Exploring Every Team Need the New York Jets Must Address in 2012 NFL Draft

Danny PaskasSenior Analyst IFebruary 1, 2016

Exploring Every Team Need the New York Jets Must Address in 2012 NFL Draft

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    The New York Jets did little in free agency to address their areas of need and instead chose to make a high-profile trade that, while not making a lot of football sense, grabbed them the headlines they seem to desperately crave.

    Unfortunately, Tim Tebow cannot play safety, wide receiver or become the Jets' only legitimate pass-rusher since trading John Abraham to the Atlanta Falcons in 2006.

    While signing LaRon Landry for a year is a start at upgrading the safety position, he is still not 100 percent, as he is recovering from an injured Achilles tendon that has caused him to miss 15 games in the last two seasons.

    When healthy, Landry is a devastating hitter who can help to stop the run. He does, however, lack coverage skills.

    Signing former Oakland Raiders receiver Chaz Schilens is also a start to strengthen the receiving corps. At 6'4'', 225 lbs., he has the size to be the Jets' prototypical receiver, but he is far from an established player in the league.

    Last season, Schilens had an uninspiring 23 receptions. During his four-year career, he has just 72 receptions.

    Here are the needs that the Jets must address in the upcoming draft. 

Linebacker

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    While it looks like Bart Scott can't wait to get away from the New York Jets and Calvin Pace and Bryan Thomas being on the wrong side of 30, it is time to draft some new blood to infuse the linebacking unit with some youth.

    Arizona State linebacker Vontaze Burfict could prove to be the perfect fit. Burfict was thought to be a guaranteed first-round pick after his sophomore and junior years. Since then, he showed up to the combine a bit out of shape and performed very poorly.

    With Burfict already having questionable character and maturity issues, his combine performance most likely dropped him out of the first round.

    Burfict has unquestionable talent, and if he falls into the second round to No. 47, the Jets should run up to the podium.

    If New York decides not to take the chance on Burfict, other names to look for are Dont'a Hightower or Mychal Kendricks.

Running Back

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    Two seasons ago, the New York Jets averaged 172.2 rushing yards per game and had the No. 1 rushing attack in the league.

    Those two seasons seem like a lifetime ago. Since then, the once-dominant offensive line has declined, and the lead back duties have gone from Thomas Jones to LaDainian Tomlinson to Shonn Greene.

    Behind Greene's 1,054 rushing yards, New York's rushing game ranked 22nd in the league last season.

    While Tim Tebow will fix some of the rushing woes, an upgrade at the lead back would be welcome.

    A dual backfield, similar to the Carolina Panthers' DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart pairing, could work. If the Jets go this route, they can look into Lamar Miller out of Miami or Doug Martin out of Boise State.

    New York can also look to draft a change of pace back to complement Greene and Tebow's power-running games. If they go this route, they should keep their eyes on Oregon's speedy Lamichael James or Virginia Tech's David Wilson.

Safety

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    With the league seeing how successful the New England Patriots passing game can be by putting more of a focus on big, athletic tight ends like Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, it's only a matter of time before other teams follow suit.

    Everyone has seen what a copycat league the NFL is as recently as 2009, when the wildcat formation started with the Miami Dolphins and spread to several teams, including the Philadelphia Eagles with Michael Vick and the New York Jets with Brad Smith.

    This time, the tight end craze started in New England and has since spread to the New Orleans Saints with Jimmy Graham.

    The Jets need to revamp their safety unit with more size and athleticism to counter the new tight end attack.

    The Jets already gained height and muscle in free agency with the 6'0'', 220 lb. LaRon Landry, who will be able to match up better with Gronkowski-like receivers if he is able to stay in front of them and not succumb to mistackles.

    New York now needs to add more size through the draft due to the departing 5'8'' Jim Leonhard.

    Mark Barron, the 6'1'', 213 lb. safety out of Alabama would be ideal. Harrison Smith, who is the same size, would be a very nice consolation prize.  

Wide Receiver

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    "He could catch a 100 balls ... or he could be a special teamer," said Tannenbaum, who referred to Schilens as a "really impressive kid."

    Now, that does not sound like a lot of confidence from New York Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum after he signed former Oakland Raiders receiver Chaz Schilens. It was the only out-of-team move the team has made to improve their receiving corps.

    Other than Schilens, the Jets re-signed Patrick Turner, who has just 10 receptions in three seasons and gave locker room malcontent Santonio Holmes more guaranteed money.

    The rest of the depth chart includes promising, albeit small, second-year receiver Jeremy Kerley, who had 29 receptions as a rookie.

    And that's it.

    The Jets need to draft a prototypical receiver with height who can stretch the field and be a red-zone target, all while complementing the shorter Holmes and Kerley.

    This year's draft is deep at receiver, and New York should find what they are looking for.

    While Notre Dame's Michael Floyd may fall in the first round, South Carolina's Alshon Jeffery or Georgia Tech's Stephen Hill are more realistic targets.

    Value can also be had in the later rounds with Rutgers' Mohamed Sanu, Wisconsin's Nick Toon or even Miami's Tommy Streeter, the 6'4'', 219 lb. project receiver who ran a 4.40 40 at the combine.  

Pass-Rusher

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    Last season, Aaron Maybin finally proved that he is not the first-round bust the Buffalo Bills thought he was, as he led the New York Jets in sacks with six.

    David Harris followed with five sacks, while Calvin Pace and Bart Scott had 4.5 sacks apiece.

    With Scott likely on his way out and Maybin not re-signed as of yet, the Jets need to address their pass-rushing problem.

    The five elite pass-rushing defensive ends include Quinton Coples, Melvin Ingram, Courtney Upshaw, Andre Branch and Whitney Mercilus (great name, by the way).

    But if New York wants to take a pass-rusher in the mid to late rounds, Nebraska's Jared Crick can be a steal. Before spraining his MCL in 2011 spring practices, Crick had 9.5 sacks in both his sophomore and junior years.  

Offensive Lineman

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    The offensive line shredded their elite status in the 2010 offseason when they cut Faneca, a major contributor, in order to save money and drafted Vladimir Ducasse in the second round of the 2010 draft to replace him.

    This was a costly move—Ducasse turned out to be a bust. He is still with the team, but has not secured a starting role, and every time he plays, he seems to make a crucial mistake.

    At the start of this season, veteran leader Damien Woody was cut, leaving the once-powerful offensive line weak with no depth.

    While Mangold, D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Brandon Moore remain very productive on the offensive line, the Jets need more. They need more depth.

    Signing former Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Vernon Carey, who already knows the blocking system since he played under Tony Sparano last season, would be the safest route. Sparano is the Jets new offensive coordinator.

    By the time the Jets pick at 16, the top two offensive tackles, Matt Kalil and Riley Reiff, are projected to be off the board already.

    However, Stanford's Jonathan Martin, Georgia's Cordy Glenn or Ohio State's Mike Adams, all of which can be had late in the first round and beyond, are not much of a drop-off talent-wise.