With the 2012 NFL Draft right around the corner, we here at Rant Sports are doing our own mock draft, with each featured NFL writer representing their team’s selection in the upcoming April draft.
The New York Jets are in an interesting spot this year, coming off a disappointing 8-8 season, and they find themselves right in the middle of the first round, with the 16th overall pick.
There’s a lot of ways the Jets could play it, depending on what’s available by the time they’re on the clock.
They certainly could use that elusive bonafide pass rusher that Rex Ryan has never had in his Jets tenure. A player who can make an immediate impact off the edge would make Ryan’s defense very scary.
Players like North Carolina’s Quinton Coples, Alabama’s Courtney Upshaw and South Carolina’s Melvin Ingram are all possibilities for that role, but they may all get taken before the Jets have a chance at them.
By the time I was on the clock representing the Jets, I narrowed the pick down to three possible candidates. Alabama safety Mark Barron, Illinois pass rusher Whitney Mercilus, and Clemson pass rusher Andre Branch.
It was a tough choice, because both positions represent areas of need, but ultimately I did not believe either of the two pass rushers would necessarily be particularly good value picks with the 16th overall pick.
The current safeties on the Jets roster include the much-maligned Eric Smith and recent pick-up LaRon Landry, and the best pass rusher is former Buffalo Bills bust Aaron Maybin, who had a breakout 2011.
Ryan and the Jets have often been able to scheme around their weaknesses on defense, but in the first round of this year’s draft, they have to fill a need at one of these two crucial positions, either safety or pass rusher.
After some deliberation and weighing the pros and cons of each potential pick, I’m going with Mark Barron, the 22-year-old safety from the University of Alabama with the 16th pick of the Rant Sports 2012 NFL Mock Draft.
The 6’2, 215 lb senior started the past three seasons in the Alabama secondary, winning two national championships along the way.
He was a unanimous 2011 1st-team All-American and a finalist for the 2011 Jim Thorpe Award, giving annually to the nation’s top defensive back.
Barron missed the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine after having offseason surgery to repair a double hernia, but it shouldn’t affect his availability during OTAs and offseason workouts.
What do you think, Jets fans? Would Barron be a good fit for Rex Ryan’s defense, or is there another first-round prospect you’ve got your eye on? Sound off in the comments below.