Evaluating New York Jets Pre-Draft Roster and Needs: Running Backs
Given the New York Jets’ offensive woes last season, many observers have been calling for upgrades all over the offense. However, those who want the Jets to make a big name acquisition at running back haven’t been paying attention. The Jets ranked sixth in the NFL in rush offense, with Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell combining for 358 carries for 1,530 yards and 4 touchdowns. Both are reliable, between the tackles runners who can control the clock and grind out first downs.
The Jets traded for Ivory to be their starter last season, and he was very good in the second half of the season. Ivory dealt with some injuries, but he still averaged 4.6 yards per carry. In fact, if you extrapolate Ivory’s numbers to a 300 carry season he would have recorded 1,380 yards and 5 touchdowns, and there wouldn’t be much conversation about the Jets having a need a running back. Ivory proved more than once that he is a legitimate starter, and the Jets would be foolish to bring in someone who would take away significant carries from him.
Powell is a solid, well rounded backup who was productive early in the season. He is a valuable asset for the Jets spelling Ivory, though they certainly hope Ivory is healthy enough to take on a bigger workload this season. Alex Green is behind Powell, but the truth is that he is not going to be a contributor for this team. The Jets are all set at fullback, where last year’s 7th round pick Tommy Bohanon showed a lot of promise.
That brings us to the interesting case of Mike Goodson, the Jets’ biggest offseason signing from last season. Goodson was suspended for the first four games due to drug and weapons charges he is still currently facing (he could face up to three years in prison if convicted). Making matters worse, Goodson tore his ACL in just his second game back. Goodson brings the type of speed and receiving skills the Jets badly need in their backfield, but it remains to be seen if they want to be associated with Goodson. If his legal proceedings take a turn for the worst, expect the Jets to cut him.
Even if Goodson remains on the roster, it would be prudent for the Jets to target a third down back in the draft. Free agency offers no options other than potentially Chris Johnson, and signing him would be a mistake. The Jets own three fourth round picks, and there is no reason they can’t land Dri Archer or De’Anthony Thomas. Both players are the type of versatile weapons that would bring a different element to the Jets’ offense.
The Jets don’t need to make a significant addition to their backfield in terms of a runner. Ivory has shown excellent potential and he could be a breakout star this season. If the Jets can use the draft to find an explosive third down back to complement him then their backfield will be complete. The Jets are in good shape here, and it won’t take much for them to have a very strong stable of running backs.