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Over the next month or so, we're going to review some of the top draft prospects at each position to assess some potential candidates in whom the Jets may show interest. We continue with a look at the 2019 running back class.
Jets needs: Running backs
Whether or not the Jets will draft a running back in 2019 will heavily depend on how free agency plays out. The Jets are widely expected to be in the mix for Le'Veon Bell, and if they end up signing him, the running back position is unlikely to be a priority. Some pundits have suggested the Jets could target a less expensive back like Tevin Coleman instead.
While pending free agent Bilal Powell might not return and last year's leading rusher Isaiah Crowell is a potential cap casualty, youngsters Elijah McGuire and Trenton Cannon still have upside and could serve as complementary backs. There could be room for another developmental project, though.
If the Jets miss out on the top running backs in free agency, they could pivot to spending that money elsewhere. In that scenario, they would fill other holes which might mean that drafting a running back makes more sense.
2019 Draft: Running backs
The 2019 class isn't particularly strong or deep, with no prospect on Saquon Barkley's level coming out this year. However, there may be several players who improve their stock with a strong combine performance.
Many experts consider the duo from Alabama -- Josh Jacobs and Damien Harris -- to be the top two backs in this year's class. The athletic Jacobs, who has some versatility, could be a first-round pick, even though some might consider him a one-year wonder. Harris is less flashy but a dependable pro-style back who could go on Day 2.
If the Jets are still in the market for a running back, then their first realistic shot at one -- barring a draft-day trade -- will be in the third round. If Devin Singletary from FAU or David Montgomery from Iowa State drops to them, they could be potential considerations. The elusive Singletary rushed for 22 touchdowns in 2018, while Montgomery broke or avoided more tackles than anyone else in the nation, according to Pro Football Focus.
Other potential Day 2 picks include Kentucky's Benny Snell, Georgia's Elijah Holyfield and Darrell Henderson from Memphis. Snell is a big back with plenty of experience of staying in to pass protect. He also has a connection to the Jets, as his uncle is Super Bowl III hero Matt Snell. Holyfield also has a famous relative: His father is boxing great Evander Holyfield. Henderson averaged almost nine yards per carry in 2018 and has shown some abilities to be a downfield threat in the passing game. Penn State's Miles Sanders is also considered a possible Day 2 pick, but his five fumbles last season might put some teams off.
On Day 3, the Jets will be looking for value, and there are several candidates that could interest them.
Trayveon Williams from Texas A&M had a breakout year in 2018, recording over 2,000 yards from scrimmage and 19 touchdowns. He has also returned some kicks and has experience as a pass protector. By contrast, Washington's Myles Gaskin has been one of the most consistently productive backs in the nation over the past four seasons, rushing for between 1,268 and 1,380 yards each year. Gaskin had 24 touchdowns last season.
Other attributes that could interest a team like the Jets are Justice Hill's athleticism, Tony Pollard's versatility and Devine Ozigbo's size. Hill from Oklahoma State was a standout at the recent All-Star Football Challenge. Pollard was a teammate of Henderson's at Memphis, who also contributed as a slot receiver. Ozigbo's athletic ability and ability to generate yards after contact at Nebraska was also impressive.
Speaking of potential bargains, someone is likely to take a flyer on Stanford's Bryce Love despite the fact he tore his ACL in December. He had an underwhelming 2018 season having previously been considered a potential top-50 pick. However, players like Frank Gore have proven valuable in similar situations in the past.
Finally, there aren't many draftable fullbacks this year, but that's unlikely to concern the Jets, as Adam Gase's offense doesn't employ one very often. Wisconsin's Alec Ingold is the pick of this year's class.
The Jets have some flexibility at the running back position in terms of whom they decide to bring back from last year's team and whom they target in free agency. It seems likely they will have filled this need before the draft, but they could still see value in a late-round selection that has some potential and fits their system.