This is the third article in my 32 part Draft Take series leading up to the NFL Draft.
The Jets made it all the way to the AFC Championship game as a number six seed for the second season in a row, yet for the second straight year, they fell just short of making it to the big game. Mike Tannenbaum has done a pretty solid job so far in New York, and Rex Ryan is quickly becoming a top head coach in the NFL. They will have a lot of big decisions to make on free agents this season, but they have enough talent that they can still contend for a title next season even if they lose a couple of their big free agents.
Mark Sanchez can be inconsistent at times, but not many quarterbacks can say that they took their team to the conference championship game in their first two seasons. Sure, he’s been helped by the talent around him, but he still has the raw talent and intangibles to lead his team to greatness. LaDainian Tomlinson is starting to slow down, but he can still be effective in a tandem backfield with Shonn Greene. Joe McKnight could take over for L.T. in a season or two, but he wasn’t very impressive in his rookie year. The receiving core could look very different next season, as Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards, and Brad Smith are all free agents. I expect Holmes to be back, but I doubt that you will see all three of these guys back in New York next year. Dustin Keller is one of the better young tight ends in the league. The offensive line is pretty solid all round, and are led by pro bowlers D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold. The one question mark is at right tackle, where Damien Woody was recently released.
The defense was pretty impressive last season, but there are some question marks heading into next season. Shaun Ellis is nearing the end, and Kris Jenkins was released after missing most of yet another season. Sione Pouha played well last season, but the Jets may look for a long term option at nose tackle. Look for the Jets to take, at the very least, one defensive lineman in the upcoming draft. The Jets are set at inside linebacker, as David Harris is one of the top linebackers in the NFL and Bart Scott is still playing at a high level. The problem is at the outside linebacker positions, where Calvin Pace and Bryan Thomas are expected to be the starters. The Jets could obviously do a lot worse at this position, but they need to find some long term options, especially after the release of big time bust Vernon Gholston. The Jets have one of the top cornerback tandems in the league in Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie. Kyle Wilson struggled in his rookie season, but he’s got a lot of potential. Jim Leonhard and Brodney Pool make up a solid, yet unspectacular safety tandem.