Most notably, Douglas improved the tight end, cornerback, guard, and safety positions by signing Tyler Conklin and C.J. Uzomah, D.J. Reed, Laken Tomlinson, and Jordan Whitehead. Other depth signings were also made, as Douglas looked to build out the roster and hedge against injury.
Despite all of the signings, though, the Jets roster still has clear holes on both sides of the field, particularly on defense. Of course, it would have been impossible (or at least, unwise) to address every need through free agency.
At the same time, though, Gang Green has quite a few needs left on the roster that they will look to address through the draft if not through trades. With two top-10 picks and four top-40 picks, Douglas is well equipped to improve this roster but it will require masterful drafting and luck to fill every hole.
Nonetheless, the following are the top three defensive needs remaining on the Jets roster after the first phase of free agency.
As a disclaimer, I did not include edge rusher on this list. While the Jets’ pass rush left a lot to be desired last year after finishing 26th in sacks, defensive end Carl Lawson returns to the lineup after missing all of the 2020 season.
Lawson was a top pass rusher in 2020, though, finishing fourth in the league in QB pressures, a stat arguably just as important as sacks.
In addition, the Jets added solid depth pieces in Solomon Thomas and Jacob Martin, and youngster Bryce Huff was having a decent season before his Week 5 injury. In his first four games before injury, Huff registered two sacks and 6 QB hits, while barely playing just 50% of defensive snaps.
Finally, the Jets extended John Franklin-Myers last season, who played on the edge in 2021 and received the highest Pro Football Focus (PFF) grade of any defensive player on the team (80.3) doing so. At the very least, JFM will likely continue to play on the edge on early downs.
Overall, the Jets have two good starters at edge as it currently stands, plus very solid depth. While they could still easily spend a top-10 pick on an edge rusher and move JFM inside due to the sheer talent of this year's class, the following three positions present more glaring needs on the defensive side of the ball.