New York Jets Team Needs: Pre-Draft
With very limited resources at their exposure this offseason, the New York Jets front office has had to operate with one hand tied behind their back. Given the circumstances, you cannot help but respect what General Manager Mike Maccagnan has been able to accomplish. So far this offseason Maccagnan has been able to address three of the five biggest needs that New York had heading into free agency.
After being asked to take a pay cut, D’Brickashaw Ferguson forced the Jets hand by announcing last week that he was going to retire after 10 seasons in green and white. A little over a day after that news was made public, Maccagnan made his move to replace the former franchise cornerstone by trading for 4-time pro bowl left tackle Ryan Clady. If Clady can stay healthy this year, he is an upgrade at LT given how much Ferguson’s level of play had receded the past few years.
After his first career 1,000-yard season, Chris Ivory left for much greener pastures to sign a big contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars. The ink was barely dry on that deal when it was announced that Ivory’s replacement had been found in Matt Forte. Arguably the most consistent running back in the league since his rookie season eight years ago, Forte appears to be a perfect fit for the Jets spread offense. The dual threat capabilities that he possesses should make him a nightmare in this offense.
Maccagnan didn’t stop addressing at Forte when addressing running back. First, he went out and resigned Bilal Powell who had a true coming out party at the end of last season as a due it all back. Powell’s presence as the third option in the passing game down the stretch helped key the Jets five game winning streak that had them on the precipice of the playoffs. Next, he went out and landed Khiry Robinson, who much like Ivory when he came to the Jets, is a very talented back who has been held back from reaching his potential by injuries and crowded backfields.
A hole big enough to drive a Mack truck through was left in the middle of the Jets defense when Damon Harrison signed a monster contract to stay in New York but switch conferences to become the foundation of the Giants new high priced defensive line. Knowing he didn’t have the resources to completely replace Harrison with one player, Maccagnan went out and landed two veterans who are more than capable of doing the job. Together, Steve McClendon and Jarvis Jenkins will solidify a defensive line that is already one of the best in the league.
To top it all off, the Jets resigned Erin Henderson at middle linebacker. Henderson is a pro bowl caliber player who saw his career derailed by addiction a few seasons ago. After spending last year as a backup to DeMario Davis, Henderson will be given the opportunity to prove that he is still capable of playing at an elite level.
While the Jets have done a very good job of addressing some of their biggest needs, there are still some glaring holes in their roster. These are the most important positions that remain for Mike Maccagnan and the Jets front office to address as we head towards the draft.
1. Outside Linebacker
This was the Jets biggest need heading into the offseason and it still remains unaddressed with the exception of signing CFL star Freddie Bishop III. This has always been, and with the Clady trade, remains to be the most likely position for the Jets to address in the first round. There are a number of very talented OLB’s that depending on how the draft falls, could be the newest member of Gang Green come April 28th. Noah Spence and Leonard Floyd are the most likely players to consider here, but there is also a very good chance that both of them will both be off the board when the Jets go on the clock with the 20th pick. One other possibility is Notre Dame OLB Jaylon Smith, but that would depend entirely upon his ability to prove that he is much further along in his recovery than he appeared at the combine. The other OLB to keep an eye on in the first round is Boise State prospect Kamalei Correa.
The longer the Jets go without signing Ryan Fitzpatrick, the louder the chatter gets about them taking Memphis QB Paxton Lynch in the first round become. It still only seems like a matter of time until the deal with Fitzpatrick eventually gets done, however it has already taken far longer than ever expected. Until D’Brickashaw Ferguson retired last week, the notion that Fitzpatrick would walk away from the game rather then sign the deal the Jets have on the table seemed like nothing more than an empty threat, but in light of that news, perhaps it isn’t. However, there is a dramatic difference between the amounts of money that the two players have made throughout their careers, which makes it way less likely Fitzpatrick would walk away. The smart gambling money should be on Fitzpatrick being in a Jets jersey next season, but if he doesn’t sign before the draft, you should expect New York to take a QB on the first two days of draft weekend.
3. Offensive Tackle
Yes, the Jets just did trade for Ryan Clady to replace D’Brickashaw Ferguson, and if he can stay healthy it will be an improvement. However, that is one very big if. Clady has missed 30 of his teams last 48 games with injuries, and considering he is going to be replacing one of the most durable players in the NFL since the turn of the century, the Jets can’t afford to not have a backup plan. Considering the Jets only have Clady under contact for one season and that Breno Giacomini has been far from impressive during his two seasons as a Jet, Maccagnan needs to start planning for the future of the position whether Clady can stay healthy or not.
4. Tight End
The Jets still haven’t done anything to improve at tight end this offseason. This shouldn’t be considered a major position of need considering their offense was able to do just fine with out really utilizing TE’s at all. Jace Amaro will be returning after missing all of last season, but the organization has done nothing but give off the impression that they aren’t very high on Amaro. This is a pretty weak class for tight ends so they may just end up sitting tight and hoping that Amaro, Kellen Davis, and Zack Sudfeld can get the job done. However, it wouldn’t be surprising at all to see them take a late round flyer on a TE.