Has Free Agency Helped the Jets thus far for the April draft?

Have the NFL free agency signings of the first week improved the chances that the Jets now may be able to draft some players that they might not have been able to target previously? I think they have. Keeping in mind that some free agent signings are mere stop gap additions that merely screen the intentions of teams to draft a player at that position anyway, I believe the players mentioned in this discussion are impactful starters for the most part that will change the direction of how teams draft.

Starting from the top, Kansas City's signing of our departing Mike Devito, and the Jaguars signing of Tampa defensive tackle Lamar Miller, make it less likely that these teams will draft rushers or defensive tackles, and more likely that they will take the best offensive tackles available to them, Luke Joeckel, Eric Fisher, or Lane Johnson.

In addition, the Jaguars have done nothing about their miserable quarterback situation, and therefore they still could draft Geno Smith at No. 2 or trade back, beyond the Jets. As of this writing, Jacksonville, Cleveland, Arizona, and Buffalo are unhappy about their quarterbacks situation. Buffalo is practically "naked" there having released starter Ryan Fitzpatrick this week. All four of these teams draft ahead of the Jets. Every quarterback drafted is one more elite rusher available to the Jets. And an elite defensive tackle, should Izad surprise us and say take Shariff Floyd of Florida.

The Eagles are said to be eyeing Shariff should he escape the clutches of the Oakland Raiders.

The Browns laid out big bucks this week for Paul Kruger to leave Baltimore and come to Cleveland and shore up their front 7. This makes it more likely that the Browns will take corner back Dee Milliner if he is available, or Geno Smith, if he is still on the board.

The Arizona Cardinals may take a quarterback or a desperately needed offensive tackle, but of the 8 teams who draft ahead of the Jets, they are least likely to take a pass rusher.

And of course, in the less likely scenario that our three most probable draftees---Dion Jordan, Jarvis Jones, and Ezeckiel Ansah---are gone, one of the elite tackles will therefore be available, and the apparent least desired scenario, Alabama offensive guard Chance Warmack, will almost certainly be available at 9, should the brain trust in Florham Park not be intimidated by a guy who is projected to be a Pro Bowler for the next 15 years. Worst things have happened to the Jets in the draft.

In addition, the pervasive appearance of top notch offensive and defensive tackles in this draft is pushing pass rushers once deemed early first round picks, Demontre Moore of Texas A&M, Sam Montgomery of LSU, and Bjoern Werner of Florida State (once considered the No. 2 pick to Jacksonville), so far down they now appear likely to fall into the second round.

The Jets needed a play making tight end who can also block even before Dustin Keller signed with the Dolphins. We could wait for the versatile Vance McDonald of Rice until probably the third round. He's versatile because he can play H-back and even took snaps out of the backfield: the kind of versatility that we know Rex Ryan adores. Yet my gut feeling is that the Jets would like to get the best all around tight end in the draft, Tyler Eifert of Notre Dame. Eifert may now be available for the Jets in the second round. The three teams with the most pressing tight end need, Miami, Chicago, and Atlanta, all took care of that need this week. Besides the Dolphins' signing of Keller, to replace Anthony Fasano, the Bears signed Martellus Bennett away from the Giants, and the Falcons convinced Hall of Fame tight end Anthony Gonzalez to post pone retirement for another year. In addition, the Dolphins lost stellar corner back Sean Smith to the Chiefs, making is essential for the Phins to draft a top corner in April.

With rebuilding the offensive and defensive lines and line backing corps critical priorities, it does not seem logical that the Jets will address the running back position early in the draft, if at all, since Bilal Powell, Mike Goodson, and Joe McKnight seem ideal to operate the impending West Coast offense. Nevertheless, I would not rule out the Jets taking Alabama game changer Eddie Lacy should he be available as an extra first round pick, via an exchange for Revis as a draft pick, or a second round pick. The most likely stop off point for Lacy, the Atlanta Falcons, signed Steven Jackson for Michael Turner's replacement this week, making it likely that Lacy, recovering from a small hamstring tear, would be available in the second round when the Jets draft. And the Dolphins seem satisfied with the Daniel Thomas-Lamar Miller duo. The Rams are confident in their triple youth contingent of Isaiah Pead, Daryl Richardson, and Terance Ganaway (cut by the Jets last summer). The Bengals could use an upgrade at running back but lost elite offensive tackle Andre Smith and need a linebacker. The Packers lost receiver Greg Jennings in free agency to the Vikings and cut the great Charles Woodson. On top of that, they desperately need another top notch pass rusher.

All in all, I'd say free agency thus far has improved the Jets' draft prospects.

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