The Jets have a long road ahead of them if they want to win the AFC East. Who should they target in this year's draft to kick-start their journey?
First Round Target – Mitchell Trubisky, Quarterback, North Carolina
The Jets history of quarterbacks isn’t great, and after a disastrous 2016 season by Ryan Fitzpatrick they simply have to go after a passer at some point in the draft this year. The 6th overall selection is higher than any of these passers should go based on raw talent, but Trubisky is the best thrower of the lot, and that could end up making him a very high pick.
Trubisky has a good arm, with the ability to push the ball down the field, but with just one season starting and a lack of experience dropping back from under center there is a lot of work still to be done with him. The risks are all plain as day with such an inexperienced player, but there are moments of magic in Trubisky where he moves around to buy time and zips the ball in, looking almost like Aaron Rodgers. The ceiling is high, but the floor is low with him but I think the Jets have to take the chance and go with him.
First Round Target – Marcus Lattimore, Cornerback, Ohio State
If the Jets decide not to roll the dice on Trubisky, or one of the other passers, they are likely to turn their attention to the cornerback position, which means Marcus Lattimore.
After cutting Darrelle Revis and missing badly on Dee Milliner the Jets are in desperate need of help at cornerback, despite signing Morris Claiborne, and Lattimore is far and away the best available player.
Lattimore has good height and length for the position with elite athleticism and superb technique. He can run with all but the most elite deep threats thanks to very fluid hips and great footwork and he has great press technique to slow them off the line. Lattimore has all of the traits anyone could want in their cornerback and he has a good chance to lead the next generation at the position.
Mid Round Target – Antonio Garcia, Offensive Tackle, Troy
The Jets added Kelvin Beachum in free agency, unfortunately he is nothing but a small plaster on a huge wound as far as the Jets offensive line goes. Garcia is someone who could turnout to be a long-term solution at offensive tackle.
He has great footwork and athleticism for the position, and has proven to handle speed rushes well during his college career. However he is a little slight for the position right now and probably needs time to add some mass to his frame and polish his technique. With time to play behind Beachum and the pressure off early he could flourish into a quality pass protector for the future.
Mid Round Target – JuJu Smith-Schuster, Wide Receiver, USC
With Brandon Marshall gone and the offense needing work across the board someone like Smith-Schuster could be a very useful piece for the Jets in years to come.
He possesses good size and is aggressive in hunting the ball in the air. He’s got great instincts against zone coverage and is a reliable blocker already. While he lacks top end athleticism and his route running needs polish a good coaching staff should be able to build him into a very solid NFL receiver.
Late Round Target – Marquel Lee, Inside Linebacker, Wake Forest
Lee is a big ‘backer and a good run defender. He is limited in his pass coverage and is unlikely to amount to anything other than a 1st & 2nd down player, but he could become a useful part of the Jets roster if he can take on NFL coaching and improve some of his weaknesses in play recognition and block shedding.
Late Round Target – Tarik Cohen, Running Back, North Carolina A&T
Cohen is Darren Sproles 2.0. He’s 5’6” and an electric ball carrier capable of breaking ankles and making everyone miss in both the open field and small space. His small stature means he’s never going to be a bellcow, or even hit double-digit carries regularly, but he doesn’t need to. He’s a home run threat and an elite receiver out of the backfield whose inability to play the traditional parts of the position will limit his draftability.