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New York Jets 2016 NFL Draft: Top 3 Needs

Now that the major free agent signings have been finalized, the Last Word On Sports NFL department will be looking at the top three needs for each team heading into the 2016 NFL Draft. Today, the New York Jets are the focus. After a season where the Jets narrowly missed the playoffs, they hope to cement a 2016 run with upgrades at these three main positions.

New York Jets 2016 NFL Draft: Top 3 Needs

Outside Linebacker

There is one draft priority that has consistently remained at the top for the New York Jets and that is the outside linebacker position. The Jets waived their former first-round pick Quinton Coples last season, veteran free agent Calvin Pace is improbable to return, and Sheldon Richardson, who put in some starts at outside linebacker late last season, will likely return to his spot at the defensive end position. This all combines to leave a relatively large gap in the Jets otherwise solid front seven.

The Jets will go into the 2016 season with second-year player Lorenzo Mauldin hoping to attain the first of two starting outside linebacker spots. The second spot is wide open and the Jets must use an early pick in the 2016 Draft to fill this need. The Jets have consistently had one of the league’s top defenses and we have seen how far a top defense can carry a team. Therefore, in a year where the team hopes to redeem themselves after a season that just fell short of being a great success, they will need to find an edge rusher. With Myles Jack and Joey Bosa both projected to go early on in the draft, the Jets may have Georgia’s Leonard Floyd available as the best option for them in the first round. I suggest they take him if he is available.

Offensive Tackle

Despite making great offensive strides last season, the Jets second biggest need can be found at the offensive tackle position. To many, the current combo of Breno Giacomini and D’Brickashaw Ferguson may not initially stand out as a major issue. However, there are definite signs of uncertainty at this spot that have only been made more apparent throughout this offseason.

The biggest concern that exists in terms of this offensive tackle duo is the matter of Ferguson’s mess of a contract. This has been a thorn in the sides of Jets management during this free agency process, and yet has still been pushed aside rather than resolved. Until this contract is reworked, I will not consider Ferguson anything more than unreliable. Couple this with the fact that Giacomini is coming off of a mediocre-at-best season and you are left with two expendable options at offensive tackle. I will certainly not be surprised if one of these options is not on the roster come the start of the 2016 season. We should expect to see an early offensive tackle pickup by the Jets in the draft.

Inside Linebacker

In terms of top three needs, this choice was particularly difficult. Options for the Jets could very well be interchangeable with the need for a tight end and a right guard. In the end, I made the decision to place the need for an inside linebacker at a higher priority than the other two positions.

The emphasis on the Jets tight end position seems to be evident year-in and year-out around draft time. This year, however, it should not be a priority, as 23-year-old tight end Jace Amaro is coming off of an injury and should be an upgrade from Jeff Cumberland. Whether or not Amaro showcases any talent, offensive coordinator Chan Gailey has shown his ability to operate a fluent offense without the utilization of a pass catching tight end. The other option, a right guard, is not a low priority because I believe Brian Winters is a reliable guard, but because his replacement could be found in the middle or late rounds of the draft. On the contrary, the inside linebacker position needs to be upgraded sooner rather than later. Currently, the two set starters at inside linebacker are David Harris and Erin Henderson, who will fill the spot left from the loss of Demario Davis. To make this short and frank, Harris is 32 years of age and Henderson is only suited to be a short-term fill, not a starter. The Jets will need to draft a better option, not only for this season, but for the future.

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