We are just a few weeks out from the NFL Draft, and unsurprisingly much of the discussion for the Jets is about their needs. This is natural.
What I find striking about the discussion is how narrowly focused it is. Needs only seem to be discussed in the context of the position groups where the team is weakest. You frequently see mock drafts derided which contain selections of players outside of these weak positions. “We have too many needs to do this,” is the refrain.
Of course relying on rookies is seldom a path to success in the NFL. The Draft is not really about addressing immediate needs, but let’s put that aside for a second.
Needs exist in contexts outside of a team’s weakest position groups.
When I look at this Jets roster, the biggest need I see isn’t a player at one specific position. It is the overall lack of top end talent.
It is nice to enter a season without a position group lacking in NFL talent, but having credible players across the board isn’t enough to win in this league.
The Jets roster as currently constructed lacks any unit that can impose its will on the other team. There is no group that forces the other team to alter it’s approach.
Is this offensive line so dominant that teams will be compelled to drop extra safeties into the box to help against the run?
Is the pass rush so fearsome that teams will feel the need to keep extra blockers in more than they otherwise might?
Is there a rangy ballhawking free safety who eliminates seam and posts passes from the opposing game plan?
Is there a shutdown corner so dominant that it changes how the other team deploys its receivers?
Every offseason the discussion is the same. A pick that addresses an area where a team is weak makes sense. A pick that comes from an area where a team isn’t weak doesn't.
But we have ample evidence that this isn’t always the path to success in the NFL. We just watched the Cincinnati Bengals, a team with some pronounced weaknesses, almost win the championship because they have areas of overwhelming strength.
Now in an ideal world, the elite game-changing talent available in the Draft will align with areas of weakness.
Of course there are other considerations at play. The current state of the wide receiver room and the position’s outsized importance on Zach Wilson’s development will likely require the team to take a receiver early.
I do feel like there’s too much tunnel vision when it comes to needs with the Draft. Not all needs are filled with a player at a specific position. It’s more important to find impact players who can lift your roster up regardless of where they play.