The New York Jets could not have been happier with the play of their defensive line this seasons, as Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson and Damon Harrison formed arguably the best front line in the NFL. Kenrick Ellis and Leger Douzable were solid backups, and Douzable is the only defensive lineman the Jets have hitting free agency. It is obvious that this position will be John Idzik’s lowest priority this offseason, but there still could be one or two additions to provide depth and injury insurance.
I expect the Jets to re-sign Douzable, but they would be well served to go into next season with more than five defensive linemen on their roster. Additionally, Ellis will be a free agent after next season, so the Jets may want to look for another nose tackle to back up Harrison for the long term. The Jets should not even consider drafting a defensive lineman before the fifth round (unless the value is just way too good to pass up) due to the plethora of needs they have elsewhere on their roster.
However, Rex Ryan loves building his D-line, so never rule out the possibility of the Jets adding someone on Day 3 of the draft. Two names that could be brought up late in the draft at defensive tackle are Beau Allen of Wisconsin and DeAndre Coleman of Cal. Each player could provide a long term alternative to Ellis at nose tackle, allowing the Jets to reset without spending much money. There are few solid late round options at end as well, including Alabama’s Ed Stinson, Oregon’s Taylor Hart and Stanford’s Ben Gardner. Any of those players could provide additional depth or an outright replacement for Douzable.
Although there are certainly options available in the draft, I believe that the Jets want to save their picks for more pressing needs. That means that it is more likely that any additions to the defensive line will come in free agency. At tackle, the Jets could look at a player like Terrence Cody, who is still young enough to improve but should be available on the cheap. They could also look for a veteran with better pass rushing skills, such as Jeremiah Ratliff (formerly Jay).
At end, Ziggy Hood looks like a player who could be very useful for the Jets. Hood would be a definite upgrade over Douzable, providing insurance in case Wilkerson or Richardson were to miss time. He would be a little pricey, but it could be worth it for the peace of mind that comes with knowing they have a reliable backup for their two star ends. Former Jets Kenyon Coleman and Ropati Pitoitua could be under consideration as well due to their familiarity with Ryan’s defensive system.
In truth, there is a very good chance the Jets do nothing with their defensive line besides re-sign Douzable. Their line was so good this season that there really isn’t any reason to change anything. If they feel like they need more depth than any of the above players could be considered as long as the price is right, but this will undoubtedly be the quietest position for the Jets this offseason.