This was a make or break year for the New York Jets and head coach Rex Ryan, and so far he’s put forth arguably one of his best coaching performances of his career. The Jets have the No. 1 rush-d and the 9th ranked rushing offense, but have struggled both phases of the passing game (26th in passing offensively, 24th defensively). This is exactly where they need to prioritize their 2014 NFL Draft needs.
The Jets need a top flight No. 1 wide receiver to help young QB Geno Smith. Santonio Holmes has been OK when he’s actually played but will be due more than $10 million next season and will likely be released in the offseason. Jeremy Kerley is best suited for the slot, and Stephen Hill (43rd overall pick in 2012) hasn’t been progressing as much as the Jets would like. Hill still has the skill set to be a very good receiver, but he probably won’t ever be a No. 1 guy.
Considering the Jets will be picking in the middle of the pack of the first round, early 20s at highest, the top 3 receivers (Clemson‘s Sammy Watkins, Texas A&M‘s Mike Evans and USC‘s Marqise Lee) will more than likely be gone. Would GM John Idzik trade up for one of them? It’s a distinct possibility because he’s shown he’s not afraid to wheel and deal, but more than likely he’ll stay put at least in the first. If he stays put he’ll still have a good selection to choose from between Allen Robinson (Penn State), Donte Moncrief (Ole Miss) and Jordan Matthews (Vanderbilt). Some good second round options include Odell Beckham (LSU) and Paul Richardson (Colorado).
The Jets could also choose to go with a cornerback in the first round for the second year in a row (Dee Milliner was the Jets’ first pick last year at 9th overall). Milliner has been very slow to develop and has too often been getting beat for a big play. Still, he’s got a boatload of talent, and I maintain the belief he can be a top corner.
Moving forward, there’s not much to be excited about after that. Antonio Cromartie will be in the last year of his contract and will be due more than $10 million. Cromartie has had an up and down season for the Jets this year and hasn’t been the playmaker they’ve come to depend on in the post-Darrelle Revis world. Kyle Wilson (29th overall in 2010) should go ahead and be considered a bust and Darrin Walls is probably best suited as a nickel back.
Ohio State‘s Bradley Roby, who’s had some struggles this year but still has No. 1 corner skills, will more than likely still be on the board when the Jets are picking as well as Florida‘s Louchiez Purifoy. Either one of them paired with Milliner would give the Jets one of the best young corner tandems in the NFL.
If the Jets can improve their passing game, both offensively and defensively, this could be one heck of a team. There’s a lot of talent on this team, especially in their defensive front seven. They could just be a few pieces away from getting back to where they were at a few years ago when they went to back to back AFC Championship Games.