The NY Jets would be wise to use one of their mid-round picks in the 2020 NFL Draft on a running back as they plan for the future at the position.
The NY Jets have a number of pressing needs to fix as we inch closer to the 2020 NFL Draft. But one of the more underrated positions that needs addressing is at running back.
No, it isn’t as crucial as fixing the offensive line or adding wide receiver talent. And it won’t be as important as landing an impact cornerback or edge rusher.
But the Jets would be wise to look to the middle of the upcoming draft to target a running back.
At the moment, the Jets actually have quite a few running backs under contract — five to be exact. But only one is guaranteed a roster spot and most of the others are simply training camp bodies.
Le’Veon Bell is still the Jets’ top running back, for better or worse. The uber-talented tailback struggled in his first season with Gang Green putting up career-low numbers while running behind a porous offensive line.
And his head coach certainly didn’t do him any favors either.
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The Jets used a combination of Bilal Powell and Ty Montgomery to spell Bell last season with the former being used more frequently and efficiently than the latter. Montgomery is a goner, but Powell could still return to the Jets on another cheap, one-year deal.
However, that certainly wouldn’t prevent the team from adding a young back in the draft.
Day 1 and 2 of the draft should be entirely devoted to addressing the Jets’ biggest needs. We’re talking offensive linemen, wide receivers, cornerback, or edge rushers.
In reality, there isn’t really an argument to address any other position with the team’s first four selections. But after that, general manager Joe Douglas could get a little creative.
Quality young running backs could be found at any point in the draft with the position having the highest mid-round hit rate in the draft. There are certainly worse ways for the Jets to spend a fourth or fifth-round pick than to do so on a running back.
The selection would serve multiple purposes. For starters, it would give the Jets another capable player to carry the load when Bell comes off the field. Having adequate running back depth is always important — especially in Gase’s system that uses a lot of multi-back sets.
But perhaps more importantly, it could help set the Jets up for life after Bell if they land a player they like. Bell is still under contract for another three years, but the Jets have an out clause that results in just $4 million in dead cap after the upcoming season.
If Bell has another season like he did in 2019, it’s hard to imagine the Jets not going in that direction.
The Jets could not only add a possible 2020 contributor to the roster, but potentially the successor to Bell with one draft pick. Of course, this would require actually hitting on the selection.
There are a few intriguing options that should be available in the middle rounds of the draft. Players like Florida State’s Cam Akers, Maryland’s Anthony McFarland, and Appalachian State’s Darrynton Evans would all be excellent mid-round targets for the Jets.
Running back certainly isn’t the most important position in need of addressing this draft season. But it isn’t something that should be ignored either.
After all, a failure to plan for the future at a position often leads to that position becoming a crucial need shortly thereafter.