As we start to head more heavily into free agency and the draft season, we wanted to start a series of posts that takes a look at the top five position players at each spot.  Ed Valentine had a good idea with his series, so we're stealing a page from his work.  So without further ado, we're going to starting piecing together lists of the top five prospects at each spot based on the Perfectly Coifed One's lists and then adding some consensus data (CBS, Fox, etc.) on round rankings.

Up first, the safeties.

Kenny Vaccaro- Texas - 6'1" 218 lbs (1st Round)

Matt Elam* - Florida - 5'10" 206 lbs (1st - 2nd Round)

Tony Jefferson* - Oklahoma - 5'10" 199 lbs (2nd Round)

Eric Reid* - LSU - 6'2" 208 lbs (2nd Round)

Phillip Thomas - Fresno State - 6'1" 215 lbs (2nd-3rd Round)

Jets Status: The Jets played two new free agent veterans at the spot last year and it was definitely an upgrade from 2011 and 2010.  The wildly athletic LaRon Landry had a Pro Bowl season and Yeremiah Bell was a durable contributor as well for the team.  The Jets drafted two younger players in Josh Bush and Antonio Allen in 2012 and of the two, Bush seemed to find a more natural fit.  Bush is the coverage player, while Allen played a position in college that might approximate well to the "Big Nickel" role for the Jets should the team part ways with Eric Smith.

Analysis:  Free safeties are much more prized than strong safeties in the modern NFL because of the need of safeties to so frequently defend the pass, whether from the safety spot or as an extra cornerback.  For the first time in a few years, the safety class has a promising group of talented players that might go in the first three rounds.  The top talent is Kenny Vaccaro, who played well in spite of the play of the Longhorns' defense. Vaccaro has protypical size and speed and has a penchant to be a playmaker.  Elam is the younger brother of former Jet Abram Elam and is more set to be a strong safety type player.  Elam might not have the prototypical size, but his vision and ability to read a play will make him a desirable player for a team in the NFL.  Jefferson played at OU since his freshman year and was a huge contributor to the defense with 33 starts in his time with the team.  Jefferson might lack some ideal size, but his versatility is his biggest strength.  He can blitz, play the run, or cover very well.  Eric Reid is an interesting prospect and some have said that he's a better player than Mark Barron was in last year's class ... but his biggest problem is his ability to read and diagnose a play.  Because of this, Reid seems to be talked about as a solid second rounder at this point in the draft.  Reid has the right size and can play well in coverage but has a tendency to not wrap up his tackles and to play a little over-aggressive, thereby taking himself out of a play.  The last player, Phillip Thomas has not garnered the national attention he might deserve.  Thomas broke his leg in 2011 which didn't help matters.  Even so, Thomas is considered one of the nation's best playmakers and has a knack for committing turnovers in the air or on the ground.  He's got prototypical size, but he's not as fast and will need to work on his agility to become a player that could stand out in this draft class.  

Keep an Eye On ... : I think the Jets might be too high in the draft to pull the trigger on Vaccaro, and then unless they trade around they might not be in the right spot to land any of the other guys ... assuming Thomas doesn't impress with his Combine numbers, I could see the Jets calling Phillip Thomas's name at the top of the third round.

Tags: NFL Draft, NYJets, Editorial Aside, Brian Bassett

 (Cary Edmondson)
(Cary Edmondson)

Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter

The Jets surprisingly hung around for the better part of three quarters, but eventually the game slipped away from them and the Raiders came away with the anticipated blowout win. Aside from a couple of ill-timed turnovers, the run defense was the biggest issue in yesterday's game.

Let's break down the performances on the defensive side of the ball from the Jets' 45-20 loss to the Raiders in Week 2...

Tags: Buster Skrine, Darron Lee, Demario Davis, Dylan Donahue, Jamal Adams, Jordan Jenkins, Leonard Williams, Marcus Maye, Morris Claiborne, Muhammad Wilkerson, Steve McLendon
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Latest look at the next Jets QB 00:00:44
SNY.tv takes a look at how the top collegiate quarterbacks did on the field last weekend.

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Another loss for the Jets, another step closer to the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 draft.

Of course, even if they don't land the top spot they seem sure to land something in the Top 10, where they'll have a shot at one of the many top college quarterbacks available. Here's a look at some of them, and how their stock has risen or fallen from last week...

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 (Stan Szeto)
(Stan Szeto)

Jets WR Jermaine Kearse notched his first touchdowns with the team in the loss to the Raiders on Sunday. 

Kearse and another Jets newcomer, QB Josh McCown, have found chemistry early this season. McCown found the 27-year-old seven times for 59 yards in the season opener against the Bills. 

Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on TwitterKearse continued his strong start as a Jet by leading them with 64 yards on four catches, including two touchdowns. He showed some veteran smarts with a subtle push-off on the first touchdown and made a tough catch with a defender draped over him for his other score. However, his other three catches -- one of which was negated by a penalty -- were short of the first down marker. >> Read more about the receivers and the Jets' offensive performance in Bent's Game Analysis.

Tags: Jermaine Kearse, Charone Peake, Robby Anderson
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 (Stan Szeto)
(Stan Szeto)

After putting up 38 total yards in their season opener, the Jets' run game saw an increase in production in loss to the Raiders Sunday. 

Veteran RB Matt Forte was the leader of the running back committee after posting a dismal 16 yards on six carries against the Bills last week. He posted 53 yards on nine carries with his longest being a 16-yard gain.

Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter: After a disappointing first game, the Jets had more success with their running game this week, as three backs combined for 95 yards on 21 carries.

Tags: Bilal Powell, Elijah McGuire, Matt Forte
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Sep 17, 2017; Oakland, CA, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Jermaine Kearse (10) catches the ball for a touchdown against Oakland Raiders cornerback David Amerson (29). (Stan Szeto)
Sep 17, 2017; Oakland, CA, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Jermaine Kearse (10) catches the ball for a touchdown against Oakland Raiders cornerback David Amerson (29). (Stan Szeto)

Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter

The Jets surprisingly hung around for the best part of three quarters, but eventually the game slipped away from them and the Raiders came away with the anticipated blowout win. Aside from a couple of ill-timed turnovers, the run defense was the biggest issue in yesterday's game.

However, we're going to break down the performances on the offensive side of the ball first...

Tags: ArDarius Stewart, Ben Ijalana, Brandon Shell, Brent Qvale, Brian Winters, Bryce Petty, Chad Hansen, Charone Peake, Christian Hackenberg, Dakota Dozier, James Carpenter, Jeremy Kerley, Josh McCown, Kelvin Beachum, Robby Anderson, Wesley Johnson, Will Tye
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Sep 17, 2017; Oakland, CA, USA; New York Jets quarterback Josh McCown (15) prepares to throw a pass against the Oakland Raiders in the third quarter at Oakland Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports (Cary Edmondson)
Sep 17, 2017; Oakland, CA, USA; New York Jets quarterback Josh McCown (15) prepares to throw a pass against the Oakland Raiders in the third quarter at Oakland Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports (Cary Edmondson)

Jets QB Josh McCown threw for his first touchdowns as a Jet in the team's 45-20 loss to the Oakland Raiders on Sunday. 

McCown was held without a passing touchdown in the season opener against the Bills, but he made up for it with two in Oakland. However, it wouldn't be enough as the Raiders racked up points in front of their hometown fans. 

Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on TwitterOn paper, McCown had a very good game. He came away with two touchdown passes and a 113.1 quarterback rating and even contributed 31 yards on the ground. However, there were a series of mistakes that are not reflected in his passing numbers...

Tags: Josh McCown
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Sep 17, 2017; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch (24) dances on the sideline as wide receiver Michael Crabtree (15) watches during a break in the action against the New York Jets in the fourth quarter at Oakland Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports (Cary Edmondson)
Sep 17, 2017; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch (24) dances on the sideline as wide receiver Michael Crabtree (15) watches during a break in the action against the New York Jets in the fourth quarter at Oakland Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports (Cary Edmondson)

Jets linebacker Jordan Jenkins was not happy with how Raiders RB Marshawn Lynch danced during Sunday's 45-20 loss to the Oakland Raiders at Oakland Coliseum.

Jenkins, who was upset at the way the Jets lost, didn't like seeing Lynch dancing and celebrating on the sideline after Oakland took a 35-13 lead on Jalen Richard's 52-yard touchdown run.

"I'm an old-school guy," Jenkins said, according to NJ.com's Darryl Slater. "I don't like when things like that happen. That was embarrassing, losing like that, and to have Marshawn dancing like that. Seeing that happen, that should infuriate the whole [Jets] team. It should infuriate everybody. And we should have to have a good response coming into next Sunday." 

Tags: Jordan Jenkins, Oakland Raiders
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Jets Post Game Overtime: 9/17 00:13:52
The Jets Post Game Overtime crew gives out its report cards following the Jets' 45-20 loss to the Oakland Raiders on Sunday.

 

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GEICO SportsNite: Jets 00:03:05
The Football Night in New York crew breaks down the Jets' 45-20 loss to the Oakland Raiders on Sunday.

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

The Jets are not a good football team, so when they have an opportunity -- any opportunity -- they have to take advantage.

That's why what happened at the end of the first half of Sunday's 45-20 loss was so catastrophic to their chances on Sunday in Oakland. Forget the final score. Forget that this game turned into a blowout. And forget all the reasons why the Raiders deserved to win this game big.

Tags: Oakland Raiders
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New York Jets quarterback Bryce Petty during the game against the Oakland Raiders during the second quarter at Oakland Coliseum. (Stan Szeto/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Jets quarterback Bryce Petty during the game against the Oakland Raiders during the second quarter at Oakland Coliseum. (Stan Szeto/USA TODAY Sports)

Bryce Petty will be the New York Jets' No. 2 quarterback for the near future, head coach Todd Bowles said after Sunday's 45-20 loss to the Oakland Raiders at Oakland Coliseum.

Bowles did not initially name a backup quarterback to Josh McCown. Although Petty was listed second on the depth chart prior to the season, he was inactive for New York's Week 1 loss to the Buffalo Bills due to a sprained MCL.

Christian Hackenberg, the Jets' 2016 second-round pick, was listed as inactive for Sunday's game.

Tags: Bryce Petty, Christian Hackenberg, Josh McCown, Oakland Raiders
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Bowles and McCown on 45-20 loss 00:01:56
Jets head coach Todd Bowles and quarterback Josh McCown talk about what went wrong in the team's 45-20 loss to the Oakland Raiders.

Marshawn Lynch ran for a touchdown in his first home game with Oakland and Derek Carr threw three TD passes to Michael Crabtree to lead the Raiders to a 45-20 victory over the New York Jets on Sunday.

Cordarrelle Patterson and Jalen Richard added long touchdown runs to help put the game away and give the Raiders (2-0) wins in the opening two games of the season for the first time since their AFC championship season in 2002.

Josh McCown threw a pair of TD passes to Jermaine Kearse but the Jets (0-2) proved to be no match for the more powerful and talented Raiders. >> Read more

Copyright 2017 by The Associated Press

Tags: Josh McCown, Oakland Raiders
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Bowles on traveling to Oakland 00:01:47
Todd Bowles on the challenge of traveling across the country to face a talented Raiders team, and trying to slow down Marshawn Lynch.

 

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New York Jets quarterback Christian Hackenberg (5) throws a pass against the Tennessee Titans during the third quarter at MetLife Stadium. (Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports)
New York Jets quarterback Christian Hackenberg (5) throws a pass against the Tennessee Titans during the third quarter at MetLife Stadium. (Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports)

Seven Jets players are listed as inactive for the team's Week 2 matchup against the Raiders.

QB Christian Hackenberg, CB Derrick Jones, S Rontez Miles, LB Bruce Carter, OL Jonotthan Harrison, TE Eric Tomlinson, TE Jordan Leggett will not suit up on Sunday, according to the team.

QB Bryce Petty, who missed last week's game, is active and will be the backup behind QB Josh McCown. WR Jeremy Kerley and TE Neal Sterling will also return after missing last week's game.

Dakota Dozier is slated to back up C Wes Johnson in the absence of Harrison, who suffered a concussion during practice this week.

Tags: Christian Hackenberg, Derrick Jones, Jordan Leggett, Rontez Miles
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Jets players to watch on Sunday 00:01:10
The crew from Jets Game Plan discusses its "players to watch" in Sunday's game against the Raiders in Oakland.

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

THE GAME

The Jets (0-1) at the Oakland Raiders (1-0) at the Oakland Alameda Coliseum in Oakland, on Sunday, Sept. 17 at 4:05 p.m. ET.


Coverage on SNY:

Tags: Buster Skrine, Morris Claiborne, Muhammad Wilkerson, Oakland Raiders, Ralph Vacchiano
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Vacchiano's 3 Keys to a Jets win 00:01:09
SNY NFL Insider Ralph Vacchiano discusses his three keys to a Jets' victory vs. the Oakland Raiders in Week 2.

SNY NFL Insider Ralph Vacchiano discusses his three keys to a Jets' victory vs. the Oakland Raiders in Week 2.

 

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New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles, center, looks on after challenging a call during the second half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills, Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun) (Bill Kostroun/AP)
New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles, center, looks on after challenging a call during the second half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills, Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun) (Bill Kostroun/AP)

DL Lawrence Thomas and OLB Freddie Bishop have been signed off the practice squad before Sunday's game against the Raiders. The Jets also waived/injured LB Edmond Robinson, who will revert to injured reserve if he isn't claimed by another organization.

Thomas, who is in his second year out of Michigan State, played only three games last season, including one start. He had six tackles with his best outing coming against the Giants (five tackles).

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GEICO SportsNite: Jamal Adams 00:01:37
Jeane Coakley talks to Jamal Adams about what he and the Jets expect from a potent Raiders offense going into their matchup on Sunday.

 

Tags: Jamal Adams
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Jets LB Darron Lee was fined $9,115 by the league for his unnecessary roughness penalty last Sunday against the Bills, per SNY's Ralph Vacchiano.

Lee dished out a late hit on the Bills' Eric Wood following CB Juston Burris' interception in the end zone. Lee was flagged for unnecessary roughness following the play. 

The sophomore linebacker finished the game with ten total tackles and one pass defended. Last season, he amassed 73 combined tackles and one sack in 13 games played. 

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 (Kyle Terada)
(Kyle Terada)

The Jets have signed LB Freddie Bishop and DL Lawrence Thomas off their practice squad, per NY Post's Brian Costello.

The team also waived/injured LB Edmond Robinson.

With DL Claude Pelon being waived on Thursday, there were two roster spots open to replace. Also, LB Bruce Carter has been ruled out for Sunday's matchup against the Raiders leaving a linebacker spot open for Bishop to fill. 

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TE Eric Tomlinson (elbow), LB Bruce Carter (knee), TE Jordan Leggett (knee), and S Rontez Miles (eye), RB Donovan Robinson, and OL Jonotthan Harrison will not play on Sunday against the Raiders in Oakland, head coach Todd Bowles told reporters on Friday.

WR Jeremy Kerley will be a game-time decision.

Tomlinson and Carter both suffered injuries during the Jets' 21-12 loss to the Bills in their season opener Sunday. 

Tomlinson had two catches for 25 yards on Sunday before suffering the injury. The Jets are hurting at the tight end position with Austin Seferian-Jenkins serving his two-game suspension, and Leggett dealing with an injured knee. Newly acquired Will Tye filled in on Sunday.

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New York Jets offensive tackle Brandon Shell during the second half against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium. (Scott Galvin/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Jets offensive tackle Brandon Shell during the second half against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium. (Scott Galvin/USA TODAY Sports)

Jets right tackle Brandon Shell will make his first visit to Oakland Coliseum on Sunday when New York faces the Raiders, but he won't be the first Shell to play there.

Shell's great uncle, Art Shell, was a Pro Football Hall of Fame left tackle for the Raiders between 1968 and 1982, leading Oakland to two Super Bowls and going to eight Pro Bowls.

"I've seen some tape of [Art Shell] and Gene Upshaw from when they played back in the day," Shell, 25, told the New York Post's Alex Squadron.

Shell will likely have to try to block Raiders defensive end Kahlil Mack, who has emerged as one of the NFL's top defensive players as he has forced seven fumbles and recorded 26 sacks since 2015.

Tags: Brandon Shell, Oakland Raiders
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GEICO SportsNite: Jets defense 00:01:31
Michelle Yu talks to Leonard Williams and Todd Bowles about how they are preparing for their Week 2 matchup against the Raiders on Sunday.

 

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 (Timothy T. Ludwig)
(Timothy T. Ludwig)

Jets S Rontez Miles and OL Jonotthan Harrison will likely be out this week, coach Todd Bowles said on Thursday.

Miles will miss his second straight game with two orbital fractures, while Harrison suffered a concussion during the team's practice on Wednesday.

Bowles is not certain what caused Harrison's concussion, but believes he had contact with another player. "I guess it happened in individual period," Bowles said. "Maybe it hit him the wrong way or his helmet, I don't know. It just happened. I just found out."

Miles played in all 16 of the team's games last season, tallying 31 tackles and starting four games. Harrison signed with the Jets this off-season after spending last season with the Indianapolis Colts. He played in 44 of games and had 23 starts for the Colts.

Tags: Rontez Miles
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Jets players to watch on Sunday 00:01:10
The crew from Jets Game Plan discusses its "players to watch" in Sunday's game against the Raiders in Oakland.

 

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 (Rich Barnes)
(Rich Barnes)

Jets head coach Todd Bowles wants everyone on the team -- including the coaching staff -- to improve moving forward after a 21-12 loss to the Bills in Week 1.

The new-look Jets failed to score a touchdown and QB Josh McCown threw two interceptions. New York struggled on the ground, tallying just 38 yards rushing, and the Jets' offense only had 214 total yards in the game. 

"Stat-wise, we didn't do very well," Bowles said on Thursday. "Individually, it was a guy here or there. It wasn't everybody at the same time, so you can talk up the performances individually - they weren't as bad. But, as a group, we didn't run it well and receivers and tight ends are involved in that as well.

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 (Brad Penner)
(Brad Penner)

The Jets have waived DL Claude Pelon, the team announced Thursday.

A corresponding move was not announced.

Pelon, 24, signed as an undrafted free agent with the Jets after not being selected in the 2016 NFL Draft, and had signed a reserve/future contract this past January.

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 (Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports)
(Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports)

Jets LB Lorenzo Mauldin likely needs season-ending back surgery due to a herniated disk, head coach Todd Bowles said on Thursday.

Mauldin is currently undergoing tests to see if surgery is necessary, Bowles said, according to Calvin Watkins of Newsday.

The 24-year-old Mauldin, the Jets' third-round pick in 2015, was placed on IR after originally making the 53-man roster, meaning the earliest he can return would be Week 9.

With the NFL's new IR rules, Mauldin was eliglble to be one of two players on IR who returns at some point this season.

Tags: Lorenzo Mauldin
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In the latest episode of The Jet Stream, Jonas Schwartz and Willie Colon welcome Mike Westhoff into the studio to discuss the good, bad, and ugly of the Jets' loss to Buffalo. Later, the guys take Twitter questions, and give their predictions to the Jets-Raiders' matchup in Week 2.

Click below to listen!

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GEICO SportsNite: Kearse 00:01:22
Jets wide receiver Jermaine Kearse discusses what it means to be a Jet and what it will take to defeat the Raiders in Oakland on Sunday.

Wide receiver Jermaine Kearse has only been with the Jets for a short while, but he has a strong opinion about one of their AFC opponents' home stadiums. 

The Raiders, which host the Jets in Week 2, play their home games at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. The venue also hosts Oakland A's baseball games, so during the early part of the season, the infield diamond is still present on the field. 

"To be honest, I hate their field," Kearse told the Associated Press on Wednesday. "I can't stand that baseball part of the field."

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GEICO SportsNite: Kearse 00:01:22
Jets wide receiver Jermaine Kearse discusses what it means to be a Jet and what it will take to defeat the Raiders in Oakland on Sunday.

 

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