- Doug Kretz, Scouts Inc.
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As the NFL draft approaches, "SportsCenter" is putting every NFL team with a first-round pick "On the Clock," and Scouts Inc. will break down each team and look at what questions still need answering.
The Jets easily could go in either direction in 2008. They struggled badly in 2007, defeating only the Dolphins (twice), Chiefs and Steelers on their way to a 4-12 record. Head coach Eric Mangini went from a genius in 2006 to just another coach in 2007. The Jets slipped in virtually every offensive category, but their air attack suffered the most: their passing yards per game dropped from 17th in 2006 to 25th in 2007.
The defense also struggled last season, especially against the run. With virtually the entire coaching staff and personnel department unchanged, there is going to be pressure on GM Mike Tannenbaum and Mangini to put a more competitive product on the field in 2008.
The Jets did not stand pat this offseason. They made several big-name additions, and their biggest signing was G Alan Faneca, who was lured from the Steelers. Faneca teams with LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson and newly-acquired RT Damien Woody, improving the Jets' offensive line considerably. Add a quality blocking fullback such as Tony Richardson, whom they signed from the Vikings, and there is hope that the ground game will be able to take pressure off QB Kellen Clemens and the passing game. LB Calvin Pace, who was signed from Arizona, is starting to show signs he could flourish as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme, and the trade for NT Kris Jenkins will improve the middle of the defensive line.
The Jets don't think they lost any key personnel. The biggest name they lost in free agency was FS Erik Coleman (Falcons), but he had pretty much lost his starting job to second-year S Abram Elam. LB Jonathan Vilma was traded to the Saints. LB Victor Hobson was signed by the Patriots. Backup TE Sean Ryan was signed by the Dolphins, and WR Justin McCareins was released.
The top needs for the Jets going into the draft are a wide receiver (preferably one with big-time speed or red-zone presence), a cornerback to line up opposite Darrelle Revis and a quarterback. Clemens didn't show he could carry the team in the second half of the season and Chad Pennington is a physical liability with two shoulder surgeries behind him. However, the player who might drop down to them and end up being too good to pass up is Arkansas RB Darren McFadden. He would change the face of their ground game. If McFadden is already gone, the Jets probably will draft a defensive player because there are no wide receivers who warrant being taken with the sixth pick. CBs Leodis McKelvin from Troy, Aqib Talib from Kansas and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie from Tennessee State will be tempting, but DE Vernon Gholston probably would be too much of a value to pass up. Either way, the Jets must draft an impact player with this early pick and find a quality starter with their second pick because they don't have a third-round pick.
Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.
Scouts Inc. puts the Jets on the clock, breaking down their offseason moves and looking at what questions still need answers.