2017 NFL Draft

Projecting the draft: New York Jets

Projecting the draft: New York Jets

By Dane Brugler | NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst
After back-to-back AFC Championship Game appearances, the Jets had a disappointing 2011 season, finishing just 8-8 and attracting some unwanted attention in the process. But the Jets have stayed in the headlines since the end of the season, mostly because of a rich contract extensive given to Mark Sanchez and a trade that landed the sport's most polarizing player in New York, Tim Tebow.

The quarterback position aside, the Jets have stayed relatively quiet regarding their roster changes so it's fair to assume General Manager Mike Tannenbaum and his staff will be active on draft day. New York needs to get stronger in several areas on both sides of the ball. On offense, a receiver opposite Santonio Holmes to fill the shoes of Plaxico Burress should be a target in the early rounds. Regardless of who is throwing the ball, the Jets need to add more weapons on the outside. On defense, the Jets haven't been able to find that impact pass rusher in the draft since Rex Ryan took over as head coach.

Here are five players the Jets might target on draft weekend:

WR Michael Floyd, Notre Dame (NFLDraftScout.com ranking: 10)
Sitting at pick 16, the Jets will have to wait and see if either Michael Floyd or Justin Blackmon falls to them, and there is a good chance Michael Floyd does. He looks the part and would present a large, athletic target for Mark Sanchez with the skill-set to be a true No. 1 WR. Floyd isn't a track star and gets a bit mechanical with his movements, but he looks like a man amongst boys at times and can be an unstoppable force. He has some character concerns, but he showed up in the best shape of his life as a senior last year and appears football focused. Floyd can be a nightmare in single coverage and has a high pro ceiling with the gifts to be as good as he wants. Floyd would also be an ideal compliment to Santonio Holmes and would be one of the early favorites for rookie of the year honors.

T/G Kelechi Osemele, Iowa State (NFLDraftScout.com ranking: 63)
With Wayne Hunter a liability at right tackle, the Jets could use a versatile blocker like Kelechi Osemele, who is similar Michael Oher as a prospect. He passes the eye test physically and is talented enough to start early in his pro career, but he will probably have some growing pains, despite being a four-year starter in college. Osemele has a gifted skill-set with the natural strength and quickness to the next level. However he can be a frustrating prospect at times because he doesn't always play at the high level he is capable of. Osemele can also move inside at guard and is at his best in the run game when he eliminates defenders and drives linemen out of the play.

ILB James-Michael Johnson, Nevada (NFLDraftScout.com ranking: 151)
With veteran Bart Scott's best years behind him, the Jets should look to add inside linebacker depth through the draft. James-Michael Johnson, who gets his first name from his parents Jamesetta and Michael, has a strong college résumé as a four-year starter and two-time team captain, finishing with 295 career tackles. He moves fast and is a quick downhill player, but isn't nearly as effective in reverse or when asked to hold up on an island in man coverage. Johnson needs to get stronger in order to stack and shed better at the point of attack, but is a high energy, competitive player with a coachable attitude. He has solid tools and should be a late third or early fourth round pick, possibly to the Jets.

S Phillip Thomas, Syracuse (NFLDraftScout.com ranking: 198)
Watching Syracuse this past season, the player that jumped out the most on film wasn't Chandler Jones the defensive end, but rather S Phillip Thomas. He was extremely productive in college, showing playmaking skills and effective range to do damage against the run and in the deep half of the field. Thomas' coachability and character is a red flag after he was suspended for a year for violating a team rule, which is a red flag because coaches would only give out such a stiff penalty for a serious mistake. Thomas is the biggest or strongest and needs to refine his cover technique, but he plays with excellent instincts and football speed. He has NFL starting potential, but his character creates some concerns. The Jets signed LaRon Landry in the offseason, but he is viewed as a short-term answer and Thomas would help give New York depth at both safety and corner.

DE/LB Kyle Wilber, Wake Forest (NFLDraftScout.com ranking: 116)
If the Jets wish to improve on defense, they need to add a pass rusher at some point in this draft, even if it's in the later rounds. Kyle Wilber played with his hand on the ground at DE before moving to OLB when Wake Forest transitioned to a 3-4 formation in 2010. He has 36 career collegiate starts, but is still a bit raw and possesses tweener traits. Wilber is a hard-nosed, throwback defender with very good toughness and a nasty attitude. He has some natural pass rush ability with the length, natural bend and first step quickness to win off the edge. Wilber still needs to get stronger and add some muscle to his frame in order to match up better at the NFL level, especially against the run. He is a hybrid rusher with upside and would be a very good value in the mid rounds for the Jets.
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