NY Jets: 3 biggest needs still remaining on the roster
By Justin Fried
The NY Jets did a great job of addressing their most pressing needs in the 2020 NFL Draft, but these three positions remain the biggest needs on the team.
The NY Jets went into the 2020 NFL Draft with a collection of needs on the roster that needed addressing. And for the most part, Joe Douglas and company did a fairly good job of filling those needs.
But Rome wasn’t built in a day — and neither was Florham Park.
No matter how excellent the Jets draft class was, there were always going to be some positions on the roster that remained weak. The roster was just far too thin to fix everything in one offseason, let alone in one draft class.
That doesn’t mean that the additions of players like Mekhi Becton and Denzel Mims won’t help. Nor does it mean that the free-agent signings of Connor McGovern and Breshad Perriman won’t do the same.
But this is still a very flawed roster and the sooner we realize that the easier it will be to accept the expected mid-season struggles.
The Jets can compete, no doubt about that. But they still have some weaknesses that could use fixing up. And perhaps they could use the late stages of free agency to address those weaknesses.
Anything is possible.
With that, let’s take a look at the three biggest needs still on the Jets’ roster.
Next: 3. Cornerback
The Jets have revamped their cornerback room this offseason and have more depth at the position than the organization has seen in years.
From the signing of Pierre Desir to the drafting of Bryce Hall to the trade for Quincy Wilson, the Jets finally seem to have promise at the position and that’s something that certainly hasn’t been said for a number of years now.
But even though there’s promise, there aren’t really many sure things.
Brian Poole was brought back in free agency on another dirt-cheap deal and will enter the season as one of the best nickel cornerbacks in the NFL. But outside of that, the team’s starters on the boundary all have question marks.
Desir is coming off a disappointing season with the Indianapolis Colts and was released for a reason. Blessuan Austin had six games of solid production after missing the entirety of the previous two seasons with torn ACL’s.
Meanwhile, Hall is a rookie fifth-round pick who is also coming off a serious injury while Wilson is fresh off an abysmal season with the Colts as well.
There are many question marks and few answers at this point. For that reason, it might be wise to target a player like Logan Ryan in free agency to add an experienced, reliable veteran into the fold.
Jets fans have reasons to be optimistic about the cornerback position, but it would wise to temper any optimism until the season begins.
Next: 2. Edge Rusher
2. Edge Rusher
On the surface, the Jets edge rusher depth chart is by far the weakest position on the team. At the moment, the team’s starters at outside linebacker are slated to be the average-at-best Jordan Jenkins and career backup Tarell Basham.
And barring any unexpected free agent signing, that’s likely how the team will enter the season.
Jenkins has put up steady production amassing 15 sacks over the past two seasons, but he remains a below-average pass rusher and an underwhelming edge setter. He’s a character guy with a high work ethic, but there’s a reason the Jets were able to re-sign him for so cheap.
Meanwhile, Basham was the more efficient pass rusher in 2019 but with just four career sacks, it’s hard to see the former third-round pick being any more than a rotational rusher.
Behind them, the likes of Harvey Langi and Frankie Luvu offer little promise. Third-round pick Jabari Zuniga could be a breath of fresh air, but he’ll likely play more of a tweener role as a hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker.
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Think of him in that Kyle Phillips mold.
The Jets are desperate for help on the edge, but the only reason that this isn’t the biggest “need” on the roster is because of the creative scheming from Gregg Williams.
Surprisingly, the Jets pass rush wasn’t awful in 2019 despite their lackluster edge rushers and that was due to the presence of guys like Jamal Adams who were used as pseudo-edge rushers.
Throw in a returning C.J. Mosley and possibly Avery Williamson as well as the newly-signed Patrick Onwuasor who has 8.5 sacks over the past two seasons and the Jets should be able to get by even without a pair of true starters on the edge.
It’s certainly the weakest position group on the roster, but not their biggest need.
Next: 1. Wide Receiver
1. Wide Receiver
The Jets have done a lot to address their barren wide receiver depth chart this offseason.
The signing of Breshad Perriman was met with praise given the loss of the similarly speedy Robby Anderson in free agency. And the selection of Baylor wideout Denzel Mims in the second round was near-universally celebrated by Jets fans.
But it ultimately may not be enough.
At the moment, the Jets are slated to go into 2020 with a top-four of Perriman, Mims, Jamison Crowder, and Quincy Enunwa at the position. But there are significant reasons to be concerned about each of them.
Perriman was labeled a draft bust and was nearly out of the league before a stellar five-game stretch in Mike Evans‘ absence last season earned him a sizable payday in the offseason. But the oft-injury, underwhelming producer will not benefit from Tampa Bay’s high-octane offense in New York.
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Mims has all the talent to be a true No. 1 receiver at the NFL level, but he remains incredibly unpolished as both a route-runner and overall pass-catcher. He’ll likely take some time to get acquainted in the NFL and might not be ready to see significant playing time in 2020.
Meanwhile, Crowder has his own share of injury concerns, but played in all 16 games last season and remains the team’s most reliable receiving option. Enunwa, on the other hand, still hasn’t been cleared for football activities and it’s unclear if he’ll ever play football again.
Is this being a big negative? Perhaps, but it’s important to analyze possible risk when detailing the strengths/weaknesses or a roster. And no position on the team has a greater chance of total failure than wide receiver.
Sure players like Josh Doctson, Lawrence Cager, Vyncint Smith, and Braxton Berrios have some level of potential as well, but all four will be fighting for roster spots in the preseason. There’s no guarantee they even make the team, let alone make serious contributions.
The Jets added promise to the position, but it remains to be seen if that promise can be turned into production.