Team Needs: Jets Defense
Brian Bassett , TheJetsBlog.com
With the Jets hunkering down for the NFL Draft next week, here’s a quick review of where the team is at each position. What do they have? What do they need? We’ll make note of the spots that the Jets could look to upgrade starting as soon as next Thursday. Today we’ll do the offensive group, tomorrow the defense.
Safety — The Jets lost both their starting safeties from last year when Yeremiah Bell and LaRon Landry signed elsewhere, they also lost their third safety Eric Smith when they cut him leading up to free agency. Assuming that the secondary could look drastically different in a week’s time, safety is a position that the team can quickly upgrade to shore up the potential loss of a Pro Bowl corner in this draft class. Sure, the Jets signed Dawan Landry and more will be expected from Josh Bush. Still, it’s fair to say that in a draft class that has a high number of talented coverage safeties deep into the third day, the team might use a pick to find a player to augment their group and push to become a starter in due time.
Outside Linebacker — One way to help improve a pass defense without adding a secondary player is to get a pass rusher. The Jets have decided to move away from the Bryan Thomas and Calvin Pace duo, and while they brought back Pace this week, he might share duty with Antwan Barnes situationally. The Jets have been holding onto Ricky Sapp for a reason, and we might see it this season but the Jets have been routinely linked to the DE/OLB spot with their 9th pick in many mock drafts. The Jets haven’t had a dominant pass-rusher since John Abraham and there are a number of players who might be able to help the group from the edge. The Jets have shown some interest in lesser rated prospects, but many think that the Jets very well could draft a solid pass-rusher early on like Jones, Mingo or should they fall to nine, Jordan or even Ansah.
Defensive Tackle — The Jets lost their long-time run-stuffer Sione Pouha due to cuts and that will have to play into whatever they do at the spot in 2013. Pouha was a great find and worked well in Rex’s scheme, but he was found money for the Jets coming out of a time where Kris Jenkins couldn’t stay healthy. The same problem happened to Pouha in 2012 and his cap number was too high. The Jets have been bringing along Kenrick Ellis for such a moment, but the team also signed Antonio Garay who seems like a good fit to work situationally with Ellis. Still, if the Jets get a chance to grab one of the classes top players, they might have a tough time saying no, even after drafting two defensive linemen in the first round in the last two drafts.
Corner — We know Rex Ryan’s mantra is that you can never have too many cornerbacks and should the Jets move Darrelle Revis, they might be in the market. Even without Revis, the group is solid already with Cromartie leading the way with Kyle Wilson, Ellis Lankster and Isaiah Trufant pitching in, but the team might plan to use a mid to late round pick who could bolster the group and potentially line up on the outside should he need to. Of course, the Jets might have a hard time letting Dee Milliner slip by them at No. 9 should he still be available.