It’s been an interesting offseason for the Jets as they lost their stalwart left tackle to retirement just a few days ago, and still have yet to resolve that pesky quarterback situation.
Those are glaring needs leading up to the April 28 draft. But with former All-Pro left tackle Ryan Clady being sent over from Denver, via trade, and the extra cap space that the D’Brickashaw Ferguson retirement created, the Jets may finally have the cash to up the ante on bringing back quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.
General manager Mike Maccagnan has the 20th overall pick, and like his Giants counterpart Jerry Reese, he’s inclined to select the best available player – like he did last year when he added Leonard Williams to an already formidable defensive line.
Metro takes a look at the likely prospects that Gang Green will have to choose from at No. 20.
1. Darron Lee, outside linebacker, Ohio State: Head coach Todd Bowles needs to replenish his front seven, particularly the pass rush, and with a hybrid like Lee, the coach would put the Buckeye to good use. Former Notre Dame star linebacker Jaylon Smith would’ve been a great fit, but he’s still rehabbing from an ACL injury that he suffered in his January bowl game. When healthy, Smith would’ve been a slam-dunk top-10 pick, but with the knee issue, he will very likely still be there at No. 20. The temptation is intoxicating, but the Jets need an immediate player. In steps Lee, who is fast, athletic, and at 218 pounds, can also be used as a rover/safety. He won’t take on blocks like a true linebacker, and rarely played in the box at Ohio State, but with his speed and instincts he won’t have to do so as much. His time spent playing some rover/safety in obvious passing downs would serve him well in nickel packages. His good coverage skills and comfort in the open field would be a great fit for what Bowles needs out of his edge performers.
2. Reggie Ragland, inside linebacker, Alabama: The Jets haven’t really had great inside linebacker play lately, as David Harris is starting to regress. Veteran Erin Henderson is currently the other inside linebacker – now that Demario Davis has migrated to Cleveland -- but Raglan would be an instant plug-and-play at the position alongside Harris. Maccagnan would quickly hand in Ragland’s card if he’s still available and Lee is already off the board.
3. Leonard Floyd, outside linebacker, Georgia: There’s a theme in this draft for the Jets, as many think the Fitzpatrick deal will get done sooner rather than later now that the Ferguson retirement cleared up some cap space. Sure, the Jets could still select a passer like Paxton Lynch, but even if Lynch is still there, he could be seen as yet another project, because like Bryce Petty, his college system wasn’t conducive to helping him instantly play in an NFL system. Lynch would take a year or two to get acclimated, while Floyd would an instant contributor. The rangy Floyd can do a little bit of everything at linebacker, which means Bowles and Co. can be creative in using the former Bulldog.