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1. Jarvis Jones*, OLB (Georgia)
As it stands right now, having Jones on the Jets is a long shot at best. In most places, Jones is considered the best defensive player in the draft. To understand the impact Jones could have on a game, just look at what he did in Georgia's big win over Florida this year. He had 13 tackles, 4.5 tackles for a loss, three sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. He's that disruptive.
2. C.J. Mosley*, OLB (Alabama)
Mosley has taken the baton from Courtney Upshaw and Dont'a Hightower as the leader of the Alabama defense and has developed into a better pro prospect than both of them ever were. Mosley is 6'2" and 230 pounds, and has the quickness that could invigorate the Jets' plodding linebacker corps.
Most mock drafts don't agree on Mosley's draft spot just yet, as some have him as high as a top-five pick while others have him down near the bottom of the first round. His slot will begin to solidify itself after the combine and then fans will know if the Jets have a legitimate shot at him.
3. Manti Te'o, ILB (Notre Dame)
Te'o has seen his stock rise with the success of Notre Dame and he could make a serious push to become a solid top-10 pick with a big performance in the national title game. Te'o is one of the most physically gifted players in the draft and the clear choice as the top middle linebacker available.
The only things keeping Te'o as a possibility for the Jets is that middle linebackers typically aren't top-10 picks and the fact that there are so many elite pass rushers that will rank in the top 10.
Te'o would be the perfect fit for the Jets as they have to start considering the end of David Harris' tenure on the team. Harris' contract will keep him on the team in 2013, but a middle linebacking group of Te'o, Harris and Demario Davis would be a strength of the defense. Beyond that, Davis and Te'o could take over the position going forward.
Te'o is the type of high-motor player the Jets need and should remind people of Harris when he was playing at his peak with better pass coverage skills.
4. Barkevious Mingo, OLB (LSU)
Mingo is in a similar situation as Alabama's Mosley as mock drafts have him slotted all over the place. At one point, he was considered the top defensive player in the draft, but his declining production and the play of Jones has taken care of that idea.
Mingo is 6'4" and 240 pounds, and reminds people of Jason Pierre-Paul. That kind of comparison is what made Rex Ryan fall in love with Quinton Coples and the same can happen here with Mingo. Mingo isn't as polished as some of the other highly-rated pass rushers in the draft, but conversely could have a higher ceiling if he continues to develop.
As everything stands right now, there is a very good chance a number of factors will line up and land Mingo on the Jets next season.
5. Chase Thomas, OLB (Stanford)
The gap between Thomas and the other four linebackers listed in this side is considerable. There are a number of hybrid linebacker/defensive ends the Jets would rate ahead of Thomas, but because they were listed with the defensive linemen, Thomas slides in here.
Thomas doesn't have the physical traits of a Jones or a Mingo, but at 6'4" and 250 pounds, he isn't far behind. Thomas plays with a high motor and has been a constant force for Stanford.
Thomas would be a big reach for the Jets in the first round and probably won't be around when they pick in the second round. It appears that Thomas will be a very good piece added to a good team drafting in the bottom of the first round.
The next three: Corey Lemonier*, OLB (Auburn), John Simon, OLB (Ohio State), Morgan Breslin*, OLB (USC)
Mid-to-late-round gem: Kiko Alonso, ILB (Oregon)