Anthony Eleftherion is a die-hard Jets fan who breaks down yesterday’s first round pick for the green and white. You can follow him on Twitter here.
The landscape of the Jets’ draft strategy over the years has ranged from selecting the player with astounding NFL Combine results (Vernon Gholston) to selecting the “best player available,” regardless of positional need. Both approaches surely have their downfalls, as evidenced by the Jets’ talent deficiency at skill positions. However, with the selection of Leonard Williams, the Southern Cal defensive end, did the Jets do themselves a disservice by failing to address an area of true need? Maybe.
Now that Williams is here, the Jets have three-to-four potential Pro Bowl-caliber defensive linemen. Conversely, the offensive side of the ball has one, maybe two, Pro Bowl-caliber players … and only on the offensive line. Unless Geno Smith somehow morphs into Joe Namath (hell, I’ll take Joe Theismann), it’s highly unlikely Brandon Marshall or Eric Decker make the Pro Bowl—or remind anybody of Keyshawn Johnson, Al Toon or Wayne Chrebet. I’m not going to get into the different ways all these defensive linemen could possibly match up on the field, but one has to see that with Damon Harrison, Mo Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson, Quinton Coples and now Williams, the Jets enhanced what was already the most formidable part of their team. One has to wonder though, is having too much of a strength a bad thing?
Well, applying an objective lens to the Jets roster will tell you that the Jets came into the draft tonight needing four things, and only three of them are specific positions on the field (hint, the other “thing” needed was talent, and lots of it!) In order of highest need, the Jets required help on the offensive line (guard or tackle), a legitimate edge rusher and a free safety (which the selection of Calvin Prior last year failed to address). Looking at things subjectively now, the Jets have an aging offensive line and too many safeties without coverage range. They also haven’t drafted a true edge rusher since John Abraham at the turn of the century.
What could the Jets have done better in this situation? Answer: Trade down. Has anybody knocked the Patriots for selecting 33 more players than the Jets since the year 2000? Um, no. How about this—Do any of these names ring a bell? Laveranues Coles, Kareem McKenzie, Mo Lewis, Jason Fabini, Demario Davis, Jerricho Cotchery, and Sione Pouha. All were third or fourth rounders, and all were quality Jets.
Ultimately, results will be the true indicator of how well we drafted in later rounds, and how well our “best player available” strategy worked tonight, But I think Jets fans can rest assured that we got the best damn player available, and he’ll be suiting up in the green and white.