While Jets fans and the rest of the NFL world are focused on which QB the team will draft with the #3 overall pick, there are still key positions that need to be addressed with their middle and late round picks. GM Mike Maccagnan certainly has his work cut out for him to round out the Jets roster, especially after trading away both of their second-round picks to the Colts. The Jets are in desperate need of an edge rusher, and can still use depth along the offensive line, a tight end, and a game-breaking running back. Let’s dive into some of the positions of need.
The Jets have been looking for a true edge rusher since the days of John Abraham. From Vernon Gholston, Quinton Coples, and most recently Lorenzo Mauldin, Gang Green has been unable to uncover a pass-rushing specialist through the draft. Although Mauldin showed potential in his rookie season with 4 sacks and 12 Quarterback hits, he spent last season on injured reserve after an up and down sophomore season. LB Jordan Jenkins has been a nice addition at the position, but rushing the passer isn’t exactly his forte as he’s better suited at setting the edge and stopping the run.
A few options that the Jets can look at in the third-round of the draft this Friday are DE Dorance Armstrong or LB Lorenzo Carter. Armstrong uses his long arms and quickness to come off the edge. He totaled 15.5 sacks from 2015-2017 for Kansas. 10 of those sacks and 20 tackles for a loss came during the 2016 season. Carter is an athletic, versatile LB that can rush the passer or drop back in coverage. Even though his numbers don’t jump off the page with 14.5 sacks over 4 seasons at Georgia, he should still be able to grow and be an immediate contributor for a team that is lacking at the position.
Pro Football Focus’ 30th ranked offensive line 2017, the Jets allowed the 6th most sacks in the league with 25. They need to upgrade and add depth to the unit which clearly struggled last season. The 5 projected starters along the line figure to be Kelvin Beachum, James Carpenter, newly signed Spencer Long, Brian Winters, and Brandon Shell. Long was a solid acquisition but injuries are always a concern with him as he hasn’t played a full 16 game season since entering the league in 2014.
If the Jets can land one of Oklahoma’s OT Orlando Brown, or Nevada’s G/C Austin Corbett it would give their offensive line a much-needed infusion of youth and talent. Both linemen have the size and technique to excel in the NFL but may need some time to put it all together. Corbett particularly could be a great selection since his versatility at guard and center would provide protection should the injury-prone Spencer Long be forced to miss time.
With the departure of Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Gang Green has a glaring hole to fill at the tight end position. The recent acquisitions of Bucky Hodges and Clive Walford are low risk, high reward moves but offer depth more than anything else. Former 2017 fifth-round pick Jordan Leggett still has a lot to prove while Neal Sterling is untested and Eric Tomlinson is better known for his skills in the blocking game. If an athletic, pass-catching tight end such as Mike Gesicki or Mark Andrews is available when the Jets are on the clock with the 72nd pick, they may decide to pull the trigger.
Both Gesicki and Andrews excel as receivers but offer very little in terms of blocking. In 2017 at Penn State, Gesicki compiled 57 receptions, 563 yards, and 9 touchdowns while Andrews totalled 62 receptions, 958 yards, and 8 touchdowns for Oklahoma. Andrews may be an ideal fit should the team draft fellow Sooner, QB Baker Mayfield. As we know the tight end can be a young Quarterback’s security blanket so New York would be wise to secure some young talent at the position.
Although running back doesn’t seem to be an area of need with at least four already on the roster in Bilal Powell, Isaiah Crowell, Elijah McGuire, and Thomas Rawls there is still a chance that the Jets add a home-run threat in the third-round given the depth of this class. N.C. State’s speedster, Nyheim Hines could be an option for the Green & White as we illustrated in our mock draft 2.0. Hines ran a 4.38 40-yard dash at last month’s combine and is a jack of all trades as he offers potential in the running game, as a pass-catcher, and as a returner. In his three seasons at North Carolina, he totalled 1400 rushing yards, 13 touchdowns, and averaged 5.4 Yards Per Carry while adding 89 receptions for 933 yards.
If the Jets do draft an RB this early look for them to try to trade Bilal Powell for a day 3 pick but it won’t be easy. Powell will be 30-years-old in October and is due to make $4 million in 2018, but he still has some value as a runner and pass-catcher. It’s also possible that Thomas Rawls does not make the team out of training camp this summer which would create a spot for a rookie RB.
It’s obvious that the Jets and GM Mike Maccagnan will have a lot of work to do this weekend to improve the team. With so many holes to plug along the roster and only 5 picks after the first-round, they must come away with an impact player in the third-round of the draft. Let’s see if Maccagnan can work his magic and unearth a mid-round gem.