As we move toward the 2018 NFL Draft, the New York Jets sit with the sixth overall selection. Defensive end and outside linebacker have haunted this franchise for years. What can they do about it?
Entering the offseason everyone that follows the New York Jets knows that finding a quarterback is the most important aspect of what they need to accomplish. Whether it is through the draft or free agency, who will stand behind center is the main area of interest for this franchise.
However, there is another position that the Jets have tried to build around for years and keep missing the mark. Ever since the days of the sack exchange, the Jets have lacked a consistent game-breaking pass rusher.
As destructive and unreliable as Mark Gastineau was at times in his personal life, his exploits on the field were legendary. Jets fans at both Shea Stadium and the Meadowlands will never forget his unquenchable desire to sack the quarterback. If Gastineau had his head on straight, who knows the sack numbers he could have put up.
Looking at the current Jets, defensive end/outside linebacker is a position that once again needs desperate need for attention. In the passing-dominated game of today’s NFL, that position, along with having strong defensive backs, is essential.
Much like at defensive back, you would think, after looking at past drafts that the Jets were set at defensive end. Going back to Vernon Gholston in 2008, the Jets have drafted a defensive lineman or a linebacker six times. Out of that group, only Darron Lee and Leonard Williams are projected to be on the 2018 roster.
Muhammad Wilkerson was a player the Jets counted on to be that difference maker. Drafted out of Temple in 2011, Wilkerson was good enough to warrant a big contract in the 2016 offseason. However, consistency and off the field issues led to his recent release.
Looking at the draft, Bradley Chubb from North Carolina State projects to be a stud, however, he might not be there when the Jets draft at number six, where the Jets lucked out and got Williams and Jamal Adams in 2015 and 2017, respectively. Can they get lucky again?
Marcus Davenport from UTSA is another promising edge passer rusher that has green and white fans dreaming of someone to chase down Tom Brady. However, the questions always remain about what can be relied on and what can be another fairy tale failure like past selections at that position.
Arden Key, much like J.C. Jackson at Maryland, is someone who has physical skills and talent that make coaches and scouts drool. However, his off the field issues are enough to cause concerns at a position the Jets can’t afford to miss again.
Later in the draft, someone like Sam Hubbard of Ohio State is a player the Jets could target. However, he has issues with consistency. No matter where you look, the Jets faithful are forever reminded of the risk that goes along with potential.
As far as free agency, DeMarcus Lawrence is a player the Jets can target. Lawrence has talent that could enshrine him in Canton one day, but injury concerns keep him a player that is risky. However, at age 26 he could blossom.
Trent Murphy and Alex Okafor are other players the Jets can target as well, but both are coming off injuries that make them major question marks. However, talent wise they could turn out to be minimal risk rewards for the Jets.
Either way, the Jets journey to discover a legitimate pass rusher is something that will haunt this franchise until it happens.
Hopefully, Mike Maccagnan and staff can hit the mark this offseason.