Let's be real for a minute: If the Jets want to get back to ground and pound, it probably isn't happening with the backs they have now.
Shonn Greene is a serviceable back, but what we saw in the 2009 playoffs was a flash in the pan. He's not a featured back. That's OK, because in today's NFL, you really don't need one. Greene can form a duo or even a trio with other backs and still give the Jets a solid running game. But is that guy (or guys) on the roster now?
The answer is, probably not.
Joe McKnight is a kick returner, and while he has shown some potential in the running game, the Jets will never de-emphasize the importance of special teams, so he's staying there. Bilal Powell will have a chance in training camp to prove what he can do, but I wouldn't hold my breath on him becoming an NFL player.
So, where does that leave the Jets? Well, probably looking for a back in the draft. Here are some of the guys they should target based not just on skill, but on style.
If I'm being totally honest, Richardson probably isn't dropping to the Jets. However, we've seen backs fall in the draft recently. His former teammate Mark Ingram fell to the end of Round 1 last year, and he won the Heisman.
Here's what has to happen for Richardson to fall to the Jets: The Browns must take Ryan Tannehill, allowing the Bucs to take Morris Claiborne over him. Those are the two biggest threats to take Richardson before the Jets pick at No. 16. Once he gets past No. 5, the Jets have a shot at him.
If they can get him, Richardson is exactly what this offense needs. Unlike Greene, he actually is a feature back. He's a home run hitter who can also bang out short-yard carries when necessary, not unlike Adrian Peterson. He's a keeper, and if the Jets are lucky enough to get him, they'll have a steal.
I go to the University of Miami, so I had the privilege to watch Miller up close last year. That guy is fast. Really, really, really fast. That's what the Jets are looking for out of a complementary back.
The Jets need a home run hitter, and Miller can certainly make big plays. He reminded me of a poor man's college Reggie Bush. He gets away from tacklers and makes them look like fools. If he's available in Round 2, he's someone the Jets should give a long hard look.
I'm wary on including Wilson on this list, because I think he's too much of a reach at No. 16, but too much of a steal in Round 2. I'd love Wilson if he's available in the second round though, as he fits the profile of what the Jets need.
First of all, he can catch passes out of the backfield. Considering how much Mark Sanchez loves screens, that's a big asset to the Jets.
His production in college was excellent, and there are no real weaknesses to his game. The problem is, I don't see any major strengths either. Is he going to turn out like another Shonn Greene?
I doubt it, but his upside feels a bit limited to me. Fortunately, we don't need a high-upside type of guy. If Wilson can be a change-of-pace back and receiver out of the backfield, he'll have done his job.
Other than Richardson, James is my favorite of the bunch. His 40 time might not have shown it, but his game speed is unmatched by anyone in this draft. If you're looking for a back who can outrun a defense, this is your guy.
He is also a graduate of the prestigious University of Oregon option offense program. Why is this relevant? Because the Jets just traded for some guy named Tim Tebow. The possibilities of lining James and Tebow up in the Wildcat are endless.
Think of James as the next Darren Sproles. If used correctly, there's nothing the Jets can't use him for.
This would be as a late-round pick. Rainey is currently graded as a fifth- or sixth-rounder, so he wouldn't go in the same range as the first four guys on this list.
But Rainey has potential. He's a little bit like James, though not on the same level. He's fast and can be used all over the field. He has also spent quite a bit of time in the option offense, having played at Florida for Urban Meyer, so he could definitely be an asset in Tebow packages.
If the Jets choose to focus on other needs with their higher picks. expect them to look at Rainey as a potential diamond in the rough.
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