Most New York Jets fans are trying to forget about the team’s offense, and apparently so is the front office.
The Jets went defense with both of their first round picks in the NFL Draft taking cornerback Dee Milliner at No. 9 and defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson at No. 13.
In a vacuum both are solid players, but in the context of this Jets team, both picks are puzzling.
The initial and popular justification to the Milliner pick is “of course, they had to replace Darrelle Revis,” but do they really? Just because you break up with your girlfriend doesn’t mean you immediately need to find another girlfriend. Take some time to see what else is out there. Try something different. If she was blonde, why not flirt with the brunette who can also block for your underachieving quarterback and lackluster run game?
This isn’t even taking into account that the Jets were fine at corner after the Revis trade. The duo of Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson were proficient last year in Revis’s absence. According to Football Outsiders’ DVOA, the Jets ranked ninth overall in team defense, tenth in pass defense and fifth defending the opponent’s No. 1 receiver. That doesn’t sound like a team that needed to use the No. 9 overall pick on a corner.
Taking Milliner that early sends the wrong message. Even if the Jets don’t want Milliner to think he’s replacing Revis, he is. Why else would they draft him days after trading the team’s star corner? The events are too close not to link. The Jets might as well give Milliner Revis’s old locker and jersey No. 24 to complete the transition.
This isn’t to say Milliner won’t be a productive player, but given the state of the current Jets roster, waiting a round or two for a corner might have made more sense.
The Richardson pick at No. 13 is more difficult to comprehend. Richardson is listed as a defensive tackle, but at under 300 pounds is a little small to play the middle of a three man front. If he can’t play nose tackle, that shifts him to the end where Muhammad Wilkerson and Quinton Coples occupy the starting spots. If there’s one position the Jets didn’t need to address it was defensive end. Sure, the big brother in the stadium the New York Giants have been successful by loading up on defensive end after defensive end, but those Giants teams did not have as many other needs as the Jets currently do.
Richardson would be a good pick for a team looking for a 4-3 tackle, but he already seems misplaced in Rex Ryan’s defensive scheme.
Both of these picks completely ignored an offense that at best is below average. Tavon Austin — who could have been the target for pick No. 9 — was taken away at No. 8, right before the Jets could take him. This did lead to the one bright spot of the night for the Jets that those in the war room didn’t panic and reach for a receiver like Cordarrelle Patterson at No. 13 after Austin was taken off the board.
The Jets now have to address the offense in some capacity on the second day of the draft. Tight end Zach Ertz and wide receiver Robert Woods could be good options in the second round when the seventh pick of the second round (No. 39 overall) comes around.
Quarterbacks Geno Smith, Ryan Nassib and Matt Barkley could also be available at that pick, if the Jets choose to go in that direction. If they do, they would still have the same problem as Mark Sanchez in having no offensive weapons to utilize — though if Jets fans are looking for a silver lining, none of those three quarterbacks are, in fact, Mark Sanchez.
The Jets spent the first round ignoring offense. If they don’t find some pieces in the middle rounds, opposing defenses might be able to ignore it too.
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