You know you had a bad year when your season is defined by a play called, “The Butt Fumble,” but alas, I give you the New York Jets. The Jets put a huge vote of confidence in head coach Rex Ryan by bringing him back when many figured he was one of the biggest locks to be fired this offseason among NFL coaches.
This is a Jets team facing a ton of turnover this year. They’ve got to be cooling off on Mark Sanchcez as the team’s franchise quarterback, and Tim Tebow obviously isn’t the answer there either. Leading rusher Shonn Greene was let go, and the Jets are going to see a huge makeover on the defensive side of the ball as well.
To say this team will look different next year is a major understatement, but despite their deficiencies, the Jets showed last year that they can be a tough out in a lot of games, so there’s some foundation there. Here is a mock draft over the first four rounds that I think could really help the Jets.
1. First Round, 9th overall: Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU
The Jets let go of Bryan Thomas and Calvin Pace, and have no pass rush returning from a year ago at the OLB position. They brought in specialist Antwan Barnes, formerly of the Ravens and Chargers, but he’s hardly a permanent replacement. I think the most likely spot for the Jets in the first round is the rush linebacker position, and Mingo is a great option. He is the kind of player who has speed off the edge, and he can make plays in the backfield. I think he may have some of the best pass rush potential of anyone in this class, and he should work really well with Rex Ryan even though he is a bit slimmer than preferred.
2. Second Round, 39th overall: Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford
Unless the Jets trade up, they are going to miss out on the first tier of quarterbacks. With guys like Tyler Bray and Tyler Wilson likely to be available after the second round, the Jets will focus on adding playmakers to an offense that is in desperate need of them. Zach Ertz is a red zone nightmare, and since the Jets lost Dustin Keller this offseason, they are going to need to add some weapons for Mark Sanchez, Greg McElroy, David Garrard, or whatever young QB they bring in. Ertz is a very solid pickup at this point, I think.
3. Third Round, 72nd overall: Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma
The Jets’ quarterback situation is a shambles. They called David Garrard out of retirement, and absolutely have no solution at this position long-term. I think Mark Sanchez is a serviceable starter but when the Jets started asking him to put the team on his back, you saw exactly what happened. I think in the third round, Landry Jones has as much upside as any other QB. He was once considered a contender for the number one pick, and after all his flaws were exposed as a starter over the last three years, Jones has dropped considerably. I still think he is a guy who can light it up passing the ball, and with the right coaching, he could flourish in the NFL. This would be a very good pick, in my opinion, and I would think Jones could contend for the starting job as soon as mid-season if Sanchez struggles again.
4. Fourth Round, 106th overall: D.J. Swearinger, S, South Carolina
LaRon Landry was a very good pickup for the Jets, but his time in New York was very short-lived. He has moved on to Indianapolis, so the Colts now have a need at safety with their two 2012 late-round picks in Josh Bush and Antonio Allen. Swearinger is a second or third round graded player who falls to the fourth round because of the overall depth of this draft. The Jets could use a higher pick on a safety, but I think Swearinger here would be great value.