After a frenzied start to free agency, things have cooled around the NFL and now, all sights are set on the NFL draft. Come May 8th, every discerning eye will be transfixed on the Radio City Music Hall, where teams will be making selections that could greatly alter the landscape of the league. Here at Swing Sports, we'll be taking a look at the state of all 32 teams leading up to the draft.
New York Jets
2013 Record - 8-8 (3-3 AFC East)
Key Additions: Eric Decker, Michael Vick, Breno Giacomini, Jacoby Ford, Dimitri Patterson
Key Losses: Antonio Cromartie (cut), Austin Howard (signed OAK), Santonio Holmes (cut), Mark Sanchez (cut), Vladimir Ducasse (signed MIN)
Re-signings: Nick Folk, Calvin Pace, Willie Colon, Leger Douzable
# of Picks in the Draft: 12
Team Needs: CB, WR, OG, OLB
Off-Season Thus Far
GM John Idzik, Coach Rex Ryan and the New York Jets entered free agency primed with a ton of cash to spend and even more holes to fill. Many fans were expecting the Jets to make a splash on Day One with numerous free agents available that could fill team needs. The Jets, however, chose to remain quiet and you could almost hear Jets Nation groaning, "Same Old Jets," as free agent after free agent flew off the board.
That said, Idzik has lived up to his penchant of being patient and opted to plug holes with veterans and small contracts. A year ago, the Jets Front Office gave a one year contract to Willie Colon and the deal worked out superbly. Colon started sixteen games and helped to make Gang Green's offensive line a force.
Not all, however, has been quiet on the eastern front. The Jets have made numerous moves that could be deemed "splashy." The signing of the, arguably, number one Wide Receiver on the market in Eric Decker was much needed for the Jets anemic passing attack. Regardless if you think he's a number one option, his sure hands and steady demeanor will pay dividends for the offense. Michael Vick, outside of the media uproar he may cause in the New York market, is a solid, if oft injured, Quarterback that can push Geno Smith to be better, and perhaps even start. Finally, the recent signing of dynamic return man and Wide Receiver Jacoby Ford could provide a much needed spark to the Jets return game which performed surprisingly poor last year after the retirement of Special Teams Coordinator Mike Westhoff.
The New York Jets, as they stand today, are far from a finished product. Regardless of the signing of Dimitri Patterson over the weekend, Rex Ryan is still quaking at the glaring hole at the #2 (or maybe #1, depending on what you think of Dee Milliner), Cornerback spot and Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg could still use some weapons to implement his spread attack.
Idzik will have twelve selections in the coming draft, a number that he must be salivating over. In addition to being known as a "numbers guy," he wants to build this team through the draft, much like he helped the Seahawks do in his previous post. This year's crop of players is flush with talent at the Wide Receiver and Cornerback position, so look for the Jets to strike at one (or both) of those positions in the first two rounds. With that in mind, I would not be surprised if the Jets Front Office selected the best player available. If you remember correctly, defensive line wasn't exactly a glaring need for the Jets last year and Sheldon Richardson now looks like a steal at thirteenth overall.
Potential First Round Picks
Justin Gilbert, CB - The Oklahoma State product had a stellar last season in Stillwater where he recorded six interceptions with two returned for touchdowns. Gilbert is Rex Ryan's dream, a tall (6 foot), thick (202 lbs.) and fast (4.37 forty yard dash) corner who could step into the Jet's man scheme and start from day one. While Gilbert has been criticized for his lack of toughness at times, Rex Ryan's scheme doesn't ask Cornerbacks to stuff the run too often.
Marqise Lee, WR - Lee, the 2012 winner of the Biletnikoff trophy at USC (as nation's top receiver), has seen his stock slip a little bit over the past few months. His history of injuries is a red flag, but when on, this kid is an absolute stud. While he won't blow you away with any of his measurables, such as his 4.57 forty yard dash at the combine, Lee just has it when it comes to finding space in a defense. His savvy route running, knack for creating separation and ability to squeak through traffic would be ideal for the scheme Mornhinweg has put in place.
Calvin Pryor, S - Pryor, out of Louisville, is an absolute force when it comes to the run. He can step into the box and lower the boom when necessary. With the man schemes that the Jets run, the Strong Safeties are often asked to step into the box to support against the run. While the Jets are bullish on Antonio Allen, with former teammate Antonio Cromartie going as far as to call his athletic ability "freakish," Dawan Landry and former sixth round pick Josh Bush don't appear to be the answer at Strong Safety. Look for the Jets to snap up Pryor if they feel the available Cornerbacks and Wide Receivers are a reach at #18.
- Jets fans have to be absolutely razzed that the front office didn't make a run at Darelle Revis. Although reports have ranged all the way from Revis had the Jets as his number one option to he'd never play in New York again, Revis has proved time and time again that money talks, and the Jets had a lot of it.
- In a similar vein, how could the Jets have not offered a contract to keep Antonio Cromartie in town. Either Idzik and Rex are convinced Dee Milliner can continue his exceptional play from the end of the season, or the Jets doctors were a little too worried about that nagging hip injury on Cromartie.
- It's said that the Jets are one of the prime suitors for Chris Johnson should he be released by the Titans. I like this move. With a power back like Chris Ivory to spell him and a solid, if not stellar, offensive line in tow, I could see CJ2K running through some gaping holes.
- Idzik and Ryan have been incredibly patient this offseason and I think it's justified. While every Jet fan hoped they would make numerous large moves, this team is still one or two years from truly contending. Remaining steadfast to the plan and not overpaying free agents could pay dividends when the Jets have to resign their own.