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Frank Barone

The NFL Draft and the New York Jets

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By JetNation Columnist
Frank Baron

The resolution of John Abraham’s situation will impact the Jets entire draft and it’s philosophy. If he is franchised and traded there could be a higher probability that the Jets will go with a defensive player with the 4th pick in the draft. This would also influence their positional needs. This scenario might make Mario Williams, defensive end from North Carolina St. their number one selection. He is being compared to being as good or better than Julius Peppers of the Carolina Panthers.

Quarterback:
This is obviously a big question mark on this team. The Jets have to go into next year with the mindset that Chad Pennington will not be ready and plan accordingly. They have so much money invested in Chad Pennington that a high profile QB like Matt Leinart of USC or Vince Young of Texas, would not be feasible salary cap wise, even if available to pick.

Look for a combination of an experienced QB to be brought in with the drafting of a QB to groom and learn. I am another one that likes what they have seen of Jay Cutler of Vanderbilt. He has proven in college to be a tough competitor- his major question mark in my opinion is that in college he never really had a high-pressure game to play and perform in. This could be more of a reflection on the status of Vanderbilt football than his abilities.

Players that might be worthwhile options in the later rounds are Bruce Gradkowski out of Toledo, Drew Olsen of UCLA or Paul Pinegar of Fresno State. Pinegar had a down season as a senior but has the tools that could make him a viable choice at QB.

Offensive Tackle:
The loss of Kareem Mckenzie turned out to be bigger than expected. The Jets need a stud at tackle to correct the sub par job done in pass protection and to be able to open some holes for the running game that was so lacking from the offensive line this year. The one good aspect of this draft is the tackle position is deep in good prospects so it turns out to be a good year to be looking for one for the Jets sake.

D’Brickashaw Ferguson of Virginia , Winston Justice of USC and Marcus McNeil from Auburn are at the head of the tackle class. Either one could solidify the tackle position for many years in the future. We have to remember that the offensive line position is a learning curve area- you cannot expect a rookie on the offensive line to come into the league and dominate. The Jets must show some degree of patience if this is the route they take with their number 4 pick.

Running Back:
Curtis Martin will be 33 years old and coming off surgery. That combination is enough to see the urgency to get a playmaker at the running back position into the organization. The ideal situation would be for Curtis to restructure and retire as a Jet with a more limited role in the future. Cedric Houston showed some potential when he was given some playing time. Is he a feature back, or someone to share in a rotation at running back? Another big question for Eric Mangini and staff to decide.

Laurence Maroney of Minnesota and Joseph Addai of LSU are two potential guys that could be good fits for the Jets. Maroney was very productive at Minnesota and Addai showed good flexibility in both running and pass catching out of the backfield.

Defensive Tackle:
It seems like this was a major miscalculation by the front office on the loss of Jason Ferguson impact having on our run defense. The James Reed, Lance Legree and Sione Pioha combination turned out to be a misjudgment by former General Manager Bradway and the coaching staff to be able to handle the interior defense.

Gabe Watson of Michigan and Haloti Ngata of Oregon are two players that can be the run stuffers we seek in the middle of our defense. Watson had a little bit of a down senior year but has the athleticism you want. Ngata is tough and athletic, a great combination. It could be tough for Jet followers to swallow a high pick on another defensive tackle though.

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