Between now and May’s NFL Draft, there will be many different projections of where each team will focus. Throwing out smoke screens to confuse opposing general managers is common practice during this process. Sometimes you can tell what needs teams will address while other instances result in surprises.
The New York Jets finished strong last year, winning three of their last four contests. A final record of 8-8 puts this club in much better shape than one year ago. When looking for areas of possible concern, no worry is necessary regarding Gang Green’s tremendous defensive line. Sheldon Richardson, Muhammad Wilkerson and Quinton Coples all make the opposing quarterback uncomfortable. Offensively, running backs Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell form a solid tandem, though, they could benefit from another capable back. Really, two glaring weaknesses hold New York back from fulfilling its full potential.
Inconsistent receivers struggle to create separation. Stephen Hill has turned out to be a complete bust. He possesses great size and speed, but drops too many passes. Therefore, Hill should get cut at some point this offseason. I like David Nelson, but his skills are better suited for positional depth. Jermey Kerley makes big plays, however, he needs help. Even if general manager John Idzik addresses this position in free agency, they must add two, if not three wideouts. Tight ends Jeff Cumberland and Kellen Winslow can both go elsewhere, so Eric Ebron could draw interest.
Should both positions get filled by veterans, then their suspect secondary might get attention, either at corner or safety. Head coach Rex Ryan’s great defensive track record will assist in shoring up these issues.
Despite all of this, neither the GM nor Ryan refused to rule out a quarterback in the first round, but that would be a big mistake.
Quarterback Geno Smith looked inconsistent during his rookie year. As I have said, some veteran presence like Michael Vick or Matt Schaub would do well to mentor or push him. Mark Sanchez will be gone, and Matt Simms remains untested. A mid-round pick perhaps Aaron Murray or Zach Mettenberger may represent one solid find. Derek Carr is intriguing given New York’s West Coast offense, but will likely be gone in the first round. But what it really comes down to is that Smith performed well enough last season to not make quarterback Idzik’s top area of need.