NFL Draft 2013: How the 1st Round Could Change the Face of the New York Jets

John Nizinski@@jniz73Analyst IIIApril 25, 2013

MORGANTOWN, WV - SEPTEMBER 22:  Geno Smith #12 of the West Virginia Mountaineers hands the ball off to Tavon Austin #1 against the Maryland Terrapins  during the game on September 22, 2012 at Mountaineer Field in Morgantown, West Virginia.  WVU defeated Maryland 31-21.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The NFL draft is here, and the season is creeping up on us as well. One team that needs to have a successful draft is the New York Jets.

The Jets had a significant change in their organization in 2009 when they hired Rex Ryan as their head coach and traded up to up to draft Mark Sanchez to be their franchise quarterback. Ryan's unique personality and defensive intelligence helped bring attention to the Jets and also bring them success on the field.

In Ryan and Sanchez's first two seasons they made back-to-back appearances in the AFC Championship Game. Sanchez won four playoff road games and played well enough to get the Jets into the Super Bowl, though they fell short.

Things were looking up for New York's "second team," and the combination of their quarterback and coach seemed perfect. But that was not exactly the case.

Over the last two seasons, the state of the Jets has flipped around and they currently sit as a team that is perceived as a joke, completely lost with no direction.

Sanchez's play on the field, while not all his fault, has been horrible and he has lost all of his confidence. The idea of Sanchez being the starting quarterback next season seems inconceivable and makes Jets fans sick.

What also might have made Jets fans queasy was the team's decision to trade their best player.

The Jets selected Darrelle Revis in the first round of the 2007 draft. Since then, the cornerback has emerged as one of the best defenders in the NFL and one of the best players to ever put on a Jets uniform.

The Jets, or Woody Johnson specifically, decided that they didn't want to pay Revis the money he deserves, so they sent him packing. They sent him to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in exchange for their 13th overall pick in the 2013 draft and a conditional selection next year.

That draft pick gives the Jets, who already own the ninth pick, two picks within the top 15. Those picks could put the Jets in a position to change the generally bad tone, feeling and overall aura surrounding them.

The Jets needs goes well beyond just a new quarterback, but it would be a good start. Sanchez might still have the ability to be a starting quarterback in the NFL, but that probably won't be with the Jets.

Gang Green's offensive line has been horrendous the last two seasons and they desperately need a tackle. This draft is loaded with offensive lineman, so grabbing one in the third round shouldn't be a problem.

They seem to have needed a pass rusher since they let John Abraham go. Two names that have been mentioned often in mock drafts for the Jets to take in the first round are Barkevious Mingo and Jarvis Jones. Both have potential to thrive in Ryan's defense.

But the most important thing the Jets need to address is their offensive attack.

The injuries of Santonio Holmes and Dustin Keller last season revealed the Jets' lack of offensive weapons. Shonn Greene and Bilal Powell gave the Jets no explosion out of the backfield, and they had no depth at wide receiver.

If the Jets decide to address their offense in the first round, they could turn around the negative feelings about their team and the upcoming season to excitement and intrigue.

They could do that by drafting Geno Smith and Tavon Austin.

Many people consider Smith to be the top-ranked quarterback in this draft class. The Jets could potentially have to make a trade to move up a few spots to grab him. But when you look at the teams that pick before the Jets, it is possible that he could fall to them at the No. 9 spot.

The Bills are apparently nervous that the Jets are going to draft Ryan Nassib in the first round, so they might take Nassib with the eighth pick. They also have been linked to Matt Barkley as well.

Smith has been recognized for his ultra-competitive nature, athleticism, arm strength and quick delivery. He ran a 4.59 40-yard dash, which makes him capable of making plays with both his arm and his legs. An athletic quarterback has become the new trend in the NFL.

Austin is a playmaker, something the Jets don't have. He is ranked as the top wide receiver on the board, after his strong performance in the combine in which he ran a 4.34 40-yard dash and a 4.01 20-yard shuttle, which were both the top of the combine.

Austin has blinding speed and is extremely athletic. His ability to accelerate allowed him to finish second in the nation in all-purpose yards as a senior.

Oh yeah, Smith was Austin's quarterback at West Virginia. 

In Smith's junior year, he was able to complete 66 percent of his passes and threw for 4,385 yards with 31 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. He also rand for 180 yards and two scores.

Last year, Smith threw for 4,205 yards, with 42 touchdowns and six interceptions, while completing 71 percent of his passes. He also added a game that season in which he was 45-of-51 and threw for 656 yards and eight touchdowns.

In that game, Austin had 14 receptions, with 215 yards and two touchdowns.

In 2012, Austin grabbed 114 receptions from Smith, with 1,289 yards and 12 touchdowns. He also added 643 yards and three touchdowns on 72 carries. 

Drafting Smith and Austin together will help Smith be more comfortable as a rookie quarterback starting in the NFL, because he will have a target he is very familiar with.

If the Jets take Smith and Austin, then draft an offensive tackle, running back and a tight end in the later rounds, their offense definitely will start to look less anemic. 

We could potentially see the face of the Jets change Thursday night if they decide to grab the quarterback and wide receiver out of West Virginia in the first round.

The combination of Smith and Austin could give the Jets a potentially explosive offense, after being so incompetent last season and could be very inspiring for Jets fans.


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