Whoever replaces Mike Tannenbaum as New York Jets GM will have to get maximum mileage out of the 2013 draft.
Salary cap constraints created by prorated bonuses mean the Jets will not be able to spend lavishly on free agents. Plus, the $5 million rookie cap can bring more new bodies aboard than spending the same amount on free agents.
The Jets must clean up their cap mess and figure out which free agents will leave. Once the air clears, they may need as many new bodies as they can get.
I set up this draft under the following assumptions:
—The Jets will free significant cap space by releasing linebackers Calvin Pace and Bart Scott, nose tackle Stone Prouha, quarterback Tim Tebow, safety Eric Smith and tackle Jason Smith.
—Safeties Yeremiah Bell and LaRon Landry, guards Brandon Moore and Matt Slauson, tight end Jeff Cunningham and wide receiver Braylon Edwards sign new contracts.
—Quarterbacks Mark Sanchez and Greg McElroy remain. However, the Jets obtain an established NFL veteran to start in 2013.
—The Jets extend offers to outside linebacker Bryan Thomas, running back Shonn Greene, tight end Dustin Keller, kicker Nick Folk and defensive end Mike DeVito. However, all decide to test the free-agent market and may not return.
This has the following effect on draft priorities:
1. Linebackers become the top priority. The Jets needed a pass-rushing threat at outside linebacker before considering their cap-based moves. Because of the cap, they may need to replace three starters in 2013.
2. Offensive skill positions are still vital. The new quarterback will need a workhorse running back who holds on to the ball and wide receivers who can catch balls that aren't thrown between the numbers.
3. The defense needs to replace Prouha. A new nose tackle who stuffs the run would address the team's most significant defensive weakness.
4. The offensive line needs bodies. Jason Smith's departure means less depth at tackle. Should Moore and Slauson not re-sign, the Jets need new guards as well.
One scenario follows, from last round to first.