up into the 5th round to take South Carolina Brandon Snell. While it is doubtful he will replace Breno Giacomini as the starter this year, his experience and success as a 3+-year starter in the SEC shouldn’t be overlooked.
New York was also able to add some depth at cornerback in the 4th round with Juston Burris out of N.C. State. As things currently stand, Marcus Williams will likely be the starter across from Darrelle Revis with Buster Skrine staying in the slot. Burris will likely compete with Dexter McDougle and Dee Millner for the dime back spot, but could end up pushing Williams for a starting job. They also found the potential steal of the draft in the 7th round with oft injured but extremely talented Clemson receiver Charone Peake.
While the Jets did address almost all of their positions of need heading into the draft, they still have some work left to do. Here are the positions that the Jets still need to figure out as we head towards the summer.
The Jets did draft Hackenberg, a pick that I was very in favor of, but that doesn’t mean that they are done at the position. The Jets were in need of a quarterback for the future, but they also are still trying to figure out who is going to play this season. The Ryan Fitzpatrick saga continues to rage on, and until it is resolved, the Jets are set to have Geno Smith as their starting QB. Fitzpatrick had the best statistical season by a QB in Jets history, but the talent and system around him had just as big of a role in that as he did. Fitzpatrick is trying to milk the Jets of as much money as he can, but sooner or later he is going to have to accept that he isn’t going to get his absurd asking price. If by some chance he isn’t bluffing and does retire, all will not be lost if Smith is the day 1 starter, even though the media will make it appear as if they sky has fallen.
2. Offensive Line
The Jets can still use some help up front even after the Shell pick. Their situation at right guard is far from ideal with Brian Winters currently slated as the starter. There is always a chance that they will bring back Willie Colon on another one-year deal, but he is still recovering from the injury that forced him to miss most of last season and won’t be ready till close to camp. The fact that they don’t have a clear back up at left tackle for Ryan Clady is also a very big point of concern. If he can stay healthy, then he will be a big upgrade over what D’Brickashaw Ferguson had been giving them the past few years, but his health is far from a guarantee. The Jets will need to keep a very active eye on the veteran offensive lineman waiver wire, because Clady getting injured would be a disaster given the current state of the depth behind him.
3. Tight End
Even though this isn’t a major need given how small of a role the tight end position played in their offense last year, I continue to list it as a position of need for one specific reason. The Jets need to find a blocking tight end that is at least a serviceable weapon in the passing game. The return of Jace Amaro and Zack Sudfeld will almost certainly increase the production out of the TE position in 2016, but neither of them is a strong blocker. The Jets need someone that they can stick in on obvious rushing downs that opposing defenses will have to at least respect his ability to beat them as a receiver. Kellen Davis is a great blocker, but last season he proved time and time again that he is useless in the passing game. Having a blocking tight end that can also make plays as a receiver would greatly increase the Jets effectiveness in goal line and short yardage situations.