It's no secret that the Jets are extremely thin on the ground in terms of safeties. We have three safeties on the roster in LaRon Landry, Eric Smith and Tracy Wilson. We could sign O.J Atogwe to a short term contract, bring back Leonard on a short one year contract and draft a project safety late. We could do this, at the moment we are standing firm and waiting it out. What we shouldn't do is reach for a safety in a draft class that is devoid of elite or even great talent based on team needs.
I'm all in favour of short term plugs this year, based on the talent that could be available in the 2013 NFL draft. I know some people really like Martin from Oklahoma State, Barron from Alabama, Iloka from Boise State or Harrison Smith from Notre Dame. All of those guys are good players. For what we need, I automatically look away from Iloka and Barron. Iloka loses a step every time he is asked to flick his hips and change direction, I honestly don't believe that he will be able to cover slot receivers and tight ends in the NFL to a level that we need in the AFC East. The same with Barron.
That leaves Martin and Harrison Smith. Both players I really like. Martin is the best coverage safety in this years draft class and as such fits the Jets mold more than any other. If we do end up taking either Martin or Smith, I will be pleased because both can develop into a very good starting safety at the next level. However looking at how the draft will likely play out next year, Safety is going to be one of the strongest positions. We would be wise to grab OLB/DE/RT/WR this year and roll with some plaster safeties.
As John mentioned today, it seems as though the organizational thinking in relation to the RT position is to wait and hope that Vlad develops rather than draft a more ready prospect early. If we reach and select a safety early in 2012 will we bypass safeties in 2013.
Right now I'm pushed to really get excited about any safety in the 2012 class. There could be as many as 4 first round safeties in the 2013 NFL draft. T.J McDonald of USC, Baccari Rambo of Georgia, Robert Lester of Alabama and Tony Jefferson of Oklahoma. I would take all four of those guys. There is some speculation that Rambo will go in the Supplemental draft this year, I don't think he will. I wouldn't be surprised to see a guy like Eric Reed at LSU make the big step up this year. Matt Elam and Ray Ray Armstrong at the strong position too.
The bottom line is that the 2013 NFL Draft is projected to be stacked with safety talent. We don't know who declares so there is always a risk. However if we are taking a safety in 2012, it needs to be because we really believe he can be the future at the position, not just because we need to fill a gap in the team. If we want to fill a gap, sign Atogwe and Leonard, if we draft Martin or Smith I can sign on there, but we should under no circumstances reach for a square peg in a round hole.