The New York Jets need to infuse their running back corps with more talent. Here’s to making the case they select two running backs in the 2018 NFL Draft.
For at least the past 12 months, the 2018 free agency period has been a time many have said would be integral to the rebuild of the New York Jets. Due to some big moves by the Cleveland Browns kicking off the weekend, general manager Mike Maccagnan currently has the most money in the NFL to spend. Spotrac currently has the Jets with $92,083,128 in salary cap space.
The big name most Jets fans are talking about is Kirk Cousins, as the quest to find a franchise quarterback continues into 2018. Regardless of who is under center to kick off the upcoming season, the Jets are going to need to give some attention to their ground game.
With the retirement of Matt Forte, the Jets should make it a point to add some young talent this April in the draft. That seems to be the general consensus, as most mock drafts have the Jets picking a running back in the second round.
There looks to be plenty of talent at the position around the time the Jets get on the clock with the number 37 overall pick. They are sure to have at least some names of backs like Derrius Guice, Nick Chubb, Sony Michel, and Kerryon Johnson. The Jets should leave Round 2 with one of these names.
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This should not be the only time the Jets consider a running back. Yes, this team has holes everywhere, but it would be a tremendous service to the offense to get as much young, hungry new talent as possible on that side of the football. Bilal Powell will turn 30 this season and is not getting younger or faster.
They can cut Powell (assuming a pre-June 1 designation) and have a $4 million cap savings. If you’re emotionally attached to him, they could always bring him back at a lower financial figure. The Jets have gone into seasons with four running backs on the active roster, so there is a precedent there.
As the draft continues to unfold to the mid to late rounds, it would behoove the Jets to come out of the mid to late rounds with another running back the likes of Rashad Penny, Bo Scarbrough, or Mark Walton. Yes, Saquon Barkley is the sexy name and after the fantastic season and his 2018 NFL Combine, he deserves all the praise he is getting. That said, the well at the position is not dry across the board if he is not wearing green and white.
There are plenty of running backs that outplay their draft position after being selected in the mid to late rounds and are fantastic contributors to their respective teams. While the pool of free agents will most certainly contribute to some degree to new teams, why run the risk of having a veteran on his big contract just cash out and coast through the duration on his deal?
Coming out of this year’s draft with a youth movement at the running back position could set the running game up for seasons to come. With the salary cap space that the Jets have, they are most certainly going to be signing some talent to upgrade the offensive line (possibilities include Weston Richburg, Ryan Jensen, and Andrew Norwell) in addition to the possibility of drafting Quenton Nelson in the first round. The Jets would be smart to have a trio of youngsters (with Elijah McGuire returning) holding down the fort.