2011 NFL Draft | New York Jets Team Needs
The New York Jets screamed “Super Bowl champions” dating all the way back to the pre-season and HBO’s Hard Knocks. However, it was the Jets being handed some hard knocks once again, as they lost their second straight AFC title game.
Still, the Jets saw Mark Sanchez make solid strides, while the team at least came together and now knows exactly how good it is: a complete game away from reaching their goal.
The Jets need to resign and bring in some key free agents, while a solid draft could give them the young juice necessary to put the final pieces of the puzzle together.
Biggest Needs: WR, RB, QB
The New York Jets opened up things a bit more than in 2009, as they had the luxury of having two explosive wide receivers in Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards. However, both of those receivers are entering free agency in the offseason, so the Jets will have to decide which one is more valuable, and its extremely unlikely they will retain both.
Regardless of who the Jets bring back, they will need to add another elite receiver to pair them with, as Jerricho Cotchery and the rest of the crew just won’t cut it. If they bring Holmes back, they’ll be looking for a bigger receiver, and Jonathan Baldwin would be a perfect addition at the 30th spot. His great combination of size and play-making ability would help the Jets continue to stretch the field. If they choose to simply add the best talent, they could go for a more explosive option like Titus Young or Torrey Smith, both of which have elite NFL speed and could be used in a number of ways.
The other big question is at running back, where the Jets aren’t quite committed to bringing the aging LaDainian Tomlinson back. They dropped Thomas Jones after arguably his best season of his career, and LT didn’t prove to be the difference make they hoped he’d be, so it could be time to go separate ways. Shonn Greene would step into the full-time role, which would have New York looking for a speedy complement. DeMarco Murray could fall to them in round three, and he has the speed they’d be looking for.
Mark Sanchez made great strides early in 2010, but became pretty inconsistent in the second half of the season. He’s still growing and maturing, but the Jets still think they have their franchise quarterback on their roster. However, if he were to ever go down with a significant injury, New York is currently looking at Mark Brunell or Kellen Clemens as their replacement options. That’s just bad news for everybody. Look for the Jets to at least consider adding a smart passer like Christian Ponder or Nathan Enderle in the fourth or fifth round.
The Jets could also afford to patch up their depth across their offensive line, but no major upgrades are needed.
Biggest Needs: OLB, SS, ILB
Any Rex Ryan defense needs to stay active and aggressive, and while most in New York wouldn’t care to admit it, that probably means getting younger. Jason Taylor may not be back, and the Jets really aren’t overly young in their line-backing corps. If the Jets can land a versatile pass rusher like Justin Houstin, they might pull the trigger in the first round. Another outside pass rusher that would be of major interest is Bruce Carter, who should be there at the 30th pick.
Their cornerback situation is excellent, providing they retain free agent Antonio Cromartie. If they don’t, they may have to look at Colorado’s Jimmy Smith with their first pick. There’s a good chance they keep Cromartie, though, so strong safety ends up being their next biggest concern. Eric Smith isn’t the long-term answer, and as much as Rex Ryan loves Jim Leonhard, he probably isn’t the answer, either. The Jets could easily take a look at both Ahmad Black and DeAndre McDaniel at the 30th spot. If they opt to get their pass rusher there, the third round could present them Iowa’s Tyler Sash, although it’d be a bit of a reach.
As stated above, the Jets aren’t getting any younger on defense, not to mention the fact that one of their top defenders and leaders, David Harris, could be lost to free agency. Harris could be gone and Bart Scott is getting up there, so it could be time for the Jets to add some youth in the middle of their defense. Casey Matthews is a big name that could be there for the picking in the third round, while the Jets could reach at the end of the first and grab Quan Sturdivant. There’s plenty of talent at inside linebacker, and the Jets would be crazy not to add a young guy this year.
Overall, the Jets are still built for a Super Bowl run, and probably so for the next few years. They need to make use of their drafts, though, and the best way to do that is to add young impact defenders that can be groomed over the next 1-2 seasons. The other major thing is replacing any star offensive players that leave. If they fill the major holes, the Jets won’t have any trouble making the playoffs and discussing Super Bowl possibilities for years to come.