This morning I was thinking about the Jets offense, and the team’s roster as a whole. If the NFL had the 2014 draft tomorrow, what positions would the Jets have to look to draft? It took me a while to think about it, because although there are said to be holes and a lack of talent, I think there are a great core group of players. I watched the Jets play the Bills on Sunday, and one of the broadcasters was mentioning the Jets do not have top 10 talent at quarterback, receiver, running back, or tight end. That might be true I thought, but does it really matter?
I had to really think who would the Jets be looking to draft if they held it tomorrow? Quarterback is solid if not spectacular between Geno Smith and Mark Sanchez. The receivers, if Santonio Holmes is used in a DeSean Jackson-esque way to run deeper routes are solid with an improving Stephen Hill, and a reliable slot guy in Jeremy Kerley. The running backs although not super, have a reliable Bilal Powell, and a hard charger in Chris Ivory. The offense will come along, and will get better the longer they have time with Marty Mornhinweg.
The only areas that the Jets would address first if the draft were tomorrow would be at tight end. That is really the last piece of the puzzle that could make this much more dynamic passing attack. In my lifetime New York has drafted tight ends in the first round going as far back as Johnny Mitchell, on to Kyle Brady, to Anthony Becht. They even traded a 1st round pick in the Herm Edwards era for Doug Jolley, and then again with Dustin Keller. If your addition is the same as mine that is FIVE 1st round picks the Jets have spent on Tight ends in the NFL draft the last two decades, or 25% of the time. Why is this a weird statistic? I’m not going to go back and count, but it seems they have targeted the tight end position more than quarterback, wide receiver, running back, cornerback, etc the last 20 years.
That being said, when will we get one that is the franchise player that New Orleans has with Jimmy Graham, or Atlanta with Tony Gonzalez? The Jets need to hit on a 10 time pro bowler, team leader, type of player at this position. If you can get a great tight end your offense goes from pretty good to great, from pedestrian to overdrive. Think about Tom Brady’s 50 TD season after getting Gronkowski, or Payton Manning with Dallas Clark. Even with Reggie Wayne, there always needs to be that security blanket. The Chargers were great for 10 years with Ladanian Tomlinson, but they were made great because of Antonio Gates. The Jets are that weapon away from really opening up on offense.
If I had to bet today, I would say the front office, coaching staff, and even owner are considering how to get a tight end with top-tier talent. Winslow Jr. doesn’t look like his knees will hold up through 16 games, and Jeff Cumberland will never be more than second tight end. The Jets need a dependable, never miss a game, vacuum cleaner for first downs. The guy that will keep the chains moving and catch 60+ passes a year, and also run block. Once they find that guy you will see a rise in quarterback passing stats across the board; completion percentage, touch downs, first downs, etc. Until then we may never see the offense crack the top 10 like the previous Marty Mornhinweg offenses.
On an extremely unrelated side note, when will the Rams admit that they miss Steven Jackson, and go out and sign a real running back? I’m not even a fan but it’s painful to watch them, or see box scores of Bradford laying eggs game after game while the backs run for 2 yards and a cloud of dust. I’d like to start the “sign Michael Turner” petition. At least with Turner they could have a running game again. Just saying.