Come May 8th at Radio City Music Hall, plenty of fans wearing green will be waiting to hear who the New York Jets select in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
For most of the offseason, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that the Jets would draft a wide receiver with their first round pick in this year’s draft. Inconsistent rookie quarterback Geno Smith and gang green’s inept offense in 2013 had us all expecting the selection of an offensive weapon with the No. 18 overall pick. The truth is, it’s been several seasons now of the Jets not giving their quarterbacks enough offensive weapons. It was one of the things that led to Mark Sanchez’s downfall and it’s a large reason why the jury is still out on Geno.
More recently, talk has picked up about the Jets perhaps going defense with that first pick. Since losing Antonio Cromartie and missing out on several free agent cornerbacks including Darrelle Revis, the Jets are playing catch up in bolstering the secondary. New York is certainly hurting in the defensive backfield and could badly use an upgrade at the position. Cornerback was already an issue in 2013 and has since gone largely unaddressed.
Despite the legitimate concerns for the Jets defense, general manager John Idzik needs to think offense with the No. 18 pick and draft a wide receiver. There’s reason to be worried about the defense but New York will have to rely on their front seven just as they did in 2013. The continued development of Mo Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson with strong linebacker play has to be enough to anchor Rex Ryan’s defense in 2014. First priority has to be this offense must which continue to be upgraded in order to make sense of the offseason moves.
Eric Decker is a significant upgrade for the Jets and definitely qualifies as a weapon for either Smith or Michael Vick. But Decker, like any no. 2 receiver needs help around him so defenses can’t key on him. The Jets not getting a player that could contribute on offense right away would be, in a way, wasting their $36 million or at least the first year of it.
They didn’t bring Decker here to make the Jets receiving corps dangerous by himself and shouldering the load with only Jacoby Ford and Jeremy Kerley is a tall order AKA recipe for failure (in one’s opinion). Kerley is reliable on third down and hopefully Ford stretches the field with his game-breaking speed but NFL-caliber wide receivers will be available and the Jets can’t miss upgrading in their largest area of need.
The failure to make more addition at the wide receiver position post-Decker leaves the Jets in a spot where they need more play makers on offense. To compliment Decker it’s got to be Brandin Cooks, Marquise Lee or Odell Beckham Jr. for the Jets. All three are similar in size, they’re all fluid athletes with excellent ball skills coming out of college and any one, two or even all three of them could be on the board when the Jets pick.
It’s a tough spot for Ryan to be in. He needs to make the playoffs this season and the offense needs to be further addressed. With that said Rex is a defensive minded coach and will now have to use his genius schematically to keep the Jets afloat despite a lack of personnel. It’s unfortunate but players can no longer be drafted for a coach who may be out of the job this time next season.
The best move for the Jets to make the playoffs sooner than later is still to draft an offensive contributor and trust Rex on the defensive side. Question marks are sure to be floating around come training camp time but the Jets will be forced to rely on Rex, the hopeful improvement of Dee Milliner and the health of Dimitri Patterson.
Help could also be on the way in the form of a later-round pick, which the Jets have plenty of. With twelve picks in all, New York should certainly use a couple on the defensive backfield and could do so as early as the second round.
When push comes to shove, the Jets need to eradicate the issue that’s been hanging around for several seasons. It’s been too many years with such an obvious inability to score that New York would do well to put weapons around their quarterback and put some points on the board in 2014.