2013 NFL Draft: New York Jets Should Draft Outside Linebacker in the First Round

Andrew KaufmanSenior Analyst IFebruary 8, 2013

ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 26: Tevin Washington #13 of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets is sacked by John Jenkins #6 and Jarvis Jones #29 of the Georgia Bulldogs at Bobby Dodd Stadium on November 26, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

ESPN released its latest round of mock drafts this week, and both Mel Kiper and Todd McShay have the Jets selecting outside linebackers with their first round pick. It is very early in the process, and these projections are likely to change several times, but it makes a lot of sense for the Jets to select an outside linebacker at No. 9 overall.

The Jets have many needs at the offensive skill positions, but outside linebacker has been just as big of a need for many years in New York. Gang Green has often lacked speed at this key defensive position, stretching the rest of head coach Rex Ryan's unit.

That weakness reached its peak this year, as Calvin Pace and Bryan Thomas are clearly both on their last legs. The Jets have no cornerstones at the position, and their defense would clearly benefit from some speed and youth in the linebacking core.

Not only is outside linebacker a need, but it is a need the Jets can address in the draft while still getting adequate value, as four relevant players are currently projected to be drafted in or around the Top 10.

In addition to Dion Jordan, who Kiper currently has the Jets selecting, and Jarvis Jones, who is McShay's "preferred" choice for Gang Green (McShay actually has Jones going to New York because he has Jordan being picked No. 5 overall), Barkevious Mingo and Alec Ogletree are also potential early first-round selections.

All four of these players would add much-needed speed to the Jets' defense without forcing Gang Green to reach with their first pick. The same cannot be said for potential solutions on offense.

The Jets have needs at essentially all offensive skill positions, but there may not be a single quarterback, running back or wide receiver worthy of the No. 9 overall selection. In fact, Kiper is currently projecting that no quarterbacks will be selected in the entire first round.

Gang Green has too many holes on its roster to reach in order to fill a need, and as the draft currently stands the Jets would be wise to select an outside linebacker, where college talent is abundant, in the first round.