The Jets’ #1 Draft Need

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Stew Milne-US PRESSWIRE

An elite pass-rusher is simply not even close to our most immediate or pressing need and should not be addressed with our first draft pick.  Many analysts believe that the Jets will take the best available pass-rusher with the 16th pick or, worse yet, trade up for a short-armed pass-rusher.

While it would be great to have an elite pass-rush, an elite pass-rush by no means directly translates into wins.  For example, neither of the two teams that were tied with the most sacks last season even made the playoffs (Minnesota and Philadelphia).  Having an elite pass rush is simply not essential to winning – especially for the Jets.  The Jets have arguably the best group of CB’s in the NFL.  By having an outstanding secondary, it eases the need for defenses to have an outstanding pass rush.  You need to be good at at least one to have a sound defense.  If you can be great at one and even just average at the other, you’ll have a very good defense – which is what the Jets have.  The Jets were in the middle of the pack last year in sacks.  They were tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers at 17th in the league with 35 sacks.  In each of the last three years, the Jets’ defense has been ranked in the top five (yds/g).  In 2009, when the Jets had the number 1 ranked defense, they had fewer sacks and were ranked lower in sacks than last season.  It would be great if we could improve our pass rush through the draft, however, our other needs are too severe for us to afford that luxury.  With our CB’s, it is possible to have a top defense while having just an average pass-rush.

In a year when it seems that there are more holes in the roster than usual going into the draft, one, in my opinion, looms larger than any other.  Offensive Tackle is a need that I believe needs to be addressed with our first pick.  My choice would be Jonathan Martin.  While he was once considered a top ten pick, following his lackluster pro day, his draft stock has fallen considerably.  That said, his subpar performance at his pro day doesn’t detract from a stellar collegiate career at Standford.  In addition to being of prototypical size, he is a highly intelligent player with high character and effort.  Martin turned down the opportunity to attend Harvard.  Had he opted to attend Harvard, he would have been the first fourth-generation African-American Harvard student.  Martin is a player, like Furgeson and Mangold, that could be plugged into our line day one and be a stalwart contributor for the next 10 years.

I think games are won from the inside out – the battle in the trenches is crucial.  Inconsistent and poor play by the OL negatively impacts everything teams try and do offensively.  QB’s can’t throw when given no time and RB’s can’t run when given no holes.  Nothing else matters offensively if you’re line is not effective.

The Jets were ranked 22nd in the league in 3rd down efficiency last season converting 34.6% of 3rd downs.  In 2010, the Jets were ranked 11th in 3rd down efficiency converting 40.4% of 3rd downs.  I believe the main reason for this sharp decline was the departure of Damien Woody.  They are certainly big shoes to fill and, in my opinion, it should be the Jets number one priority.  If we can improve that 3rd down efficiency, it obviously helps our defense.  One of the core benefits of a ground and pound philosophy is to minimize the opponents offensive output by limiting their opportunities to score.  It also helps to keep our defense fresh.  Last year, the Jets lost several games in the forth quarter because the defensive gave up critical plays at the end of the game.  Adding a solid RT will help our defense by extending our offensive drives thus keeping opponent’s offenses off the field and keeping our defense fresh.

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