The 2019 NFL Draft is now less than a month away, and your New York Jets are currently slated to pick third overall. While the team made huge upgrades in free agency with additions like Le’Veon Bell, C.J. Mosley and Jamison Crowder, another impact player is needed in the first round of this year’s draft.
In free agency, the Jets certainly added what Jamal Adams calls “dogs.” They added arguably the top weapons available on both offense and defense with Bell and Mosley, while Crowder is a solid slot receiver to help take some of the pressure off of Sam Darnold.
While those pieces are huge additions, the Jets still have some holes to fill in the 2019 NFL Draft. Edge rusher and corner remain glaring holes on the roster. Holding the No. 3 pick in the first round allows them to add another big time player to the mix.
The top of the draft is loaded with premier talent, but there are certain positions or players that may be considered a reach at No. 3. Without knowing whether the Jets will trade back or not, this is a ranking of the prospects likely to be in play for the Jets at their current slot:
Next: Michigan DL Rashan Gary
Michigan DL Rashan Gary
Gary is the first of two local prospects and of several top prospects from the 2016 recruiting class to make the list. Gary has been on the radar of NFL teams from the moment he set foot on the campus of Michigan. Gary, a Paramus Catholic graduate, was the top-ranked player in his high school class and was considered by many to be a game-changing type of player.
It’s safe to say however that his career in a Wolverine uniform was underwhelming. His career high in sacks at Michigan is six in a single season. While that’s not bad for an interior lineman, it’s not the eye-popping numbers that were expected of him. If Gary unlocks his true potential, he could very well be the best prospect on this entire list. He has All-Pro potential, and with the proper work ethic, can unlock it and become an offensive coordinator’s worst nightmare.
Despite low production, what makes Gary such a highly regarded prospect? Many feel as though Rashan Gary’s skill set was not completely utilized in college, and that there is still a lot of untapped potential. Gary has a great blend of size and speed that coaches would love to work with. In the case of the Jets, adding a local guy like Gary would be a nice story, but to rely solely on potential could be risky with such a high pick.
Next: Houston DL Ed Oliver
Houston DL Ed Oliver
While Gary was ranked ahead of Ed Oliver coming out of high school, Oliver certainly had the more successful college career. Oliver faced consistent double-teams throughout his three years at Houston, but was still able to dominate offensive linemen on a regular basis. Oliver was able to alter game plans completely. He is a relentless pass rusher that plays every single snap through the whistle.
A career high of 5.5 sacks for Ed Oliver does not tell the full story of his impact. He is of the same mold as Aaron Donald, who is arguably the best defensive player in the NFL. He appears to be undersized, but what he lacks in that department, he makes up for with excellent speed and hand usage.
Questions about Oliver also stem from the quality of competition. Houston does not compete in the Power 5 conferences in college football. While Aaron Donald has proven that an undersized interior pass rusher can succeed in the NFL, there will still be questions as to whether Oliver can do the same. In the Jets’ case, Oliver was primarily an inside rusher at Houston, and the team needs more of a presence on the outside. While some teams will be confident he can be used off the edge, to take that risk at No. 3 might be too much.
Next: Alabama DL Quinnen Williams
Alabama DL Quinnen Williams
The Jets already added one former member of the Crimson Tide this offseason when they signed Mosley, and they could add another if they were to land Williams. Williams is everything that you look for from an interior defensive lineman. He has ideal size and is a force to be reckoned with up the middle.
In typical Bama fashion, Williams had to wait his turn to shine, but once his moment came, he took it and ran with it. In his first and only season as a full-time starter, he produced eight sacks, which is a big total for an interior rusher. Williams has the skill set to be the best overall player in this entire draft.
However, Williams might be a victim of his position. Despite his dominance last season, he plays a position that typically doesn’t get targeted highly in the draft. He has the same issue as Oliver, where the Jets bigger need comes from the outside and not the interior pass rusher position. Jets fans will remember the Pro Bowl trio of interior rushers in Sheldon Richardson, Mo Wilkerson, and Leonard Williams, the last of whom is still with the team. Despite having all three, the team still looked desperate need for an outside presence.
Next: Kentucky EDGE Josh Allen
Kentucky EDGE Josh Allen
“Josh Allen with the sack on Josh Allen!” Oh, what a fun headline that would be for reporters. A Montclair, New Jersey native, Allen could have been a top-ranked pass rusher had he declared for last year’s draft. He had seven sacks in 2017, but decided to come back and boost his draft stock. Boy, did he ever.
Allen recorded a massive 17 sacks as a senior for Kentucky, and solidified himself as a top-five prospect in this draft. He is a true speed rusher off the edge that can present a nightmare for opponents if the proper attention is not paid to him. While his ability as a rusher is what makes him such a highly regarded prospect, Allen can also drop back in coverage for whatever team selects him. His skill set makes him look like a mix of Anthony Barr and Khalil Mack. He is not quite as good in coverage as Barr, nor as good of a rusher as Mack (few are), but may have enough of both to excel at the next level.
The concern on Allen is his lack of a counter move. He generally beats lineman with his snap timing and speed off the edge, but once engaged, has a bit of trouble disengaging from his man. That could lead to problems setting the edge in run defense when the play comes his way. If he can develop even just an average counter rush move, he will be force to reckoned with the NFL and haunt quarterbacks for the next decade.
Next: Ohio State EDGE Nick Bosa
Ohio State EDGE Nick Bosa
The scariest part about Nick Bosa is that we have yet to see anything close to his full ability in college. His career high in sacks comes from his sophomore 2017 campaign, when he had 8.5. That season he was not a full time player yet, but what still able to show the amounts of potential in his game. While not as fast or quick as Allen, Bosa comes equipped with a wide array of pass rush moves. His brother, Joey Bosa of the Los Angeles Chargers, is one of the NFL’s best pass rushers, and Nick appears to be a more complete prospect. That’s scary.
It’s impossible to project the amount of sacks he can rack up, but Bosa can be a perennial 15 plus sack guy at his best. His motor is nonstop, so you never have to fear him taking a play off. His ability to disengage from a block is rarely seen at such an early stage in his development. His relentlessness just wears you down over the course of a game and makes him harder to block as the game goes on.
The concern with Bosa is that he missed most of the 2018 season with a core muscle injury. Mix that in with his brother’s injury history and although unfair, you can’t help but be concerned that he may also struggle to stay healthy. His lack of elite speed gives the top linemen a chance reengage with him should he get past them.
Bosa is the consensus top-ranked edge rusher in this years draft and the Jets main concern will be whether or not he is on the board at No. 3. If he were to fall that far, the Jets should be ready to sprint his draft card to the podium.