As miserable as the Jets' 5-11 season was, their consolation prize isn't bad. They stand to get a heck of a player with the sixth overall pick in the 2017 draft -- perhaps a franchise-changing player, and maybe someone who can contribute right away.
That's no guarantee, of course, but it's a positive to focus on for a team that needs a lot of help in a lot of different areas. Maybe -- just maybe -- they could end up with the franchise quarterback they've been seeking for far too many years.
It's early, of course -- very early -- and a lot can change during free agency. But here's a look at five players the Jets might have their eyes on in the first round of the NFL draft, which takes place on April 27. SNY will be taking a weekly look at this board and charting who is rising and falling throughout the combine and Pro Day season, and as the Jets' potential needs change:
1. CB Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State - He sits atop the list of top corners in the draft based mostly on potential since the 6-1, 192 pounder played only one full season as a starter for the Buckeyes. He's had a history of hamstring injuries, which could be worrisome. But his athletic skills, coverage ability and speed have scouts drooling. Yeah, the Jets need a quarterback but the consensus seems to be that this draft isn't loaded with top-of-the-draft players at that position, which makes it unlikely one will drop to No. 6. In that case, the Jets' biggest need will be fixing their problematic secondary and replacing (presumably) Darrelle Revis.
2. QB Mitch Trubisky, North Carolina - For the moment he's considered the top quarterback in a weak class, though be warned: There are often wild changes in the quarterback rankings during the combine/Pro Day season. Scouts do seem to like his ability to stand strong in the pocket and his good arm. Like many college quarterbacks he rarely operated under center. He has consistency issues, too. But the intangibles, including size (6-3, 220) seem to be there. The reports that the Jets were in love with him were overstated. They certainly are taking a good look at him, though.
3. RB Leonard Fournette, LSU - He was a dangerous and dominant runner, especially when healthy (he battled an ankle injury for most of last season) and he's considered to be as good as any running back that's come out of college since Adrian Peterson. Considering Todd Gurley and Ezekiel Elliott are under that umbrella, that's high praise. At 6-1, 235 with linebacker strength he could have an immediate impact in the NFL (and take a lot of pressure off a green quarterback). Yeah, the Jets have two running backs already, but Matt Forte is 31 (and cut-able) and the underused Bilal Powell is a part-time back who had a career-high 722 rushing yards last season. Powell is a heck of a receiver, though, making a potential duo with him and Fournette an interesting future 1-2 punch.
4. WR Mike Williams, Clemson - There seems to be no doubt that this 6-3, 225-pounder is the best receiver in the draft. The only question is: How good is he? He's got the size and the hands and strength to be a good one, and Clemson has a history of producing excellent NFL receivers (including DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins). There is some worry about the fractured neck he suffered in 2015, but he certainly seemed to be all the way back from that last season. The knock on him is that he lacks elite speed and isn't quite big enough to hide that in the NFL. A good showing at his workouts could vault him into the Top 10 of the draft, though receivers tend to slide so he might not be worth a shot at No. 6.
5. CB Marlon Humphrey, Alabama - He's as physically gifted as Lattimore and about the same size (6-1, 196), though maybe not as ready to make an immediate impact. His potential alone could rocket him up the draft charts especially if he nails the combine and Pro Day. There are some worries about him getting lost trying to find the ball on deep passes, which could make him very vulnerable in the NFL. But he's strong and fast and has all the tools to bolster the Jets' young secondary. Maybe right now this looks like a bit of a reach at six. But good corners are hard to find, so he might be Top 10 before long.