Nov 14, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Memphis Tigers quarterback Paxton Lynch (12) prepares to throw the ball during the third quarter against the Houston Cougars at TDECU Stadium. The Cougars won 35-34. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
The New York Jets currently hold the 20th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft and they’ve got a lot of holes to fill. They have some tough decisions ahead as to what direction to go in the first round.
The draft is rapidly approaching for the Jets and despite rumors of a possible trade up, the Jets are doing their due diligence on the draft’s top prospects. The Jets have a ton of needs and with the 20th overall pick, they should have a slew of options.
Could the Jets get their quarterback of the future? Do the Jets decide to grab the missing puzzle piece to make their defense whole? There are so many questions and so little time, so with that being said, let’s delve into the top 10 options for the Jets at No. 20 in this year’s draft.
Next: 10. The least likely scenario
Nov 22, 2014; Memphis, TN, USA; Memphis Tigers quarterback Paxton Lynch (12) celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the game against the South Florida Bulls at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. Memphis Tigers beat South Florida Bulls 31-20. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports
10. The least likely scenario
This probably won’t be the most popular option, but the Jets going quarterback at 20 doesn’t make sense. The Jets current depth chart at the position consists of Geno Smith and second-year man Bryce Petty.
Ryan Fitzpatrick is still unsigned, but he’s going to be back. To be honest he’s out of options and it’s painfully obvious. The Los Angeles Rams are taking a quarterback with the first overall pick and the Denver Broncos have explored every other option outside of Fitzpatrick.
The Jets would be better served addressing one of their other major roster needs. The Jets can’t continue to ignore the offensive line depth issues or the lack of depth in general.
The Jets selecting a quarterback in this draft isn’t out of the question, but the available options at 20, like Paxton Lynch just aren’t the right fit. Though the Jets could be interested in trading up in the draft, it just wouldn’t make sense in the grand scheme of things to use it if they stay pat at 20.
Next: 9. Drafting Damon Harrison's replacement
Jan 11, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide defensive lineman A’Shawn Robinson (86) against the Clemson Tigers in the 2016 CFP National Championship at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
9. Drafting Damon Harrison‘s replacement
As we continue to move to the top of the list, the options become a lot more realistic. If the Jets drafted another defensive lineman, surely the mettle of the front office’s ‘best player available’ ideology would be tested.
The Jets offseason in 2016 has been vastly different than a season ago and in the purge of the roster, they lost one of their key cogs on defense in Damon Harrison to their cross town rival the New York Giants. There is no doubt the defensive line is the deepest positional unit in the draft, but would the Jets be that daring?
Most likely not, if someone on the defensive line was the best player available the Jets would more likely than not trade back and accumulate more picks. Though there should be a bevy of defensive tackle options at pick 20 for the green and white.
The Jets’ front office leaned towards quantity over quality with their replacements in Steve McLendon and Jarvis Jenkins. Will the Jets still be near the top of the league in 2016 against the run? Only time will tell.
Next: 8. The Jets go wide receiver
Feb 27, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Ole Miss wide receiver Laquon Treadwell runs a pass route during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
8. The Jets go wide receiver
Laquon Treadwell is the consensus No. 1 receiver in this year’s draft, but had an uneven Pro Day leaving scouts with more questions than answers. Treadwell has a big frame, but his slow 40 time brings up possible issues later in his career with creating separation against corners.
The Jets on the surface seem set at the receiver position with veterans Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker starting on the outside spots. While also having unusual depth with rising star Quincy Enunwa, they still have disappointing yet still talented rookie (going into his second year) Devin Smith.
Again, the Jets have other needs, but upon further review Marshall (32) and Decker (29) are both getting up there in age. While it would be a tad off the deep end, there would be some logic to the move.
At this point in the draft every receiver should be on the board and worth consideration. Smith isn’t a loss cause just yet, as he missed nearly all of camp last year. He still has a very bright future in this league and will look to take a major leap in year two. Either way, the Jets should consider drafting a wide receiver to add into the mix, even if Treadwell is long gone when they’re on the clock.
Next: 7. Jets move on from Jace Amaro
Feb 27, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks tight end Hunter Henry catches a pass during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
7. Jets move on from Jace Amaro
This should probably be No. 10 on this list, despite the fact that the Jets had one of the worst statistical seasons at the tight end position in NFL history last year. While that little factoid is true, the Jets did just fine ignoring the tight end position all year long.
The Jets had arguably one of their best offensive seasons in franchise history with single season bests at the quarterback and wide receiver positions respectively. Now this would be a lot more viable if there was a little more star power at the tight end position.
Currently the No. 1 tight end on the board is Hunter Henry and it’s more a credit to the weakness of the rest of the class than a tip of the cap to him. Plus the Jets have Jace Amaro still on the roster, a former second-round pick who has a ton of talent.
The problem is this current regime has no connections to Amaro and could be fed up with the drops, the injuries and the lack of progress in his game. If the Jets are ready to move on, it won’t be in round one of the draft as it wouldn’t make sense for them to go in that direction. But if they have Henry high on their draft board, it could happen if they feel he’s going to have an immediate impact on offense next season.
Next: 6. The Jets find the future of the franchise
Jan 1, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes running back Ezekiel Elliott against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during the 2016 Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Buckeyes defeated the Fighting Irish 44-28. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
6. The Jets find the future of the franchise
Now if Ezekiel Elliott is on the board at 20 (highly unlikely at this point) the Jets should ignore any other position that may also be on their draft board. That is how talented Elliott is and again, despite the fact the Jets have invested in a lot of bodies at running back this offseason, he’s worth taking.
The Jets signed Matt Forte, Khiry Robinson and brought back Bilal Powell to round out the backfield. As talented and important as each of these runners are, none of them outside of Forte have ever been considered franchise backs.
To that point, none of them have proven they can still or become bell cows at this point. Elliott is a bell cow who can pound the rock for the next decade.
The Jets saw glimpses of a balanced offensive attack early in the season when Chris Ivory was revved up. But slowly but surely, Ivory wore himself out and was riddled ineffective. While unlikely, don’t rule out ‘the best player available’ mentality during the draft.
Next: 5. The market gets cornered by the Jets
Sep 12, 2015; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes cornerback Eli Apple (13) congratulates cornerback Gareon Conley (8) after his interception against the Hawaii Warriors at Ohio Stadium. Ohio State won the game 38-0. Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports
5. The market gets cornered by the Jets
Now that we’ve crossed the halfway threshold, these possibilities become all the more sensible. This was a similar conversation at the receiver position, though there is a bit more urgency here.
Antonio Cromartie was released and the other starting corner Darrelle Revis is 30 years old. The Jets could look to keep this competition in house with Marcus Williams (six interceptions last season) or Buster Skrine (starting slot corner).
The Jets would be best served doing their homework on the cornerback market because if the other top options are off the board, the Jets will have to act. Eli Apple and maybe even a Vernon Hargreaves III could be had with the 20th overall pick with some luck.
The Jets thought similarly a couple years ago when they drafted Kyle Wilson at the end of the first out of Boise State, already having Cromartie and Revis. But one bad selection can’t derail this team from taking a chance again.
Next: 4. Investing for the future at linebacker
Dec 31, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Reggie Ragland (19) during the game against the Michigan State Spartans in the 2015 Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
4. Investing for the future at linebacker
Over the last two seasons the Jets have locked in the starting inside linebackers for the present, but they haven’t addressed the position for the future. They brought back David Harris on a three year/$21.5M contract with $15M guaranteed last season.
While this offseason, the Jets locked up their other starting inside linebacker for the 2016 season on a much cheaper investment. Erin Henderson signed a two year/$4M dollar deal with less than a million dollars guaranteed.
With that being said, both players will be 30 years or older by the time the regular season starts. The Jets need a future leader at the position and many thought Demario Davis was that guy, but he never reached his full potential like the Jets thought he would and let him go via free agency.
Reggie Ragland is the top inside linebacker in this draft and should be there at 20 for the Jets to consider. Ragland comes from a NFL system at Alabama and wouldn’t have to step in and be the guy immediately, letting him learn the playbook and slowly work himself into the rotation.
Next: 3. Going broke for the future
Nov 14, 2015; Berkeley, CA, USA; California Golden Bears quarterback Jared Goff (16) warms up before the game against the Oregon State Beavers at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
3. Going broke for the future
Yes, as mentioned earlier, the Jets would be crazy to draft a quarterback with the 20th overall pick, but in this scenario the Jets are sold on either Jared Goff or Carson Wentz and do whatever it takes to trade up with the Cleveland Browns to take one of these two franchise quarterbacks. This move would most certainly include disgruntled defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson and a trove of draft picks.
But how many picks may be the important question. Wilkerson would most certainly command a first round pick by himself if not more and throwing in the Jets 20th overall pick could be a sweetener. Ultimately the Browns would get Wilkerson, a one this year, a one next year and maybe another mid-round pick.
That’s quite a haul to give up and the Jets have done something similar before, if you want to revisit the 2009 NFL Draft day trade. But no one would say anything if either of the quarterbacks the Jets selected turned into a superstar.
The Jets have a lot of needs on this team, but no need greater than at the most important position in football. The Jets current brass, only in their second year, could pull off a trade of this magnitude but would certainly hitch their futures on the career trajectory of this rookie quarterback.
Next: 2. Finding viable replacements on offensive line
Aug 30, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes offensive linesman Taylor Decker (68) blocks Navy Midshipmen defensive end Paul Quessenberry (45) during the fourth quarter at M&T Bank Stadium. Ohio State Buckeyes defeated Navy Midshipmen 34-17.Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
2. Finding viable replacements on offensive line
Who knows the answer to that question, but the Jets aren’t prepared for that inevitability. The Jets answered the immediate need at left tackle by trading for Ryan Clady but again, he has a bit of an injury history and would be a stop-gap kind of offensive lineman for the time being.
If Clady stays healthy and plays well, he’ll be back next season by way of the option on his revised contract. The Jets would be smart investing in a swing tackle that can temporarily replace Breno Giacomini at right tackle and then eventually replace Clady at left tackle.
One of the top four offensive linemen being available at 20 is slim, so most likely if there is a guy the Jets like they’d have to trade up a few spots to nab him, but it might be worth it in the grand scheme of things. Whether you like Jack Conklin or Taylor Decker, both would be better options than the Jets currently have on the roster.
Next: 1. Adding a dynamic pass rusher
Jan 30, 2016; Mobile, AL, USA; North squad quarterback Carson Wentz of North Dakota State (11) throws a pass while under pressure from South squad defensive end Noah Spence of Eastern Kentucky (97) during first half of the Senior Bowl at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports
1. Adding a dynamic pass rusher
The most likely scenario at pick number 20 for the Jets is adding a pass rusher. There should be a plethora of options available for a variety of reasons: Emmanuel Ogbah (talented, but a bit raw), Noah Spence (all the talent in the world, but a host of off the field issues), or maybe Leonard Floyd (Vernon Gholston like characteristics, serious bust potential).
While any of those options would make sense and also without having to trade up, they all have their risks. Spence has the highest ceiling of them all but could be out of the league in a few years with the Johnny Manziel syndrome.
There is no question the Jets have a need at the position and the brass is hoping Lorenzo Mauldin can step up and take one of the spots. That leaves one spot open and Bowles having a defensive background would love to have his own Von Miller on defense.
Instead of relying upon the services of defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson to perform stand up duties, the Jets need to draft a stud that can take the position by storm. If the Jets had a true pass rushing presence on defense they’d finally have the credentials to claim a stake for the best defense in the NFL.