A solid draft could put Ryan and the Jets over the top.
You're obviously doing something right when you come a game away from the Super Bowl in two consecutive seasons. While they haven't reached their goal just yet, there is little doubt that the New York Jets are among the NFL's best teams and will be in contention to finally reach the Super Bowl in 2011.
However, they're a veteran team that lacks youth in some pretty key areas, so like any good team, they need to continue focusing on getting better. That has everything to do with the NFL Draft, where the Jets have seen both utter failures and some encouraging bright spots in recent years.
Here's a look at some potential picks through the first four rounds, along with analysis:
Round One (Pick 30) — Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland
The Jets aren't likely to hang onto both of their free agent receivers (Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards), and could even stand to upgrade over Jerricho Cotchery. Smith would be a welcome addition as a speedy receiver who can make plays after the catch.
Round Three (Pick 94) — Brooks Reed, OLB, Arizona
New York really needs to add another stud outside rusher. They've had past draft picks that didn't work out, and they're only getting older at linebacker. There's a chance Reed isn't here in the third round, but he'd be perfect for the Jets, as he's excellent in pursuit and can really put pressure on the quarterback.
What should New York do in the first round?
Round Four (Pick 125) — Tyler Sash, SS, Iowa
Eric Smith can't be the answer at strong safety, and Jim Leonhard might be too small, and now has some durability concerns. Sash is a very physical safety who can help against the run, while his coverage skills are improving. Even free safety can probably be upgraded for New York, but strong safety definitely needs some attention.
Other possibilities: Jermale Hines, Mike Mohamad, Ugo Chinasa
This really feels like a New York Jets-style draft. They can protect themselves on offense in case they lose one of their star receivers, and even if they bring them both back, the depth and speed certainly can be used.
With the offense stretched out a bit more, two major needs on defense can be addressed, while Reed and Sash have the physicality and potential to be true impact players right away. Rex Ryan knows he needs to add a spark on offense, but his bread and butter is defense, and he shouldn't disappoint this year.
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