The New York Jets seem to draft a first round defensive lineman every year. With two elite pass rushers available, could we see another?
This week, ESNY looks at the defensive line prospects that will be available to the New York Jets during the 2017 NFL Draft. Defensive linemen have long been coveted by the defensive-minded Jets’ head coaches during the Woody Johnson tenure of ownership.
The Jets have drafted a defensive lineman in the first round of the draft four times since 2011, with the most recent being Pro Bowler Leonard Williams in 2015. Williams was regarded as the best player in the draft when he fell to Gang Green with the number six selection.
While Williams is off to a stellar start to what could be an outstanding career, the drafting of linemen has been boom or bust. If you want to see a Jets fan cringe, drop names like Vernon Gholston and Dewayne Robertson. But the last few years have produced some good ones.
Muhammed Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson, Leonard Williams and Quinton Coples each made immediate impacts in their rookie seasons. Coples was moved to linebacker after the Jets had selected Richardson in 2013 and last played with the Los Angeles Rams.
Wilkerson and Richardson were criticized throughout the season for being detriments in the locker room. With the reports that they continually showed up late and the past sins of Richardson, the front office may have no choice but to move on from a member of the “Sons of Anarchy.”
This year’s draft offers a deep selection of defensive linemen, with the possibility of three or four being selected within the first 10 picks. The Jets, who fall within the top ten may reap the benefits of one of the top two falling to them.