This year’s NFL draft is by far the most unpredictable coming into the draft since the turn of the century. Will the Rams take Chris Long or Glenn Dorsey, or will they trade the pick to the Saints? Will the Falcons blow the 3rd pick on Matt Ryan or let the Ravens bail them out? Will Oakland gets the son of their legend? What exactly are the Chiefs doing? Is Jared Allen gone? With all this uncertainty, chaos is certain. And the Jets could emerge out of it with the best playmaker in this year’s draft.
The Jets had a lot of needs going into the off-season, for which they brought out the retirement fund, the insurance money, the child support, and any other money they could possibly find to bring in a calvary of players: LG Alan Faneca, DT Kris Jenkins, RT Damien Woody, OLB/DE Calvin Pace, FB Tony Richardson, RB Jesse Chatman, DB Andre Woolfolk, TE Bubba Franks. They also signed FS Kerry Rhodes to a huge contract extension and gave WR Laveranues Coles a bunch of guaranteed money because he felt left out. The Jets must also make sure to lock up RB Leon Washington by the end of the season.
With all the signings the Jets still have areas of concern. The secondary is still bad, as the Jets only have two proven players in that area: Darrelle Revis and the aforementioned Kerry Rhodes. The Jets also need to draft at least a couple of defensive lineman to add depth and a possible replacement for Shaun Ellis, who will likely play for another team next season. The Jets still don’t have a RG to finish up the offensive line. A pure speed receiver would also be nice. Coles and Jerricho Cotchery are both solid weapons but aren’t going to burn top NFL corners. A fast deep threat weapon could open up the offense to a little more versatility; last year’s Jets offense had the versatility of a toilet plunger. Kellen Clemens didn’t get the whole playbook to work with and Chad Pennington can’t throw a deep pass more than a couple times a game. So opposing defenses either blitzed against a weak and inexperienced line or put 10 guys in the box since hanging Chad didn’t pose a deep threat.
So what should they do this weekend? This should be their board of address in their war room on Saturday:
1. Draft McFadden – If he slides to #6 and the Jets don’t take him there will be a riot at Radio City. He is the multifaceted playmaker the Jets desperately need on offense. He would help many Jets fans replace their Jonathan Vilma jerseys in the closet. Putting him in the game with Leon Washington at the same time could cause havoc for opposing defenses with both of them going out as receivers or running plays out of a bulldog-type formation. It will be hard to have linebackers cover both of them, and if you shadow one of them you allow Coles and Cotchery to roam in single coverage. McFadden might also have the best throwing arm on the roster if the Jets take him. You never know when that might come in handy.
2. Draft McFadden
3. Trade down if McFadden is gone - If you can’t, take DE Vernon Gholston. If he’s not available, then reach for DT Sedrick Ellis. But whatever you do, DO NOT take Matt Ryan. He is not a top 10 caliber quarterback, and Clemens is good enough to be the guy if given the chance for an entire season. As bad as he was at times he kept the Jets in games they had no business contending in.
4. Trade Dewayne Robertson – The Jets traded up to take him near the top of the 2003 draft because they thought he could be the next Reggie White. Whoops. This started a trend of late of the Jets trading up in the early rounds to get players. It did not work here, but last year’s moves resulted in Revis and David Harris, who surpassed Vilma’s production in his first year. The Jets first picks of the draft seem to always be boom or bust: Nick Mangold, Vilma, Santana Moss, John Abraham, Shaun Ellis, James Farrior, Keyshawn Johnson in my lifetime but also Mike Nugent, Robertson, Randy Thomas, and Dorian Boose. The Jets have packed Robertson’s bags twice already, to the Bengals and then to Denver. The problem is Robertson, who apparently got a hold of Eddy Curry’s nutritionist because he can’t pass a physical. The Jets need to find a way to get him out of town and unload his payroll at all costs. He’s not a nose-tackle; he serves no purpose as far as this team is concerned.
5. Address the secondary early – the Jets need to build around Revis and Rhodes in the next round. If Antoine Cason is still on the board the Jets need to pounce on one of the steals of the draft. He was a shutdown corner at Arizona. I don’t care about 40 yard times because I’ve never seen an NFL player run down the field in gym shorts and Under Armour. He has game speed and great instincts and can be valuable as a return man. This would allow Leon Washington to become a bigger part of the offense. Putting Cason and Revis together could provide the best duo of corners on an NFL team in 3 years. If he isn’t available and Kenny Phillips slides the Jets should take him. He would start immediately alongside Rhodes. Rhodes cannot fully play like a Troy Polamalu because the SS is not good enough to give him any insurance. Phillips can help Rhodes cover the entire field and create unique blitz packages with him and Pace that could cause trouble for opposing defenses. The Jets couldn’t force any pressure last year on opposing offenses. Getting Phillips could help that. If the Jets take Cason in the 2nd round and can trade Robertson they will have a 3rd round pick to address the SS position.
6. Find a speed receiver at some point in the draft – If it is in round 4, Appalachian State’s Dexter Jackson would be a nice choice if he is still available and would take over Brad Smith’s position in the slot by the end of the season. The Jets still haven’t replaced what Santana Moss provided for their offense.
7. Draft a quarterback in the later rounds – The Jets need some depth here. You know you need more quarterbacks when your insurance plan included Marquis Tuiasosopo. Right now Brett Ratliff is the 3rd string quarterback. Brad Smith showed last year he’s not a suitable backup at the position. If Josh Johnson is available in the 4th round he should definitely get some consideration from the Jets. He threw 43 TD’s last year to just 1 INT. He is mobile and accurate, and was coached by former NFL quarterback Jim Harbaugh for 3 years, and then had the ridiculously efficient season. He is a more polished David Garrard coming out of college. If Robertson is traded the Jets should have a couple of 4th round picks in the draft, allowing them to address the receiver and quarterback issues if the defensive lineman available don’t have good value. I know the Jets like Joe Flacco because he has a huge arm and they’ve been suffering from Pennington’s noodle-arm, but that’s all he has. He is the next Jeff George/Scott Mitchell. It would be a mistake to trade up again and lose more picks when the Jets need to fill out the roster without adding too many more free agents.
8. Trade Thomas Jones – If the Jets get McFadden, Thomas Jones needs to be dealt. McFadden and Washington would be the dynamic duo of the future at tailback, leaving Thomas Jones disgruntled about his position on the team. Especially after what happened to him in Chicago he wants to be the main guy and he still has a lot left in the tank. The Jets should be able to move him and the big contract they gave him. Having to pay McFadden and having Jones while having to lock up Washington puts way too much money in the running back position. Since the Bears know they screwed up, give them another chance and have Jones go back to his rightful place. If not the Bears, there are several teams that would be interested in trading for him. The Jets should try to get a 2nd round pick if possible, or multiple lower round picks or a player at a position of need. This would help the Jets shave down unnecessary payroll to help battle salary cap problems they will inevitably face down the road.
The Jets have shelled out the green; now its time for the green team to make the decisions to get back in the playoffs