With free agency underway and the NFL draft less than six weeks away, mock drafts around the internet are really starting to fall into place.
As far as the New York Jets are concerned, the dawn of free agency has only added more holes to a roster that already had an abundance of needs.
Most of the names linked to the Jets at the No. 9 pick remain the same. Players like Jarvis Jones, Dion Jordan, Ziggy Ansah and Barkevious Mingo all remain the top options as the Jets look to completely rebuild their defense.
Star Lotulelei and Sharrif Floyd now seem to be in play as well after the team lost Mike DeVito and Sione Pouhha this week and there still remains groups of Jets fans pushing for Geno Smith or Chance Warmack.
But the Jets' first-round selection is just the tip of the iceberg here. They need to hit on multiple picks this year at key positions in a big way. That means finding players who not only will contribute as rookies, but fill starting roles and play well.
That being said, here's a look at the Jets mock draft after the first few days of free agency.
As expected, the Jets have gutted their defense and will be rebuilding the unit from the ground up.
If Darrelle Revis is traded as expected, the only defensive starters who will be returning in 2013 are Muhammad Wilkerson, Antonio Cromartie, David Harris and Kyle Wilson. Kenrick Ellis, Demario Davis and Quinton Coples all saw significant time as well, but will still be considered newbies next season.
Wilkerson, Cromartie and Coples are a good trio to build around, but the Jets need at least one more young pillar to add to the foundation.
That player will be Jarvis Jones.
The injury concerns will always be there for Jones, and rightly so. However, he has been playing with the condition now incident-free for three seasons and on March 10 received a clean bill of health from respected doctor Craig Brigham (via Dan Pompei of the National Football Post).
Talent-wise, Jones rates as one of the top three players in the entire draft. He's a player who can step right in and make an immediate impact; just the kind of player the Jets need.
The only question is whether or not Jones will be available at No. 9.
The good news for Jets fans who are hoping for the opportunity to draft Jones is that players like Dion Jordan, Sharrif Floyd, Eric Fisher and Ziggy Ansah are considered possibilities as top-10 choices. That makes it more possible for Jones to fall to the Jets.
Alternate Pick: Star Lotulelei, DT Utah
Consider If He Falls: Dion Jordan, OLB Oregon
Don't Reach: Chance Warmack, OG Alabama
The Jets are in the market for a cheap running back who is strong enough to carry the load, fast enough to make a big play, shifty enough to create on his own and has the ability to catch balls out of the backfield in Marty Mornhinweg's new system.
That's Giovani Bernard in a nutshell.
With Shonn Greene now in Tennessee and doubts about whether or not Bilal Powell would ever be able to carry a team, the Jets have a serious need for an every-down back.
They are not in position to take a mid-round chance on someone who might work out, they need someone who could make an impact as soon as he puts on the pads.
Bernard and Eddie Lacy are the clear top two backs in the draft and the Jets seem to be in perfect position to nab one of them in the second round.
Bernard is the better fit in Mornhinweg's system, so he is the pick here if he is still available.
Alternate Pick: Jonathan Cyprien, SS Florida International
Consider If He Falls: Jesse Williams, DT Alabama
Don't Reach: E.J. Manuel, QB Florida State
After strong showings in the Senior Bowl and NFL combine, EJ Manuel's stock is rising faster than any quarterback in the draft.
It's risen so much that it could catapult him into the top of the second round at the very least.
With so many other needs on the roster, the Jets should avoid him in the second round. However, if he's sitting there when the Jets pick in the third, there is a good chance he'll end up wearing green and white.
Rex Ryan and Terry Bradway have a clear affinity for mobile quarterbacks and John Idzik's team stole Russell Wilson in last year's draft.
Concerns remain about Manuel's ability to read NFL defenses, but that seems to be the only hangup on Manuel coming into the draft.
The second round is too high for Manuel, but he'll be at the top of the Jets' list if he is around in the third.
Alternate Pick: Montee Ball, RB Wisconsin
Consider If He Falls: Khaseem Greene, LB Rutgers
Don't Reach: Landry Jones, QB Oklahoma
With Dustin Keller seemingly gone and no rumors about possible tight end free-agent candidates, it looks like the Jets will address this position through the draft.
Mid-round targets Dion Sims and Nick Kasa are block-first tight ends, and that's all fine and good.
However, Marty Mornhinweg's system calls for a good route-runner who can get open down the seam.
Enter Jordan Reed from Florida.
Reed has drawn comparison's to Aarron Hernandez, which of course isn't a bad thing. At 6'3", 235 pounds, Reed is a little taller and leaner than Dustin Keller and perfectly fits the profile of a seam target in a West Coast offense.
Alternate Pick: Tyrann Mathieu, CB LSU
Consider If He Falls: Da'Rick Rogers, WR Tennessee Tech
Don't Reach: Matt Scott, QB Arizona
T.J. McDonald isn't just on the Jets' radar because they just hired his father Tim as the team's defensive backs coach.
The 6'3", 220 pound safety out of USC has fantastic size at safety, and that will play well trying to cover the increasingly freakish tight ends in the NFL.
He's a physical presence who loves to mix things up on run defense and make receivers pay when they catch a ball in front of him. Sounds like just the type of player Rex Ryan would love to have in his secondary.
While he is very strong in run support, questions remain about how well McDonald will fare against the pass. He sometimes is overzealous against the run and has a tendency to bite on play action and double moves.
If McDonald was as good against the pass as he is against the run, he'd be a first-round pick. If the team that drafts him can bring him up to speed on the NFL style of play at safety, he could be a real mid-round steal.
Especially for a team in dire need of safeties.
Alternate Pick: Josh Evans, FS Florida
Consider If He Falls: Marcus Lattimore, RB South Carolina
Don't Reach: Joseph Fauria, TE UCLA
The late rounds of the draft are usually where teams go to find special teams contributors and small-school projects.
However, the Jets should do their best to find themselves a starter here on either side of the ball.
One position that usually has great value late in the draft is guard, and the Jets certainly have a need there.
Picking in the top of the sixth round, the Jets still have an excellent shot at getting someone who is ranked in the top 10 at that position.
If the Jets run into Hugh Thornton out of Illinois at this spot, he'd be an excellent value pick.
CBSSports.com rates Thornton as the eighth-best guard in the draft and projects him as a fifth or sixth round pick, well within the Jets range in the top of the sixth round.
The 6'3", 320 pound Thornton had a "very good positional workout" at his pro day, according to NFL.com's Gil Brandt and excels when pass blocking.
Alternate Pick: Omoregie Uzzi, OG Georgia Tech
Consider If He Falls: Ace Sanders, WR South Carolina
Don't Reach: Knile Davis, RB Arkansas
In the past decade, the only seventh round picks who stuck with the team for more than three years were Chansi Stuckey (2007) and Darrell McClover (2004).
While they can't be expected to find a Pro Bowler in the seventh round, they should at least be able to find someone who can contribute something.
The best way to find someone who can contribute immediately here is to draft a player who can also contribute on special teams.
Johnny Adams is a physical corner who is not afraid to mix it up on run defense and doesn't shy away from contact. Rex Ryan's affinity for having a large number of cornerbacks in his rotation means that this position is always a candidate to be addressed on draft day.
Alternate Pick: Duke Williams, SS Nevada
Consider If He Falls: Denard Robinson, WR Michigan
Don't Reach: Collin Klein, QB Kansas State
The one specter hanging over this entire mock draft, though, is the pending Darrelle Revis trade. Depending on who you believe, a trade is either imminent, being explored or not happening at all.
The only thing that seems to be certain is that the one team who has shown significant interest in acquiring Revis is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
With the heavy rumors of a trade between the Jets and Buccaneers circulating, this entire mock draft (and all other Jets mock drafts) could be rendered obsolete if a trade goes through.
So let's have a little fun.
According to Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports, the Jets are holding out for the Buccaneers' 2013 first-round draft pick and that is the final road block to overcome to make the trade.
Hypothetically, let's say the Jets do pry the Bucs' first-round pick away from them. Let's also say that the Bucs throw in one of their two 2013 fourth-round pick as well.
Here's how that nine-pick mock draft could shake out:
First Round: Jarvis Jones, LB Georgia
First Round: Bjoern Werner, DE Florida State
Second Round: Giovani Bernard, RB North Carolina
Third Round: E.J. Manuel, QB Florida State
Fourth Round: Ryan Swope, WR Texas A & M
Fourth Round: Alvin Bailey, OG Arkansas
Fifth Round: T.J. McDonald, FS USC
Sixth Round: Chris Gragg, TE Arkansas
Seventh Round: Johnny Adams, CB Michigan State
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