The Jets have been one of the more active and noticeable teams in the draft the past several years. They’ve had some high profile hits, like Nick Mangold, D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Darrelle Revis. They’ve had the reciprocal, most notably with Vernon Gholston. And, they made the big trade up three years ago for their franchise signal caller in Mark Sanchez. Now, we can argue about whether Sanchez has proven himself to be that or not, but I personally believe that two AFC Championship games in your first two years means you’ve done your job at a relatively high level. Now, with those two bitter losses fresh in their minds, the Jets are in a position to add one or two key guys that could catapult them into the Super Bowl. But they’re also in a position to screw it up right quick if they take the wrong guys. We asked prolific football man and Jets fan Andrew Garda of Footballguys, Big East Gridiron, CheeseheadTV, The Thundering Blurb Podcast, and The Thundering Blurb to give us the skinny on the Jets’ draft needs and plans. To no one’s surprise, he did so rather ably. Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_garda.
Q: The Jets either already have, or presumably will, cut ties with some veterans that made key contributions up front, most notably Damien Woody and Kris Jenkins. What holes/positions do you think they will address with their early picks?
A: Early on they have to deal with those exact spots – I’ve said for years that they need at least more depth on the offensive line. With Woody perhaps being gone, if the right Olineman is there, they have to look at him. As for replacing Jenkins, right now I have them selecting Baylor DT Phil Taylor in the first. He’s explosive and a great run stopper and would fit the scheme well. A LB who is good dropping back into coverage across the middle is important too.
Q: They could end up without one or both of the veteran receivers, Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards. Do you think it’s likely they address WR through the draft?
A: I think they’ll look at who is there with the 3rd rounder and beyond. Even if they retain both Edwards and Holmes, it’s not like they have a deep corps. The biggest problem is having only a pair of picks in the first two days. So the Jets will have to be really careful with those picks and WR might have to wait until day 3 (barring trading back in round 1 or something). So I believe they will, but might have to wait a little to do it.
Q: Who is your favorite late round guy that you think would be a perfect fit?
A: I think Alabama QB Greg McElroy. He’s definitely a late round/free agent guy because he just doesn’t have the arm strength scouts like, isn’t terribly mobile and has to work out some mechanical kinks. That said, McElroy is a brilliant field tactician. He has great touch and timing and makes very smart decisions, so he is good at taking care of the ball. He’s a hard worker who is often a team leader as well. Nobody behind Sanchez instills confidence in me but I think McElroy could be his back-up for a long time and if Sanchez goes down, the Jets wouldn’t miss a beat.
Q: Is there a Jets need you think is being overlooked by most draft pundits?
A: As I just mentioned, a backup QB is something the team has to think about. They’ve been pretty bad at picking ones to develop so far so what is there isn’t inspiring and Mark Brunnel doesn’t make me feel much better. Sanchez has been banged up enough the past two seasons to where I feel that they need to address it sooner than later, but most pundits talk long and loud about the defensive line and forget everything else.
Q: What would a good 2011 Jets draft look like, in your opinion?
A: I think ideally that the Jets trading back a bit and getting a second rounder and another pick would be optimal. I’m not sure it would happen as it’s possible the sweet spot for panicked QB trades will be between 20 & 28.
Assuming no trades – and really this would be the way to go anyway – I’d say shore up the front seven early unless an OT they love slips to the 1.30. Probably Dline first, followed by a pass rushing beast of an OLB. On Day three, they should come away filling out depth on the Offensive and defensive lines and aim for a value wide receiver (Maybe small school phenom Cecil Shorts from Mount Union or Sanchez’s buddy Scotty McKnight out of Colorado). If possible, maybe someone with return ability but the NFL kind of just made that need less critical. And again, a late round QB prospect would be smart to grab. There are a lot of guys who could be career backups and the Jets need one. If not McElroy, perhaps a guy like Louisville QB Adam Froman or Minnesota’s Adam Weber. None will likely be starters but all could serve as very good backups for many years.