With the trade of John Abraham to Atlanta and the addition of a compensatory pick for their losses in free agency last year, the Jets have found themselves with 5 picks in the top 100 and a 6th three picks later at 103, with 10 picks in total. With so many holes and aging players the Jets will sure need those picks. The question then remains, who to choose?
Many have the Jets packaging the forth overall with either their second first rounder, 29th overall, or their second rounder, 35th overall, to try to trade up with the Saints to the second overall pick to select Matt Leinart of USC. I would have to question this move greatly, and for various reasons.
Matt Leinart has a winning pedigree from his college career, but will that translate to the NFL? Leinart has a serviceable, but not great arm. Sound familiar? There are also questions about his priorities. He chose his entertainment agent before his sports agent, whom he just happened to recently fired. Is Leinart committed to being a playoff caliber quarterback or will his head remain with the stars in California? The Jets should let someone else find that out.
The Jets need all of the picks that they would have had to trade in order to move up. They have holes or need upgrades at running back, offensive line, defensive line, linebackers and secondary. Quarterback is actually one of their lesser concerns. Thus if they stay at pick four they should pass on Vince Young and Jay Cutler, if they are available as well. Both of those quarterbacks come with questions.
Can Vince Young translate his game to the NFL? Will his side-armed motion cause problems? Can he function from under center? There was minimal news of Cutler throughout the recent college season. Why has he suddenly shot up so many drafts boards? Is he just a workout wonder who seems to have all the tools, but has yet to translate those tools into wins, think Kyle Boller? Let other teams answer those questions.
The Jets have quite a few quarterback questions of their own to answer. Chad Pennington was once thought highly enough to be paid as a franchise quarterback, can he achieve that level again? Is Patrick Ramsey a victim of an ever changing offensive system and lack of confidence from his coaches. Does he have what it takes to be an NFL starter? Is a change of scenery all that he needs?
The Jets are not competing this year, they are rebuilding. They need to use the year to answer the Quarterback questions that they already have. If Pennington is not ready to open the season, see what Ramsey has. If Pennington is healthy, see if he can repeat 2002 when he looked to be the next Joe Montana. Do not give up on him that easily, especially with so much invested in him. Besides, if both Pennington and Ramsey fail there is always the draft in 2007 and...
Brady Quinn. If any draft picks should be traded they should be traded with an eye on next year. The Jets need to consider acquiring a second first round pick for next year. Perhaps trade their second first rounder for a low second or high third this year and a first next. Or trade the second rounder for a first next year and something lower this year. That way with two first round draft picks in hand, one of which should be relatively high since they should not win much this year, they can position themselves to trade up for Brady Quinn, if they find themselves still in need of a Quarterback in 2007. If not, they have two first rounders to do with as they please next year. The Patriots have used this strategy in the past to much success, using the current draft to stockpile picks for the future.
So that is what the Jets should not do. Now what should they do
If Mario Williams is available, take him. He should be available as the Saints should trade the second pick to a QB hungry team, and the Titans should then chose one of the remaining QB's and of course Houston will take Reggie Bush.
Mario Williams is the most exciting defensive end since Julius Peppers, but he has the utility of a Richard Seymour, whom the Jets coach Eric Mangini is very familiar with. Mario Williams will be the Jets' Seymour. He will mainly be utilized as a DE in the 3-4 alignment, but he can move inside, where the Jets have little depth, in the 4-3 alignment and on passing downs.
The Jets have Shaun Ellis as one DE, and they signed Kimo von Oelhoffen from the Steelers penciled into the other spot. However, he is 36 years-old and at this point in his career, he is not an every-down player. Thus a perfect rotation system is formed, and this would leave the Jets with a formidable front line, in the 3-4 alignment, of Shawn Ellis, Dewayne Robertson, and now Mario Williams, with Kimo von Oelhoffen rotating in and providing veteran leadership.
If Williams is unavailable, the Jets should draft A.J. Hawk over D'Brickashaw Ferguson. The Jets do in fact have a gaping hole at offensive tackle, however their one current starter Adrian Jones played fairly well as the left tackle last year, for a second year player. His progression has actually been similar to that of Kareem McKenzie and Jason Fabini before him, lower round tackles that gradually worked their way in and became solid starters. Why mess with that success and move Jones to the right tackle position where he will be less effective lacking the bulk and power that position requires.
Instead, sign a veteran stop-gap for the right tackle position, and draft the future starter in the middle rounds. Or maybe even hope one of the second-tier tackles fall to the Jets with their second first round or second round pick. Instead of having two left tackles, the Jets can allow A.J. Hawk to provide an electrifying tackle-machine presence in the middle of the Jets 3-4 defense teaming with pro-bowler Jonathan Vilma to form an unstoppable force.
With their second first round pick, the 29th overall, the Jets can think offensive line, with center Nick Mangold of Ohio State, or tackles Marcus McNeil of Auburn or Eric Winston of Miami or look for a pass-rushing linebacker such as Thomas Howard of UTEP or Kamerion Wimbley of Florida State and look back the other way with their second round pick, the 35th overall. The Jets just signed center Trey Teague formerly of Buffalo, but he could move to guard if Mangold was drafted, or just provide depth.
The Jets can then look for the best available players with their two third rounders, 71st and 97th overall, while concentrating on a running back to team with Curtis Martin and eventually replace him, and secondary depth. While their remaining picks, 103th, 117th, 138th, 173rd, and 211th overall can be spent on depth and the best available players, hopefully netting a wide receiver who can compete to return kicks and punts, a tight end, line depth on both sides and more secondary depth.
Using this strategy will immediately improve the teams defense, and allow the offense a year to flesh out before drastic changes are made that have a far greater chance of being busts. Plus a spot needs to be saved for Brady Quinn.