We are over two months removed from the 2017 Super Bowl and over a month removed from the beginning of free agency. The next big event on the NFL calendar is the 2017 NFL Draft which begins on Thursday, April 27. Leading up to the big night there is a lot of speculation on who goes where. The New York Jets will begin this year’s draft with the number six overall pick. With that pick and the rest of their picks, they will try to address their most dire needs heading into the 2017 season and beyond. The following three positions are among the top Jets 2017 NFL Draft needs.
New York Jets 2017 NFL Draft: Top 3 Needs
Whoever is under center for the Jets in 2017 will need a stronger offensive line than last year to succeed. That is especially imperative if he is inexperienced.
The Jets are in a tough position when it comes to the offensive line. With how weak the line is, they could use some top talent at the position. However, no offensive lineman is worth the sixth overall pick.
Therefore it makes sense for both the present and the future to consider trading back like general manager Mike Maccagnan has been opened to doing.
The Jets are currently looking at a potential offensive line of Kelvin Beachum at left tackle, James Carpenter at left guard, Wesley Johnson at center, Brian Winters at right guard, and Brandon Shell or Ben Ijalana at right tackle.
Both Shell and Johnson are inexperienced but showed signs of success last season. Winters and Carpenter are both solid options at guard. Ijalana did fine last season rotating around the offensive line and earned a two-year, $11 million contract. Beachum signed a three-year, $24 million deal with the Jets this off-season.
The Jets look good at both guard positions, but could certainly use some talent at the tackle position. They may be able to live with Johnson at center. However, in whatever round the Jets pursue an offensive lineman, if the best player available is a center, then they shouldn’t hesitate to draft him.
The Darrelle Revis that the league has come to know and love imploded in 2016 and produced the worst season of his career by far (not including his injury-shortened 2012).
So while 2017 will technically be the Jets first year without Revis since 2014, the team already knows what it’s like to be without him and it’s not pretty.
Pro Football Focus ranked the Jets secondary as the 23rd in the NFL following the 2016 campaign. However, that also included the safety position as well which had better production. Marcus Gilchrist got the top overall grade (77.1) and top coverage grade (75.5), while Calvin Pryor got the top run-defense grade (79.3). Those two players boosted the secondary’s overall positioning on the list.
Opposing quarterbacks had a 104.2 passer rating when targeting Revis in 2016 compared to their 60.4 passer rating against him in his career. Revis’ coverage grade was still close to league average in the end. Buster Skrine had similar coverage stats, but was left with a lower grade due to his five penalties on the year.
The Jets acquisition of Morris Claiborne gives them a talented former first-round pick at the position with some drawbacks. He has yet to realize his full potential and during the flashes where he has come close, he has succumbed to injury.
The Jets currently have a nice amount of potential and depth at the position, but what they really need is an impact player who can lead and stand out. Marshon Lattimore, Quincy Wilson, and Tre’Davious White are three such players, but would all likely cost a first round pick.
Some may question the absence of quarterback on this list. It is true, the Jets have one of the worst quarterback situations in the entire NFL. However, unless the Jets use their number six pick on a quarterback, any other pick would be wasteful. With Petty, Josh McCown, and Christian Hackenberg on the team, a later round pick would only provide ‘competition.’ Even using their first round pick would be risky. Drafting a early-round project like Mitch Trubisky would replicate drafting Hackenberg with the second-round pick a year ago.
“Many evaluators believe he has the tools to succeed in the NFL, but he’ll need time to develop in the right system,” Rich Cimini writes about Trubisky in an article this week for ESPN.
The Jets still have to see what they have in Hackenberg anyway. Another quarterback would pose a problem rather than a solution.
Long story short, filling the tight end position with talent is more imperative at the moment. The Jets have had abysmal offensive production from the position in 2015 and 2016. The acquisition of Austin Seferian-Jenkins had the potential to work out and still could, but his two-game suspension to start the season makes that difficult.
While drafting O.J. Howard in the first round would make an instant impact at the position for the Jets, almost any tight end the team drafts would make the position stronger than it is currently. Jake Butt, Jeremy Sprinkle, Jordan Leggett, and Gerald Everett are just some of the names that may be available for Gang Green in round two and beyond.