2012 NFL Draft: 5 Positions New York Jets Must Address
The New York Jets have a lot of needs. Most importantly, they need to address both safety positions. After that, they can use some offensive line depth.
A starting linebacker or a defensive end hybrid who can provide some sort of pass rush should also be on their radar.
New York also needs to be on the lookout to upgrade their receiving corps with the prototypical tall wide receiver who could complement the shorter Santonio Holmes and the even shorter Jeremy Kerley.
A legitimate backup QB would be nice to have as well as another quality running back who can take over the starting role from incumbent Shonn Greene or form a dual threat back field, playing alongside him.
What the Jets have to figure is which is the best way to fill their positions, through the draft or by way of free agency.
Mike Tannenbaum made the first move already as he restructured D'Brickashaw Ferguson's contract in order to create $7.5 million in salary cap room.
It may be best suited for Tannenbaum to take that new found money and use it on an experienced offensive lineman or linemen. If the Jets are still in win-now mode, they cannot afford to wait for a rookie OL to develop. A proven one can protect Mark Sanchez as well as help with the running game.
While offensive linemen help should filled through free agency, these five other positions of need can be filled through the draft.
Starting strong safety Jim Leonhard is coming off two back-to-back injury shortened seasons and is headed for free agency. He is also just 5'8'', 188 lbs.
The New York Jets need to thank Leonhard for his services and move on.
They need to get a bigger, faster, and more athletic safety that would not be outmatched when covering taller wide receivers or New England's tight ends Rob Gronkowski or Aaron Hernandez, both of whom are going to be around for a while.
They can find these qualities in the 6'1'', 223 lbs., Mark Barron, the draft's top rated safety out of Alabama.
As a sophomore, Barron had 74 tackles and seven interceptions, while in his junior year, he had 75 tackles, three interceptions and two sacks.
This year, he had 61 tackles and two interceptions.
If Rex Ryan can make Leonhard productive for years, one can only imagine what he can do with Barron in his defensive schemes.
So it looks like Bart Scott "can't wait" to get away from the New York Jets as he has been given permission to seek a trade.
Scott's departure could all be for the better as he is now 31 and is unable to produce the way he used to. This season, he only had 66 tackles—down 15 from a season ago—and down 26 from two seasons ago.
It's time to find a younger replacement for him in the draft. Linebackers are usually abundant in the draft and can come in and produce immediately.
Vontaze Burfict is having a poor showing at the combine and may drop. Before the combine, he was the No. 2 ranked linebacker in the draft.
The kid can flat out play. At Arizona State, Burfict had 69 tackles, one interception and five sacks this year as a junior.
If Burfict can drop into Jets' laps in the third round due to a slow 40 time and a sub-par broad jump, they should snatch him right up.
After taking care of safety and linebacker, the New York Jets should turn their focus to wide receiver.
Plaxico Burress will be gone via free agency, leaving the Jets with Santonio Holmes, second-year receiver Jeremy Kerley and the non-electrifying Patrick Turner.
New York can hopefully still find some quality depth at the wide receiver position left in the third or fourth round.
Nick Toon out of Wisconsin or Mohamed Sanu out of nearby Rutgers are worthy candidates, both standing over six feet and coming off very productive college careers.
Sanu had 115 catches for 1,206 yards and seven TDs this year, while Toon had 64 catches for 926 yards and 10 TDs.
The Jets can also go the free agency route and possibly sign Dwayne Bowe or Marques Colston. But, it wouldn't make a lot of sense to pay big money to a receiver if the plan is to get back to the ground-and-pound game.
Drafting a running back with one of their top picks, or later picks, will depend on how the New York Jets feel about Shonn Greene.
After his first season as the Jets' feature running back, Greene rushed for 1,054 yards and six TDs. If the Jets don't think that was enough production, they can look to draft Lamar Miller out of Miami.
Miller rushed for 1,272 and nine TDs last year as a junior.
If the Jets are content with Greene's production and decide to draft a change-of-pace back, Oregon's Lamichael James could be the perfect fit.
James is a 5'9" speedster who can play in the same backfield as Greene or relieve him while confusing opposing team defenses.
The New York Jets need a legitimate backup QB in case Mark Sanchez regresses. Greg McElroy or Kevin O'Connell are not legitimate.
After prioritizing, the Jets should look for their backup in the later rounds.
Kellen Moore out of Boise State is just a winner as well as a very accurate passer who threw for 3,800 yards and 43 TDs in his senior year.
Then, there's Russell Wilson—a transfer student out of Wisconsin. Wilson led Wisconsin to an 11-3 record and to a Rose Bowl appearance. During the season, he threw for 3,175 yards, 33 TDs with only four interceptions.
Both would be worth taking a shot on in the later rounds.