It appears Rex Ryan’s worst nightmare has become a reality. After releasing Antonio Cromartie earlier in the offseason to save cap space, the New York Jets were left looking for another starter. However, John Idzik has failed to anything to address the position, watching targets like Alterraun Verner, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Captain Munnerlyn, Vontae Davis, and worst of all, Darrelle Revis, sign elswhere. Now the Jets’ fall back plan of re-signing Cromartie is off the table, as the veteran has agreed to a deal with Arizona Cardinals.
Ryan’s defensive scheme relies extremely heavily on having quality cornerbacks who can play press man coverage. Dee Milliner was very poor through the first 12 games of last season, but he came on strong over the final month and the Jets are expecting big things from him this season. However, Kyle Wilson is not good enough to be their other starter, and with the free agent market completely picked over the Jets now have no choice but to target a cornerback early in the draft.
Luckily for the Jets, corner is a very deep position in this draft. Justin Gilbert and Darqueze Dennard are the top two prospects, and Dennard in particular would be an outstanding fit for the Jets. After them, there is a huge group of prospects that will come off the board between the first and third rounds. Some of the big names among this group include Jason Verrett, Bradley Roby and Lamarcus Joyner, any of whom would be immediate starters. The Jets will have no choice but to target one of these players, because they simply don’t have enough quality cornerbacks to be successful defensively.
It is unfortunate for the Jets that it has come to this, because they have yet to fully address any of the needs they entered the offseason with. Idzik believes in building through the draft, but the Jets simply don’t have enough high picks to fill all their needs. One could easily argue the Jets need as many as six starters, and the simple fact is the draft won’t provide all of them this season. Jets fans would probably riot if the Jets spend a sixth straight first round pick on defense, but at this point the team simply has no choice but to take a corner in the first two rounds. The Jets decided to sit out free agency, and that has now forced their hand in the draft.