INDIANAPOLIS -- The Jets are sitting in a power position as the NFL Scouting Combine begins this week. They hold the sixth overall pick in the draft, which all-but guarantees they will get one of the two best players at whatever position they choose. It also means they'll almost certainly get some immediate help with that pick.
They sure could use that after a miserable 5-11 season that has sent them into full rebuilding mode. They likely won't settle on their pick this week, but they'll need to get some clarity and perhaps narrow their choices, because the NFL free-agent signing period begins as soon as they get home.
And they have some work to do on that front, too.
So, with both Jets coach Todd Bowles and GM Mike Maccagnan set to speak to the media on Wednesday, here are five questions they are going to be trying to answer this week:
1. Are any quarterbacks worthy of the No. 6 pick?
The answer around the league seems to be a resounding "No." But again, opinions on quarterbacks often change rapidly through the combine and Pro Day period, and all it takes is one or two desperate teams to create a rush at the top of the draft.
Are the Jets desperate? That depends on what they feel about their options in the free agent market. If they really are interested in Mike Glennon or maybe Jay Cutler, or perhaps they have some other option up their sleeve, they might go straight to the March 9 spending spree.
If they're on the fence at all, though, about what's available in free agency they'll want to take a long, hard look at North Carolina's Mitch Trubisky, Notre Dame's DeShone Kizer, and maybe even DeShaun Watson of Clemson. Few think any of them are Top 10 picks, and those that do think only Trubisky fits that bill. Nobody seems to think any of them are ready to step in and start next season, either.
Regardless, there's no more important position, and the Jets are going to have to make a decision quickly.
2. What are they going to do with their starting receivers, and if they keep them do they have enough cap room for free agency?
It's hard to imagine the Jets will keep a 32-year-old Brandon Marshall with a $7.5 million price tag and a 29-year-old Eric Decker with an $8.75 million price tag and coming off two surgeries. That's more than $16 million in cap space devoted to two players who likely aren't their old selves.
So the Jets have a choice: Keep them, or dump them? And if they keep them, they need to restructure them to create some salary cap space in the next week or so. They currently have about $18-20 million in cap room and can clear another $9.3 million by cutting Darrelle Revis. So is $27-30 million enough for them, considering they need a quarterback and many, many other things?
Also, if they cut Decker and/or Marshall they better be sure the young receivers on their roster that they love so much are the real deal, otherwise they'll have to look for one in the early rounds of the draft.
3. Is there any serious trade interest in DT Sheldon Richardson?
They're not going to trade him at the combine. If that happens, it likely won't be until much closer to the draft. But with every GM and coach and NFL executive in closer quarters for a week there'll be plenty of time to see if anyone really is interested in making a deal. They obviously need to let teams know he's available before they start their free agent shopping, and they can lay the groundwork for future talks about a package of picks in this year's draft.
4. Are there any offensive tackles worth drafting at No. 6?
Many NFL people see this as a bad class of offensive linemen in terms of depth and of talent at the top. It's not that there aren't a few potentially good ones, but at the moment there's no consensus on one or two that are certain to be stars.
The Jets, of course, have a desperate need at that position after getting rid of both their tackles - Ryan Clady and Breno Giacomini - and with Ben Ijalana due to be an unrestricted free agent. They could bring him back and they do have Brandon Shell, who filled in nicely at right tackle last season. But they really could use an anchor left tackle who'll be part of their program for years.
It just doesn't seem like there's one there. The general consensus is the best tackles are Wisconsin's Ryan Ramczyk, Alabama's Cam Robinson and Utah's Garrett Boles. Ramczyk's star seems to be rising and he might be the only one that squeezes into the Top 10, but right now nobody thinks he's worthy of going sixth.
5. What's the better value at the top of the draft - cornerback or safety?
The Jets' secondary was a disaster last year and with Revis gone and safety Calvin Pryor heading into the last year of his contract, the Jets have an obvious need at both positions. And there are a lot of them in the current Top 5 or 6 of most mock drafts - like Ohio State corner Marshon Lattimore, LSU safety Jamal Adams, and maybe even Ohio State safety Malik Hooker.
They could get a real good player at either of those positions at No. 6, and while they certainly don't have to make up their mind until late April, it would certainly help them to have a sense of which group they like better when the free-agent spending spree begins.