2017 NFL Draft: Why the Jets don’t need an edge rusher
By Michael Pallas
In the analysis of the 2017 NFL Draft, most people think the New York Jets need an edge rusher. Frankly, they don’t.
In the 2016 NFL Draft, the New York Jets drafted two edge rushers, and that’s what needed to be addressed at that point in time. If any tinkering needs to be done, it’s moving Lorenzo Mauldin inside and drafting an inside linebacker in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Their best bet at inside linebacker is in free agency, though. The 2017 class is deep enough to target some players, like Rolando McClain, Kiko Alonso, and Sean Spence. All of those players have experience at 3-4 inside linebacker.
The best thing about football is that it’s not always black and white, and there’s depth to understanding successes and failures. Yes, the edge rushers were statistically bad. That encompassed the front and the second level. Muhammad Wilkerson, Leonard Williams, Jordan Jenkins and Mauldin combined for 16.5 sacks. That’s not good.
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Trying to fix the pass rush and pushing other problems to the side will exacerbate other issues. Before fixing the pass rush, they need to consider why they didn’t get to opposing quarterbacks.
When your back-end is getting burned constantly, there should be low expectations on sacks. In 2015, the Jets allowed teams to complete 57% of their passes for an average of 235 yards per game, with 25 touchdowns and 185 passing plays for first downs, and in addition, the team had 18 interceptions.
In 2016, the Jets allowed 64% completions for an average of 244 yards per game, with 30 touchdowns and 203 passing plays for first downs, and in addition, they only had eight interceptions.
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There should only be two main concerns for the Jets in this year’s draft. They need to fix the back-end of the defense, and they need to protect the quarterback. Drafting an edge rush won’t fix the underlying problem with the Jets defense. They were poor in coverage, period.