The New York Jets have displayed a distinctive play style, especially over the past four years under head coach Rex Ryan. They play a slow-paced, tough style on both offense and defense. This tends to result in hard-fought, low-scoring games and requires a certain type of player.
With the upcoming switch on offense to the West Coast style under new offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, some things will change but not everything. Expect the Jets to still run the ball, focus on the quality of the linemen in the trenches and demand toughness in all of their players.
The 2013 NFL draft features a wide array of players who could become immediate upgrades for the Jets' roster. With the No. 9 overall pick and seven total picks (one in each round), they will need to snag as many upgrades as they can.
Recently hired general manager John Idzik will face this daunting task. Fortunately for him, there will most likely be players available for him that fit the mold he needs.
Here are five players in the 2013 NFL draft who were born to play in New York for the Jets.
Several mock drafts have the Jets picking an outside linebacker in the first round this year, and for good reason. One issue I touched on repeatedly throughout the 2012 season was the Jets' poor linebacking corps.
While the Jets have an excellent defensive line and an even better secondary, they have a truly terrible linebacking group. With Bryan Thomas, Bart Scott and Calvin Pace all potentially headed for release this offseason, the Jets will be very thin at the position. They do not have even one definite starter yet at outside linebacker for 2013.
Enter Jarvis Jones.
The 23-year-old prospect out of Georgia is an NFL-ready and highly talented outside linebacker. He is already drawing comparisons to DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller.
Jones embodies the attitude of a Rex Ryan defense. He is a high-motor, true outside linebacker who belongs in a 3-4 scheme. He has shown tremendous pass-rushing skills but can play snaps standing up as well. While Ryan uses sub-packages that diminish the necessity for three-down linebackers, Jones possess the speed that could allow him to play even in those sub-packages.
Linebackers thrive when the defensive line gets a push and absorbs all of the blockers. With Quinton Coples and Muhammad Wilkerson—two of the best young defensive linemen in the NFL—the addition of Jones could dramatically enhance the Jets' pass rush and pass defense.
The Jets are not the only team showing interest in Jones, who led the NCAA in sacks this past season. Some mocks have him being taken as high as fourth overall. Thus he might not be on the board when the ninth pick comes around.
If Jones is available at No. 9, the Jets have to take him. It would be a perfect match for both Jones and the Jets. It would be a match with Defensive Rookie of the Year written all over it.
Picking a quarterback No. 1 overall in the draft is increasingly becoming a tradition in the NFL. For the past four years, NFL teams have done it with Matthew Stafford, Sam Bradford, Cam Newton and most recently Andrew Luck.
This practice is not necessarily crazy, as the highest-paid player on an NFL team is most often the quarterback, and last-place teams tend to lack a franchise quarterback.
Geno Smith is widely considered to be the best quarterback in this year's draft class. He is thus an option for the Kansas City Chiefs—who desperately need a quarterback—to choose first overall. On the other hand, Smith is not the clear-cut favorite.
While Smith was viewed as the probable first choice earlier in the college season, he has moved down many draft boards of late. He has been described as being closer to Ryan Tannehill than Andrew Luck in terms of potential.
If Smith somehow drops all the way to the No. 9 spot, the Jets might be tempted to take him. He has speed and could find success in the new West Coast offense that offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg aims to implement.
His high energy and toughness are traits that the Jets always seek to have.
Nose tackle is not the biggest priority for the New York Jets in 2013, but nose tackle Kawann Short out of Purdue fits a mold that the Jets have done well with.
He is a big, powerful nose tackle who could thrive in a 3-4 defensive front. Short is projected to be a second-rounder. If he is around in the second or third rounds when the Jets pick, he will be an option to consider.
The Jets have gotten tremendous productivity in the past out of star nose tackle Sione Pouha. However, he was hindered by injury for all of the 2012 season and had a very poor year. His large contract may cause him to become a cap casualty this year.
If Pouha is to stay with the Jets, then he will probably have to accept some sort of pay cut or contract restructuring. It is unclear whether or not he will be willing to do this. Behind him on the depth chart is the raw but talented Kenrick Ellis.
If Pouha stays in New York, then Short probably does not make sense as a pick. However, if Pouha leaves, then Short could be a real possibility. He has the size, power and toughness that head coach Rex Ryan wants his defensive guys in the trenches to have.
Offensive guard Alvin Bailey is a guy who could fit in well with the New York Jets. Projected to go in the fourth round, Bailey could be a steal in the mid-to-late rounds.
The Jets had two extremely successful years in 2009 and 2010, riding one of the best offensive lines in football. In 2011 and 2012, they lost some of that line quality due to injuries and player turnover. With both starting guards—Matt Slauson and Brandon Moore—now entering free agency, guard is a position where the Jets have the need to fill holes.
Bailey has the main traits the Jets want. He is a powerful guy who can make impact blocks and help the ground game. Even with the transition to a more West Coast offense, the Jets are going to want to be physical and run the ball.
Of further importance is that Bailey can play both left and right guard, so whichever Jets guard does not come back (assuming they do not both come back), Bailey can potentially serve as the replacement.
At 6'5'' and 312 pounds, Bailey is the type of blocker who can help get the Jets' offensive line back to where it was in 2010. He has the potential to become the kind of player Moore has been for them.
Quarterback Tyler Wilson out of Arkansas is a player whose draft stock is difficult to evaluate. Wildly different projections have come from various sources. He has been projected by many to be a second-round pick, but it is not entirely out of the question that he could go in the first round or even first overall. According to Shawn Zobel of DraftHeadQuarters.com:
I’ve got [Tyler Wilson] right now as my number twelve player in the draft. Two years ago, Jake Locker was drafted in the top ten. Christian Ponder went twelve overall. I think Wilson is going to be a better player than both of them. So if those two are worth the spots where they were drafted, why isn’t Wilson worth potentially the number one pick?
Would No. 1 be crazy? What about No. 9? It is something to consider.
The Jets' new philosophy on offense is that of a West Coast offense. Other than Geno Smith, the other top quarterback in the 2013 NFL draft who can play in a West Coast scheme is Wilson.
The West Coast offense requires a quarterback who is both accurate and smart, allowing him to pick the best option as quickly as possible. It is in some ways less crucial for a West Coast quarterback to have a physically powerful arm.
The Jets' style of offense—while it has changed over the past decade—has generally aimed to include a running attack and the ability to keep possession and move the ball. Wilson has shown that he might have the intelligence and the decision-making ability to become the type of quarterback who can fit the Jets' mold.