COMMENTARY | Make no mistake: The New York Jets are in full rebuilding mode. And this year's NFL draft is the most important one for this team since 2006.
But with so many holes, what should that game plan be?
The strength of the 2013 draft class is in the trenches, the offensive and defensive lines. And that's precisely where the Jets should be focusing all their efforts this year.
Before the comments come flying in: I know the Jets still have Mark Sanchez at quarterback. But based on this year's crop of quarterbacks, would you feel comfortable using the number 9 overall selection on one of them? I wouldn't. I wouldn't take any one of the so-called top QBs in this class -- Geno Smith, Matt Barkley, Ryan Nassib, anyone -- before the second round. And only if there wasn't a higher-rated trench player available.
Why so high on the linemen? Let's look at both sides of the line:
On offense, even stalwarts D'Brickshaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold looked out of place last season. Part of the entire line's ineffectiveness was the lousy play calling. But in general, the entire squad just got beat too many times last season. Add the loss of starters Brandon Moore (unrestricted free agent) and Matt Slauson (signed with Chicago Bears), and you see that this group needs help.
This draft is filled with some stud linemen that can be had at number 9. Offensive linemen Chance Warmack, Eric Fisher, Jonathan Cooper or Lane Johnson could all step in and start. And each would be a better selection that any of the quarterbacks being rumored.
How about defense? The pass rush the Jets put on the field last season was atrocious. No player posted more than 5.5 sacks. Only seven players had more than two sacks. The front seven allowed seven teams to post more than 150 rushing yards in a game last season. Nine opponents scored better than 27 points against this defense last season. Don't be fooled by NFL stats: This was NOT the eighth-ranked defense in the league last season.
It all starts up front. They need to hurry the quarterback. They need to stop the run. They need to get tough. Former first-rounders Muhammad Wilkerson and Quinton Coples made small steps last season, but need help. And this draft can provide plenty of it: Dion James, Jarvis Jones, Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah, Barkevious Mingo, Star Lotulelei. All would help.
But it's not just the first round; the Jets and Idzik need to make the trenches their primary focus all draft weekend. Gang Green needs to get a little mad where the battles are won. This year's draft, from top to bottom, can provide that toughness.
Quarterback, wide receiver and running back are all sexier picks, but they're not going to matter if the Jets don't get tough where it matters most.
James Moffat has 10-plus years of journalism expertise, writing for daily print and online publications.
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