NFL New York Jets

5 NFL Draft Prospects Who Could Be Instant Starters For New York Jets

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5 NFL Draft Prospects Who Could Be Instant Starters For New York Jets

New York Jets
Richard Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Jets, against all odds, still managed to earn a commendable 8-8 record considering just how awful their offense was. Rookie QB Geno Smith predictably struggled while forced to make plays with D+ talent around him. While the offense struggled, the defense was one of the premier units in the NFL. 2014 has to be the year in which the offense takes positive steps towards matching the defense.

The New York Jets finished 29th in the league in points per game with just over 18. The defense finished 19th in points allowed with just over 24 per game, but the unit had no chance to succeed with a terrible offense supporting them.

The 2014 offseason for the New York Jets features a lot of tough decisions as far as the current roster is concerned. Offensively, do the Jets keep Mark Sanchez or does the team release him? Other free agents like Jeff Cumberland and Willie Colon deserve strong consideration on whether they should stay or they should go. Defensively, the Jets will have to decide on free agents like Calvin Pace and Ed Reed along with Antonio Cromartie, who has suggested that he was going to be released due to his high salary cap number.

In order to stay in contention year after year, the Jets will have to upgrade their offensive playmakers and get younger on a good if not great defense. The Jets have the No. 18 overall pick, giving the team a chance at a number of good players who could upgrade the Jets.

These are the top five draft prospects who could be day one starters for the Jets.

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5. Taylor Lewan, OL, Michigan

Taylor Lewan
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

On the offensive line, right tackle Austin Howard is a free agent and current left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson is getting up there in age.

In Michigan left tackle Taylor Lewan, the Jets would get a starting right tackle and an eventual starting left tackle to protect whoever their quarterback is.

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4. Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State

Carlos Hyde
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

The Jets have been a mess at running back since LaDainian Tomlinson retired in 2011. The running back platoon of Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell, while solid, doesn't have that one guy who can carry the ball 20 to 25 times and take the punishment.

At Ohio State, running back Carlos Hyde showed that he could be take the punishment. Hyde would immediately start over Ivory and Powell and give the Jets a thumper who would excel in Rex Ryan's ground and pound offense.

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3. Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina

Eric Ebron
Bob donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Jets have not had a solid tight end since they lost Dustin Keller last year. The tandem of Cumberland and Kellen Winslow Jr. could not get the job done as part of that horrible offense.

Tight end Eric Ebron from North Carolina would be a day one starter for the Jets and give Smith one additional offensive weapon to help the QB get some measure of success in Jet green and white.

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2. Jimmie Ward, DB, Northern Illinois

Jimmie Ward
Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Jets' defense is a very good unit, but a main issue of concern is their safeties. Both Antonio Allen and Dawan Landry don't give opposing teams any fear, and Reed is a shell of what he was.

That's why Northern Illinois safety Jimmie Ward would be an excellent addition and day one starter. Ward is a thumper who hits anyone and anything which is a perfect fit for a defensive coach like Rex Ryan.

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1. Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M

Mike Evans
Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Jets receiving corps is the worst in football. Veteran Santonio Holmes can't stay healthy and second-round pick Stephen Hill has been a bust. Slot receiver Jeremy Kerley is the best receiving threat, showing just how bad this group is.

In Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans, the Jets would get an immediate starter who can compensate for bad throws by the Jets' QBs and make some tough catches. His ability to make key plays on third down also will greatly help a terrible Jets offense.