The New York Jets will head into the 2016 NFL Draft with a few needs to fill that should be addressed right at the start of the yearly event. It won’t be easy but general manager Mike Maccagan should deliver yet again.
The Jets addressed some of their overall issues so far this offseason via the free agency period. They bolstered their rushing attack, added a few key defensive players that even at the bargain prices they were acquired for, should be able to fill in the gaps nicely and for the most part are looking in good shape heading into next season.
The draft strategy of the Jets remains the same despite the big question mark at quarterback. Sports Illustrated recently did a fantastic video discussing the top five burning questions for the Jets heading into this year’s draft. Here it is in its entirety:
While many feel the Jets should easily use their No. 20 overall pick on a pass rusher, it would be in the best interest of the team to bolster their offensive line. Considering that football games are won or lost in the battle of the trenches, drafting an offensive lineman would be the best choice to make in the first-round for the future of the team, no matter who is under center. To have a premier offensive lineman for better pass protection and to help establish the run for years to come makes it the best decision to make.
Of course at this point in time and yet again in an offseason for the Jets, the quarterback position continues to be the hottest topic. At his very moment, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is still a free agent and there no guarantee he’ll be back with the Jets next season.
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Regardless of the situation, the Jets should still draft another quarterback to have another option under center to develop for the future.
It wouldn’t be a wise decision to draft one in the first round but someone like Paxton Lynch would make a ton of sense to select using their second-round draft pick if he’s still available.
Lynch fits the kind of mold of quarterback that offensive coordinator Chan Gailey could work with to hone his craft. More quarterbacks is better since there is no guarantee Bryce Petty will be the franchise quarterback everyone envisions him to be down the road.
Make no mistake about it, the main theme of this year’s draft class should be centered on upgrading their pass rush. Expect the Jets to use at least two, maybe even three of their six draft picks on defensive players that will bring speed and aggression into the mix. Defense wins championships as the Jets’ schedule next season will feature going up against some offensive juggernauts in teams like the New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts and Seattle Seahawks just to name a few.
In the grand scheme of things, it also makes a ton of sense for the Jets to trade Muhammad Wilkerson before July 15th when his franchise tag would effectively kick in. At the end of the day, while he’s been a phenomenal player for the Jets on and off the field, if they don’t get a long-term deal in place with him before then, he’s as good as gone next offseason.
For the overall benefit of the team, it makes sense to trade him now. Whether the Jets want to trade him for a quarterback, another draft pick or some kind of package that would give them a lot of what they need back in return, it should be done since by the looks of it, he wants to get paid as much a J.J. Watt. Thankfully, the Jets wisely don’t want to invest so much money into him at defensive end since it would limit them severely in the future to continue upgrading the team.
It’s always about business and truth of the matter is Wilkerson wants big bucks and won’t think twice about finding it elsewhere come next season. Before the Jets let him play out his franchise tag and eventually leave in 2017 while getting nothing back in return with his departure, they should entertain smart trades and offers to move him now before it’s too late.
Overall, by the end of the month of April, fans of the Jets will get all the answers they need to see how this team will be shaping up in preparation for next season. The moves they make now, especially with the direction they will take in this year’s draft, will determine if this team will be a contender again in 2016 or on the outside looking in.