Jets should target a running back in 2018 NFL Draft
By Michael Henken
The New York Jets would be wise to add a new running back via the 2018 NFL Draft to bring a much-needed spark to their offense.
Heading into the 2018 NFL offseason, much of the attention surrounding the New York Jets has been on acquiring a franchise quarterback, but the team should also put some of its focus on landing a running back, and the 2018 NFL Draft may be the perfect place to do just that.
With the sixth pick in the upcoming draft, the Jets certainly have a lot of options to bring in a marquee player, and the route they choose to go with that pick will likely depend on how well the team does in free agency.
For example, a recent report from ESPN’s Rich Cimini indicated that the Jets are willing to go all in on signing Kirk Cousins if the Washington Redskins elect not to once again franchise tag the 29-year-old signal caller.
If Gang Green does indeed strike a deal with Cousins, the team will have more room to work with in the first round of the draft. However, if they miss out on Cousins, the Jets will almost undoubtedly draft a QB at No. 6.
Regardless, the team should also look to add another piece to its backfield. It’s unlikely that they’ll be able to do so with their first pick, as Penn State’s Saquon Barkley, the only running back expected to go in the top 10, will likely be off the board by the time the clock lands on the Jets.
That may not be an issue, however, as the team also has two second-round picks, which could be used on a player like Sony Michel or Ronald Jones, two talented backs, both of whom could very be available on day two.
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Starting with Michel, the 23-year-old played his collegiate ball at the University of Georgia where he saw quite a bit of success. Standing 5’11” and weighing in at 211 lbs., Michel is a strong and disciplined runner who, at times, has also shown impressive explosion and acceleration. He has solid vision, formidable blocking ability, and was known as a leader during his time as a Bulldog.
As far as weaknesses go, Michel isn’t the quickest or most agile runner in terms of making cuts, but his physicality and power have made up for that. He’s also been criticized for his pass catching abilities at times.
Moving onto Jones, the 20-year-old played his collegiate ball at the University of Southern California. Standing 6’0″ and weighing 200 lbs., his electrifying speed was often on display. He has great acceleration and high-level footwork, which allows him to make pivotal cuts. Also, Jones rarely fumbles the ball and has shown the willingness to fight for extra yardage.
As far as his weaknesses go, many seem to be worried about the number of carries he can handle. He’s also been criticized for taking big hits when attempting to tack on more yards, and while he showed he could be used as a pass catcher, he has improvements to make in that area as well. Regardless, he’s an explosive runner with the ability to make big plays, and he appears to have a bright career ahead of him.
In regards to the Jets, running back may not be a primary concern for the team, but it’s certainly an area that can be improved upon. I’ve always been in favor of giving Bilal Powell more carries, but at this stage of his career, I’m not sure he’ll ever get the chance to be an elite level back. Also, Elijah McGuire showed promise at times in 2017, but it’s unclear whether or not he’ll be able to transform into an every down back for the Jets either.
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With that being said, it can’t hurt to bring in a young and promising back to add into the mix. Veteran Matt Forte has likely played his last game in a Jets uniform, which leaves a spot open. Filling that spot with a player like Michel or Jones will only give the Jets more pieces to work with as they continue to rebuild into a playoff caliber team.