One of the keys to success in the NFL is drafting well. Perhaps the biggest reason is how inexpensive young players are. This is a league with a salary cap. It is also a league where free agents are expensive. Because of spending limits, it is impossible to fill a team with quality players just based on free agency. The Jets were perhaps the most active spending team in the league in free agency this offseason, and they still were not able to fill every single hole they had.
This leaves the Draft to make up for the rest of the difference. It isn't always about drafting players to fill needs either. Sometimes drafting a player can help the team by allowing a more expensive player to leave. If you can go with a substantially cheaper young player at a position over a more expensive veteran, the leftover money can be used to fortify the roster in some other area.
With that in mind, here are players the Jets class of 2015 could potentially replace at a cheaper price. I'll leave off Bryce Petty because quarterback follows a different set of rules.
Leonard Williams-Muhammad Wilkerson
I won't go into great detail here because much digital ink has already been spilled over this, and I'm sure plenty more will be in the next few months. Let's just say the selection of Williams makes the decision much easier for the Jets if Wilkerson's contract demands get out of control.
Devin Smith-Brandon Marshall
Marshall still might be able to play at a high level, but he has no dead money if the Jets cut him after this season. This team is not looking at a ton of cap space in 2016. If Smith can be an impact player at receiver early in his career, the Jets could move on from Marshall and be able to spend $8 million elsewhere.
Lorenzo Mauldin-Quinton Coples
Coples has yet to take to outside linebacker. His $7.7 pricetag for 2016 on his fifth year option seems like too much.
Jarvis Harrison-James Carpenter
It would be great if Harrison was ready to be a quality starter on day one opposite Carpenter. It is a lot to ask a rookie fifth rounder to immediately step into the lineup, though. It might be slightly more realistic to hope another one of the unprovens at guard provides quality play, and in a year or two Harrison can step in and save the Jets $2-3 million.
Deon Simon-Damon Harrison
Harrison plays a different position from the likes of Wilkerson, Williams, and Sheldon Richardson. With so much talent on the defensive line, though, it might be difficult to justify paying a much more limited player in Harrison market value. Harrison's best attribute is eating space on a three man line. The Jets are presumably going to try and get their talented linemen together on the field a lot. That makes Harrison less valuable. Simon is likely going to be on the practice squad in 2015, but the Jets are going to try and develop him into a player. It would really help the team out if after a year of development, he was ready to play and take Harrison's role. The Jets could let Snacks go, save money, and possibly pick up a compensatory pick.