Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter
Now that the season is over, the Jets find themselves in a familiar spot with the opportunity to add a difference-maker in the draft. With the standings finalized, the Jets now know that they'll be picking sixth for the third time in the last four years as general manager Mike Maccagnan has been presented with a golden opportunity to find some cornerstone pieces to build a young nucleus.
Priority number one remains the same: The team must find a franchise quarterback. This year's class initially looked like a strong one with USC's Sam Darnold, UCLA's Josh Rosen and Josh Allen of Wyoming headlining the class. Over the course of the season, though, apparent weaknesses for each of the top three prospects' were laid bare.
However, recent indications are that the stock for each remains high while Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield has emerged as another potential high pick to bolster the class even further. Some also believe that last year's Heisman winner, Lamar Jackson, could also be in the mix.
The trouble is, is that there are several teams which are looking to find a franchise quarterback, including most of the teams that are scheduled to pick ahead of the Jets. Of course, there's still time for an unexpected late-riser to establish themselves as a potential high pick. Equally though, some of the current top prospects may yet see a fall in their stock.
With an extra second-round pick in hand due to the Sheldon Richardson trade, the Jets have some draft capital to potentially move up and secure the player they want, although the team will be reluctant to give up too many picks as they seek to continue to add to their young core. Maccagnan had indicated he would not be averse to moving up and that might be essential if they want to ensure they lock up the quarterback who is the best fit.
However, maybe the Jets won't use their first pick on a quarterback after all. They could instead address the position in free agency or via trade. Alternatively, maybe a QB won't prove to be the wisest option at that spot. If the top quarterbacks don't all come out and the price of a possible trade up starts to spiral out of control, the Jets may be forced to consider the possibility of going in another direction.
Maybe they trade down if that happens, but let's consider which direction they could go in if they keep the pick. The expectation would be a best player available approach. That landed them Leonard Williams in a similar situation back in 2015. Jamal Adams proved to be more of a needs-based pick, but the team still claimed he was top of their board too.
With the Jets' current talent levels, there is no obvious position that they'd overlook, although some would be more attractive than others in terms of filling holes or producing an immediate upgrade. Of course, by the time the draft comes around, they'll have filled many of their holes anyway in free agency.
The one exception may be at safety, where the Jets seem to be set for the next few years after using their top two picks on Adams and Marcus Maye last season. Two potential high picks - FSU's Derwin James and Alabama's Minkah Fitzpatrick - are listed as safeties. However, you can't completely rule either of them out because Bowles likes to employ versatile players in his secondary and might relish the opportunity to operate with even more flexibility than he already does. For example, Fitzpatrick could perhaps be used primarily at corner and having James could allow the Jets to play without a nickel corner or with one less linebacker in sub-packages.
The Jets definitely need help on the offensive line and there's potential value there at or around the No. 6 pick. Connor Williams from Texas looks on film to be the most NFL-ready tackle, despite having missed time through injuries. Notre Dame's Quenton Nelson might be even better, but he's a guard and they typically go later than the top tackles. While some have Orlando Brown ranked highly, he's still a bit raw technically and might not warrant such an early pick.
An edge rusher (Bradley Chubb?), wide receiver (Courtland Sutton?) or running back (Saquon Barkley?) could also be the top ranked player once we get to that stage of the draft.
With the Senior Bowl and Scouting Combine yet to come, it seems certain the Jets will have some talented options if they don't have their heart set completely on ensuring they land that quarterback - or if they find another way to address the position.