2014 NFL Draft: Don't Expect the Jets to Invest in an Explosive Edge Rusher

Jeff Zelevansky

This year's NFL Draft has some great edge rushing talent. The top end players might require the Jets to trade up. It is a tantalizing idea. The Jets have plenty of beef up front. Add an explosive talent to fly in from the outside linebacker position, and the other defense has problems. You can't double team Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson, and an outside linebacker all at once. Somebody will have a favorable matchup. Don't get your hopes up, though.

It certainly would go against the Jets' philosophy to take an outside linebacker. In five years, the Jets have never used a pick on somebody to play outside linebacker as a rookie, not even a seventh rounder. With a coach as defensive-oriented as Rex Ryan, that is probably not an accident. The team does not seem to put a premium on the position relative to other spots on the defense.

I think it goes beyond this, however. Things could always change, but the Jets at this point seem invested in Quinton Coples playing outside linebacker. If there is a four man pass rush, Coples is going to be rushing the passer on most plays. That means the other guy is going to be dropping into coverage. It is too simplistic to say the Jets are going to play a 3-4 with Coples rushing and the other guy dropping on every play, but the linebacker across from Coples is not going to be primarily a pass rusher. He'll have to be well-rounded.

Maybe the Jets will change their mind, but for better or worse they currently seem committed to playing things this way. That probably means no edge rusher early.

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