Link: How Much Help Does This Team Need?

Brian Bassett , TheJetsBlog.com

Recently a power ranking came out that had the Jets ranked 31st in the league.  Based on the team’s quarterback woes and the potential departure of Darrelle Revis, it’s easy to see why national writers might feel that way, but I think that the draft will be a major determiner for what this team’s potential can be.  Can they get the right players to make an impact and stabilize the positions of real concern?

If you’re not an ESPN Insider, you might not be able to read this article by Mel Kiper Jr., but it’s a great one about the Jets and their 2013 outlook based on their the cleaning of the roster in the past couple of months and while there’s real needs for the team, some of the team’s recent subtractions could well be additions.  While others are lumping the Jets into the group of one of the weakest rosters in the league, Kiper says there’s some reasons for hope for the Jets in 2013.

In the article, Kiper says that the quarterback play likely can’t be worse than it was in 2012, that the running back spot won’t skip a beat with the loss of Shonn Greene and that Rex Ryan is smart enough to know how to scheme his way to a decent defense.  

Still the Jets are going to need to find some starters to plug in during the first four or so rounds, and Kiper has some ideas:

Even if the offense is bound to be a little better in 2013, I still think the Jets need to add at least one “fear factor” element via the draft. By that I mean a player who can create explosive plays or clear matchup problems. Because the value range for that player isn’t really at No. 9 — unless they go for a guy like Tavon Austin or Cordarrelle Patterson that early — the Jets could consider trading down to pick up an extra first-, second- or even an early third-round pick.

This is a draft with a decent amount of depth at tight end, so finding a replacement for Keller in Round 2 or 3 could be an option, and adding another wideout who can cause safeties to play a little deeper — Justin HunterDa’Rick Rogers and Terrance Williams come to mind — could be had after the first round.

The Jets also need help on the offensive line (right tackle was a pass protection issue last season), but they could certainly find help at that position beyond the first round.

One other reality of this draft that could help the Jets is the fact that the safety class is really deep. Even if it’s a third- or fourth-round pick, the Jets could find some immediate help at that currently depleted position.

That’s why I like this draft class so much.  The Jets have needs at skill positions, the offensive line, outside linebacker and safety and there’s players to be had that can get plugged into the Jets team immediately.  I don’t think it’s unreasonable that, should the Jets play their cards right, end up with three starters out of the first four rounds along with one or two guys who might win a starting job even after being drafted below that point.  Should the Jets be able to iron out a deal with the Bucs for an early pick this year and another player could be added to that tally.  

Drafting well offers no certainty that the Jets will make major strides in 2013. But by health, subtraction and development alone they could have a chance to be a little better at the skill positions. Remember that Ryan also has an uncanny ability to piece together an above-average defense and there should be reasons for hope.

It all starts at quarterback, but at least the new front office is taking a healthier approach to the idea of competition at the position headed into a new season. Every year we see teams we reflexively wrote off before the season make major strides and land back in the playoffs. The Jets were a total disaster in 2012 yet were still 6-10. This isn’t a total rebuild; it’s a team that could get better both through the draft and because, in some areas, it’ll be hard-pressed to play any worse.

I like all of what Kiper says there, but for me the money quote is the one about the “healthier approach” to competition.  Rex’s refusal to pull Sanchez until too late could have cost the team a few games.  Rex’s dragging his feet on moving away from Shonn Greene was also problematic. Rex is loyal, but sometimes loyal to a fault and I think we saw the worst-case scenario of that in 2012.  Removing players like Shonn Greene from the equation is a good thing  and should clear the waters allowing the best player to actually get the most carries.  I love Rex for what he can do with a defense and with Morhinweg in-house, the offense feels like it could finally be in the right caretaker’s hands.  Now they just need to build a roster of players who can help them get where they want to go.