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2012 NFL Draft: New York Jets' Biggest Needs

Danny PaskasSenior Analyst IJanuary 31, 2012

2012 NFL Draft: New York Jets' Biggest Needs

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    Well, that was a waste of a New York Jets season. Didn't Rex Ryan guarantee a Super Bowl? Then why are we all getting ready to watch the New York Giants and the New England Patriots play for the Vince Lombardi Trophy?

    Well, it's time to stop whining and realize that just like all non-playoff teams, the Jets will have reinforcements on the way through the draft and free agency.

    Some Jets fans may want to make drastic moves, such as bringing in a new QB for the disappointing Mark Sanchez or to cut team malcontent Santonio Holmes to get his attitude problem as far away from the locker room as possible.

    But, if you look beyond just the glamour positions of QB and the typical diva wide receiver, it is clear to see that this team has more problems that they have to deal with.

    The Jets are not going to give up on a Sanchez, a third-year player who led the team to two AFC Championship games, so quickly. They are also not going to cut Santonio Holmes, the former Super Bowl MVP and possibly their best receiver, after rewarding him with a five-year deal.

    Besides a shrink, here are the Jets' five biggest needs.

Safety

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    There is going to be a big hole left at the strong safety position, with both contracts expiring for starter Jim Leonhard and the back-up, Brodney Pool.

    I would also not be surprised if starting free safety Eric Smith is cut, as he has failed to impress.

    In free agency, there isn't really any major upgrade other than LaRon Landry, who is going to be out of the Jets' price range.

    New York should look as early as possible to draft a safety if it makes sense, since it is their most pressing need.

    If the Jets want to match up better with their rival, the New England Patriots, they may want to get a taller, bigger safety than the 5'8'', 188 lbs. Leonhard, who simply does not have the size to stop their Rob Gronkowski/Aaron Hernandez-powered offensive attack.

    In Mel Kiper's latest mock draft, he has the Jets using their first pick to draft Mark Barron, the 6'2'', 218 lb.-safety out of the University of Alabama.

Running Back

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    With the New York Jets already making the switch at offensive coordinator from Brian Schottenheimer to the run-first play-calling of recently hired OC Tony Sparano, they have sent the message that they will be going back to the ground-and-pound game.

    The supposed heir apparent, Shonn Greene, did not get it done this season. LaDainian Tomlinson is on the verge of retiring, and if Joe McKnight was anything more than a special teams player, he would have shown in it by now.

    So, the Jets are going to have to look at the draft or through free agency to secure a better lead back.

    Some free-agent running backs that are out there who may be intriguing are Michael Bush, Michael Tolbert, Peyton Hillis or Marshawn Lynch.

Offensive Line Help

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    The New York Jets offensive line was not the dominant one it once was three seasons ago when the team led the league in rushing.

    Gone is Alan Faneca; gone is Damian Woody. As these two stalwarts left, they were never replaced.

    Vladimir Ducasse is far from the answer and may not even be a suitable backup.

    New York only has three dependable linemen in Nick Mangold, D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Brandon Moore.

    The Jets need to fill in the holes to sure up the decimated line.

    Former Jet Karreem McKenzie, New Orleans Saints' Carl Nicks or Buffalo Bills' Demetrius Bell are all available in free agency.

Linebackers

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    Coming off his worst season in seven years with a total of just 66 tackles, combined with the fact that he is 31, it looks like Bart Scott may have outstayed his welcome in New York.

    Scott's fellow linebackers, Bryan Thomas and Calvin Pace, are also 31.

    Just like they rebuilt their defensive line through last year's draft by selecting Muhammad Wilkerson and Kenrick Ellis, it could be time to do something similar with linebacking core.

    The perfect draft pick would be Arizona State University's Vontaze Burfict. He is a linebacker with a loud mouth, only he backs it up, something Scott used to do but can no longer do.

    Burfict will most likely be there when the New York Jets draft 16th. Rex Ryan will have the tough decision of choosing between Burfict or Alabama's safety, Mark Barron.

    Both picks should work out.

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