Despite the Jets experiencing a roller coaster type ride throughout Rex Ryan’s tenure with the New York Jets, I feel as if we are one or two big moves away from climbing a top the AFC EAST. This year there are great opportunities all over the free agent market for all 32 teams. While specifically taking a look at the Jets, there are great players that can truly take our gang green over the top. Not only in free agency, but this is one of the deepest draft classes all across the board I have seen in a while.
Rex has built a brand name defense through out his career and the Jets’ defense in 2013 was definitely fun to watch. However, that same defense ranked in the middle of the pack against the pass at 17th in the league but still managed to be the second best in the whole league against the run. It is no secret that the young dynamic duo of Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson played a big part in that. Quentin Coples and David Harris are key pieces to the puzzle as well. While analyzing why teams were able to pass against the Jets’ defense with little problem, it is true that our secondary struggled. Unfortunately, Dee Milliner missed a large part of the off season. Dee had to battle not only all of the struggles a rookie endures but also also his own health. However Milliner showed promise in the final quarter of the 2013 season so hopefully after going through a full off season, 2014 will be a great season for the Alabama alum.
On the offensive side of the ball Geno Smith was inconsistent but how much of it was really his fault? When taking a look at his "weapons", Geno does not have a top 10 caliber receiver or running back. Jeremy Kerley and Stephen Hill are both good targets, but they aren’t severe threats to secondaries. If the Jets could bring in another big time receiver Kerley and Hill could be even more effective, not to mention the contributions the newest addition would add.
So, who should the Jets pursue? The jets biggest need on defense is a safety. I think Jarius Byrd is a must pick up for gang green. A one time division rival, Byrd would already be familiar with the offense’s the Jets would face in the AFC East. Plus the fact he is a big time ball hawk is huge for the Jets. If Byrd takes his talents else where there are still great opportunities to pursue such as TJ Ward from Cleveland, Donte Whitner of San Francisco, Malcolm Jenkins the former Saint and New Jersey native or the hard hitting safety Louis Delmas recently released by the Lions would be also be solid.
Signing a number one corner is important as well. Alterraun Verner from Tennessee would be an excellent fit. Just like the safety position, there are so many outstanding corners available in free agency this year. Vontae Davis and Aqib Talib are also available.
After our number one priority of a safety, our number two priority is a running back. Darren Sproles is a big play waiting to happen which could relieve a lot of pressure from whoever the Jets’ 2014 signal caller may be. Although MJD (Maurice Jones Drew) is aging he can still be a three down back for the Jets on a 2-3 year contract. If the opportunity to sign a receiver in free agency is there for the Jets, Golden Tate is a great signing for gang green.
By the time the draft day of May 8th arrives, hopefully the Jets have signed some of those important pieces. Assuming the Jets have signed a corner already, weather it be Verner, Davis, or Talib, if Florida State Receiver Kelvin Benjamin is there at 18 I am taking him in a heart beat. However, if there is still a void at the corner position we should address that. It is rumored that the Corner Bradley Roby from Ohio State is being wined and dined by the Jets. Having drafted two talented young corners in consecutive years, along with signing a new safety via free agency makes a secondary that not even Tom Brady wants to face. Especially when quarterbacks have to first elude the tenacious defensive line I already mentioned. If we go on the defensive side of the ball in the first round, in later rounds there are still great players like work horse Tre Mason and big time play maker Brandin Cooks.
Drafting and signing big time receivers like Kelvin Benjamin and Golden Tate and also signing an explosive back can instantly make the Jets offense better. Addressing the secondary by adding one safety and one corner could make our already mean defense even scarier. It would be awesome to see Byrd and Verner join our secondary with Landry and Milliner. I think Geno Smith will perform much better with receivers like Benjamin and Tate and they will also be benefit from a solid running back like Jones-Drew. If all four of those positions can be improved, the Jets will be primed and ready to make a deep run into the play offs.