This is going to be the most important opportunity for the Jets
According to Rich Cimini of ESPN, the New York Jets are only $464,000 under the projected cap. The franchise has a priority free agent in DT Sione Pouha and 10 other free agents. Considering the Jets had a highly overrated roster last year (that performed at a mediocre level), this is not a good situation.
General manager Mike Tannenbaum will need to be more efficient than ever before in this year's draft if he wants the team to get to the Super Bowl. This particular mock draft will show readers what the GM needs to do in every round to give his team a chance of attaining that goal.
Mike Brown (owner of the Bengals) would be happy to make this move
Tannenbaum is legendary for trading up to get the player he wants. This time, unless Trent Richardson, Courtney Upshaw or Melvin Ingram is available (unlikely based on the current draft order), the Jets need to trade down. The Cincinnati Bengals appear to be the only team in position to deal with the Jets.
Cincinnati would love to get back to back picks in the first round, and all they would give up for that is a lower first round selection and a late third-round pick. They could get a new wide receiver to play alongside A.J. Green and with the next pick draft a new cornerback.
The Jets should make this move in order to acquire the prospects they need. Drafting someone at 16th overall would almost be a waste of a pick for the Jets and any essential prospect would be available with the 21st pick. Tannenbaum would most likely have to include an additional pick in next year's draft to the Bengals, but that pick wouldn't have to be higher than a third rounder.
Barron should be the most important prospect to the Jets
The Jets need to acquire two new starting safeties in 2012. With the cap situation being so poor, they need to draft Mark Barron more than ever.
The University of Alabama states that Barron is 6'2" and weighs 218 pounds. Barron will be expected to run a 4.55 40 yard dash at the Alabama pro day. He has the instincts of an elite starting safety and the ability to reach that potential.
Drafting Barron would mean the Jets would have someone that could potentially cover Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots. That needs to be a priority for the team since Gronkowski dominated the Jets in their second meeting during the 2011 season.
Doug Martin can block, catch, and run effectively
As I wrote in my previous article (NFL Draft 2012: 7 Areas of Immediate Need for the New York Jets) the Jets need a new running back. Drafting Bilal Powell last year was purely as an insurance policy for Joe McKnight. None of the current Jets tailbacks can block, catch and run well; the team will need exactly that kind of player under new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano.
Doug Martin will not be available in the third round and no one else at this point will be as versatile, in terms of skill set, as the running back from Boise State. He will provide Sparano with a true No. 1 back to lead the Jets' rotation of ball carriers, while also giving Mark Sanchez extra pass-protection and a reliable receiving target.
At the Senior Bowl, Martin was listed at 5'9" and 219 pounds. His build and playing style are comparable to that of Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice (Baltimore Ravens) when he was coming out of Rutgers in 2008. This would be a perfect fit for the Jets.
This is what the Jets have wanted for a very long time
This trade would involve the 78th overall selection, Bart Scott, and Bilal Powell. Indianapolis didn't have much of a running game this past year and could use a solid third halfback to contribute to their rotation. The move would also get them veteran leadership on defense and they would still get to pick a prospect in the third round.
As a rebuilding team, the Colts will be able to afford to make this trade and the Jets will need to make the move. Andre Branch was listed at 6'5" and 260 pounds during his redshirt senior season with the Clemson University Tigers. He's one of the limited number of quality prospects who has played both the linebacker and defensive end positions at the collegiate level.
Branch would bring a legitimate pass-rushing option for the Jets; they could pair him with Aaron Maybin and Calvin Pace to create havoc. He could start for the team right away as a defensive end/outside linebacker and eventually develop into a quality coverage linebacker.
Joe Adams is the play maker the Jets need to get to the big game
With Plaxico Burress already pinning for the Philadelphia Eagles to sign him and a terrible cap situation, the team will have to draft two wide receivers in this year's draft. The first one should be Joe Adams.
Dominating the Senior Bowl at 5'10-1/2", Adams plays like a running back with the speed and quickness of Chicago Bears' wide receiver Devin Hester. Any time he is in open space the wide out is a major threat to any defense.
In addition to breaking "ankles" and tackles, Joe Adams can catch the ball consistently, something that Santonio Holmes has not demonstrated throughout his NFL career. Adams would be an immediate No. 2 wide receiver option for the Jets, and he could potentially develop into Holmes' successor if the team decides to get rid of the enigmatic star's huge contract.
Michael Egnew is the type of player that could be a major threat in the NFL
Since linebacker Audie Cole will almost definitely be off the board at this point, the Jets will need to pick someone else at a different position. That prospect should be the University of Missouri's 6'6", 245-pound tight end Michael Egnew.
Egnew has the size, speed and bulk to be a starting tight end in the NFL. The Missouri Tiger also has the ability to block and catch the football effectively. He has all the attributes that Tony Sparano needs from a player at that position in his scheme.
Pairing the rookie with Dustin Keller would allow the Jets to have an easier time fooling teams with the play-action pass. This was a major issue in 2011, since opposing defenses always knew that if Keller was the only tight end involved in a play it was going to be a pass.
Iloka is a prospect the Jets need to take a risk on
As mentioned earlier, the Jets need a second safety. With a lack of cap space they will have to take a risk in this year's draft and one of those risks should be to take George Iloka.
According to Pro Football Weekly, Iloka is nearly 6'4" and weighs 216 pounds. During the Senior Bowl he weighed 222 pounds and displayed excellent quickness and speed at the free safety position. Iloka has all the physical abilities to be successful in the NFL but he needs to improve his tackling.
Pairing Iloka with Mark Barron in the defensive backfield could potentially allow the Jets to completely shut down Tom Brady. The Jets would still be targeted in the middle of the field on defense but would have two tall and quick safeties capable of filling the roles the Jets lacked in 2011.
Robinson would be a late round steal
During the Senior Bowl, Gerell Robinson displayed good catching ability and speed. If Pro Football Weekly's measurements of Robinson are accurate (6'3-1/8" and 222 pounds), then the wide receiver would be a perfect fit for the Jets.
Robinson isn't a big name because of his team's lack of success, but he is a capable player who could help the Jets as a red-zone target (a role that will be left vacant by Plaxico Burress). The Arizona State wideout would provide the Jets with another pair of capable hands in the offense.
Following a blueprint laid out by Super Bowl coaches Tom Coughlin and Bill Belichick, the Jets should focus on getting smart players. Jeff Adams is a prospect who has gotten almost no attention at all because he plays for an Ivy League team.
If Adams slides down to the seventh round—a definite possibility—then the Jets should take him.
Adams is perfect for the zone-blocking scheme the Jets have run in the past and has the intelligence to start for the Jets very quickly (if necessary). The Jets will most likely need to figure out a way to get a player in free agency but Adams could be an effective starting right tackle after one year of conditioning and professional experience.
It's important to note that Ivy League athletes are not treated the same way as most Division I players because they don't get any sort of scholarship. This financial burden may serve as extra incentive for Ivy League athletes to play well in the NFL.
Kicker might be one of the few positions of need that could be addressed in the seventh round
The Jets will have at least one compensatory pick in the seventh round. Since Nick Folk is a free agent and the Jets may need a kicker, picking Blair Walsh would not be a difficult move.
Walsh has the potential to be a very good kicker and has started for all four years during his time with the Georgia Bulldogs.