The Jets have drafted 23 players over the last five years. This is by far the lowest in the NFL, the league average has been 38. Of those picks only seven were defensive players. This aggressive style trading pick for players moving up in the draft has allowed the team to be competitive with back to back championship game appearances. However the shelf life of a team built in this manner tends to be short. As we all saw once the roster started to turn over the replacements were not there, for example Wayne Hunter.
With a glaring need for youth, speed and athleticism the Jets 2012 NFL draft strategy will have to move in a different direction. The draft is a complicated process. Top prospects often fail, Vlad Ducasse selected 61st overall, while others later round picks often flourish, Matt Slauson selected 193rd. I’m not saying the team will find late round Pro Bowlers left and right but the fact is if you draft four players there is no way six will work out.
Here’s what I think will happen:
- The Jets will trade back in the first round and get a pick or two more. This will also allow some flexibility to trade up in other rounds.
- They will concentrate on defense. Yes the offense needs help but the team is going to win with defense. This aging defense needs replacements for this year and next as older high priced players move on.
- They will draft for their needs as well as for the future. Here’s an example, tight end is not a glaring need but Dustin Keller is an unrestricted free agent after next year and may not be able to be retained.
Hopefully a crop of young talent will allow the team to continue to have success while helping the salary cap situation allowing some personnel flexibility and depth something the team sorely lacks.