This article is based on the final 2012 season grades from PFF for Jets starters and significant backups. With these, perhaps we can better determine just what the strengths and weaknesses were on the team so that we can get a better idea of the positions that should get a higher priority in the offseason.
I acknowledge all of the valid criticism concerning the PFF grading system: that the methodology is not revealed and open to subjectivity, that the professionalism of the graders themselves is open to question, that the grades are only affected by plays in which a player has a direct effect, and that the final grade - positive or negative - is variable depending on the number of plays for each player. These criticisms have merit, and the grades themselves need to be taken with that in mind. Still, the discussion needs to be based on an objective, numerical basis rather than just a disagreement of various opinions. And this is really the only valid grading system out there. So here we go:
QB - Mark Sanchez (22.8) 37th out of 38 QBs graded. Not only is this the 2nd worst grade among NFL QBs who played 25% of their team's plays, it is the very worst grade among all Jets players. Given the importance of the QB position, this is completely unacceptable. There is no higher priority.
RB - Shonn Greene (2.3) 46th out of 59 RBs. Powell 1.2, McKnight (0.5). Not Good. I will say that Greene's grade improved in the 2nd half of the year to the point where he almost got into a plus grade. But Greene is a FA and he doesn't fit at all in Marty's offense. The new RB needs to be effective in the passing game. Powell and Mcknight could both have better years next year - especially McKnight, but this is still a big priority.
FB - Lex Hilliard (8.7) 25th out of 25 FBs. This guy stinks. Thanks for nothing Sparano - see ya both. We may not even have a FB next year. If we do, it will probably be a Minimum FA.
WR - Jeremy Kerley 1.5, Santonio Holmes, 0.5, Stephen Hill (6.5), Clyde Gates 4.0, Chaz Schillens (1.2). Could the Jets use an upgrade at the WR position? Yes, very much so. But this is one position where there are starters in place, and where we can expect improvement from a healthy Holmes and a more seasoned Hill. There are other bigger priorities.
TE - Dustin Keller (0.6), Jeff Cumberland 1.4, Konrad Reuland (7.4). Keller is a FA, was not happy he didn't get an extension last year, and will most likely walk. Cumberland is a restricted FA and the Jets could probably bring him back pretty cheap - but preferably as a no. 2 TE. One thing about the Jets TEs in 2012, they were all graded very weak in blocking (jury is still out on Hayden Smith). This is a pretty big priority and one that is sometimes overlooked.
OLine - Ferguson 23.5, Moore 21.3, Mangold 20.5, Howard 8.5, Slauson 2.4, Ducasse 0.5, J. Smith 6.5. There is a large disagreement among fans about the performance of the Jets OLine in 2012, but according to PFF, it was one of the better OLines in the NFL. Not nearly as good as the extraordinary 2009 OLine, but still strong. If the Jets can resign one of their FA Guards (I would say Moore), it should be strong again in 2013. We should make a run at keeping J. Smith as well, if he can be signed for near vet minimum. It would be great if the Jets could acquire one more good/great Guard, but I'm not so sure this is as big a priority as others seem to think.
DLine - Wilkerson 49.3, Coples 1.5, DeVito 11.5, Pouha 1.5, Ellis (2.3). Not sure if the Jets will be a 4-3 or a 3-4 next year, but lets not get too hung up on it - the Jets change formations constantly anyway. Lets just say they need to have a minimum of 4 good DLinemen, and they only have 2. Wilkerson and Coples are obvious (Mo is really the only Jet who grades out as an elite NFL player). The probable loss of Devito is going to hurt more than fans realize - his run defense is excellent - and he should have been extended last offseason. Neither Pouha nor Ellis showed enough to be considered answers last year, and the run D suffered for it. Despite the fact that the Jets have spent 2 straight no. 1 picks on the DLine, this continues to be a pretty big priority, especially at NT.
LB - Harris (15.2), Scott 1.1, Pace (17.3), Thomas 0.3, Davis (2.5), McIntyre (8.6), Mauga (1.9). Total nightmare. Incredibly, despite the fact that Bart Scott was probably the most reviled Jet this year outside of the QBs, he had the highest grade of any Jet LB (still not good, but at least positive). Harris and Pace were just terrible according to PFF. But getting rid of Scott, Pace, and Thomas in and of itself will not automatically make the Jets any better because none of the backup LBs were any good either. They Jets have to hope Davis improves - another full year as a pro should help. But OLB needs a complete overhaul. 2nd biggest priority behind QB.
CB. - Revis 5.9, Cromartie 10.1, Wilson (3.0), Lankster (7.0), Trufant (1.6). The trade Revis/Cromartie decision is outside of the scope of this discussion. As of right now, this is the Jets last priority.
Safety - Landry (3.5), Bell (1.7), Smith (1.8), Antonio Allen (4.2), Bush (0.7). Large discrepancy between Landry's grade and his pro bowl selection, and its probably fair to ay that the truth lies somewhere in between. Anyway, its doubtful the Jets can sign Landry this offseason. Smith has to be finally out of here (I hope so, anyway). Allen and Bush showed nothing that they can be reliable starters. So that leaves us with - nobody. 3rd largest priority.
In conclusion, the Jets have many, many holes to fill. If you argue that one of the positions doesn't get a high enough priority here, than you have to answer how the other position(s) will be handled. Using these ratings and looking at who will be back next year suggests the following priorities: