4. The NY Jets need to add athletic linebackers who can cover in space
In today’s NFL, where offenses continue to become more prolific and wide open, a three-down linebacker who can excel against the run and pass is no longer a luxury — it’s a necessity.
Ask yourself or anyone to come up with a list of the top linebackers in the league. Of course, there will be some variance, but you’re likely to receive a list that includes the names such as Bobby Wagner, Fred Warner, Darius Leonard, Lavonte David, and more.
What do all of these names have in common other than name recognition? They’re all players who can cover in space and make their presence felt from sideline to sideline.
Having linebackers of this mold on the roster makes it harder for opposing play-callers to exploit mismatches because of the balance and flexibility they provide for a defense.
The Jets are still in the infant stages of their transition from a predominantly 3-4 defense to the 4-3 base defense that Saleh prefers to run.
C.J. Mosley did an admirable job adapting to the rigors and responsibilities of a 4-3 middle linebacker, finishing fourth in total tackles, the team needs to continue adding talent to their linebacker corps.
In addition, Quincy Williams, Hamsah Nasirildeen, and Jamien Sherwood have intriguing skill sets that give them upside to developing into starting-caliber linebackers. Still, the Jets should not leave the draft without drafting a linebacker who has the talent to start from day one.
Given Saleh’s history with San Francisco’s Warner, the team should target an athletic linebacker at some point during the first three rounds.
This year’s linebacker class is littered with talent ranging from surefire first-rounders Nakobe Dean and Devin Lloyd to likely day two targets Brian Asamoah, Chad Muma, and Brandon Smith. All of the listed players are three-down linebackers who would be instant-impact players for the Jets' defense.