Over the past month, we've been reviewing some of the top draft prospects at each position to assess some potential candidates that the Jets will show interest in. We conclude today with a look at the 2019 edge defender class.
Jets Needs: Edge Defenders
The Jets have lacked a consistently productive edge rusher for many years but 2019 looks like being the year where they finally address that. They've been linked with several players in free agency and could also select a blue-chip prospect in the draft.
The Jets used several players on the edge last season with Jordan Jenkins, who tied for the team lead with seven sacks, and Brandon Copeland, who added five, making the most impact. Copeland is out of contract, as is Josh Martin - who was listed as a starter coming out of camp - and midseason pick-up Jeremiah Attaochu.
Youngsters Tarell Basham and Frankie Luvu are under contract for 2019, so could compete for a rotational role, while Leonard Williams and Henry Anderson - if he returns - could also play on the edge in certain packages.
2019 Draft: Edge Defenders
One or even both of the top pass rushers could fall to the Jets, who hold the third pick in this year's draft. Ohio State's Nick Bosa and Kentucky's Josh Allen are both considered possibilities.
Bosa is widely regarded as the best defensive player in the draft and demonstrates tremendous technique that should enable him to be an impact contributor right off the bat. However, if Bosa is gone - or if the Jets are scared off by durability concerns or the potential for a holdout - they might turn their attention to Allen. Allen doesn't have Bosa's tool-box of pass rushing moves, but his explosiveness off the edge could bring a dimension that the Jets' defense has lacked since Herm Edwards was coach.
The other option being widely discussed with that third pick is to trade down. If the Jets do this, it's unlikely Allen or Bosa will still be available, even if they only move back a few spots. However, they might still target an edge with their first pick. Many people have suggested Michigan's Rashan Gary is the next best available edge defender, despite the fact he mostly played inside last year. That perhaps explains his worryingly low production, but he's still considered more of an athlete because there's some rawness to his game.
Clelin Ferrell from Clemson, Brian Burns from Florida State and Montez Sweat from Mississippi State have all also been discussed as possible first-round picks.
Sweat's stock is on the rise after he had an outstanding combine, but Burns has been more productive and allayed some concerns over his weight by posting solid combine numbers at 250 pounds rather than his listed playing weight of 235. Ferrell, on the other hand, was underwhelming at the combine, but was a productive player in college who has good technique and a high floor.
The Jets don't have a second-round pick but could acquire one in a trade-down scenario. Otherwise, they might be hoping some of the projected second-rounders drop to the third round. These include Jaylon Ferguson, the NCAA's all-time sack leader from Louisiana Tech, Jachai Polite, a projected first rounder whose stock is falling due to a bad combine performance and Michigan's Chase Winovich, whom many experts seem to have been underrating.
There are a few players who probably wouldn't be viable options at outside linebacker but could contribute as a strongside end. Boston College's Zach Allen, TCU's LJ Collier and Charles Omenihu from Texas fall into this category. There could be value here as some teams won't view them as good scheme fits. Allen also has a knack for batting down passes and blocking kicks.
Players who could interest the Jets if they fall to the mid-rounds include Alabama's Christian Miller, TCU's Ben Banogu and Iowa's Anthony Nelson. All three performed well at the combine, although Nelson's poor bench press may hurt his stock.
Finally, late round sleepers could include Oklahoma State's Jordan Brailford, a versatile and athletic defender and Sutton Smith from Northern Illinois, an undersized player who was extremely productive last season but would be limited to a situational role at the pro level.
Even if they manage to pick up one of the top free agent pass rushers, the Jets might still be reluctant to pass on Bosa or Allen with the third pick. However, if they decide to trade down instead, they could still show interest in one of the possible first rounders. It's hard to imagine a situation where the Jets don't come out of this draft with at least one edge defender that they'll hope will become a core contributor over the next few seasons.