NFL Draft: Who are the Jets targeting?
The Jets could select a player at nearly any position in the upcoming NFL Draft and fill a need, making this a crucial three days as the franchise retools. There are plenty of needs for a team that has finished a combined 14-18 the past two seasons and hasn’t made the playoffs since 2010.
Currently, the Jets hold three picks in the Top 40 — No. 9, No. 13 and in the second round at No. 39.
Pressing needs include outside linebacker, guard and safety but don’t be surprised if the Jets use all eight of their current picks on players who instantly crack the two-deep on the 53-man roster. There’s also a strong possibility the Jets trade back in the draft, with a likely suitor being the 49ers, who hold the No. 31 pick in the first round and also the No. 33 pick, which translates to the top selection in the second round.
Here is a look at the players that are likely high on the Jets draft board:
Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia — Perhaps the best true playmaker in the draft, Austin boasts 4.28-second 40-yard speed and the ability to be shifty in the open field. He has skills but it is hard to tell how his numbers and game film out of West Virginia’s wide-open “Air Raid” offense translates to Sundays. Plus, the Jets biggest need isn’t at wide receiver.
Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina — Likely the best guard in the draft, Cooper is an athletic and nimble big man, even at 6-foot-2 and 311 pounds. General manager John Idzik attended his Pro Day in March and had to walk away impressed.
Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama — Lacy’s low center of gravity and bruising running style fits a between-the-tackles runner. He doesn’t possess elite speed but does have decent hands, a positive in the Jets’ new West Coast offense.
Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU — Mingo, a popular pick to go at No. 9, would give the Jets a bona fide pass rusher to help supplement a group of linebackers missing two starters from last year. But Mingo has never played at linebacker, making even the most optimistic of Jets fans think of the Vernon Gholston debacle of several years ago.
Kenny Vaccaro , S, Texas — The Jets have a need in the back end having lost LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell to free agency and cutting veteran safety Eric Smith. Vaccaro has the length the Jets like and can also cover the slot. He could be an intriguing pick.
Other names to keep in mind: T.J. Barnes, DT, Georgia Tech; Zac Dysert, QB, Miami (OH); Marquise Goodwin, WR, Texas; Mark Harrison, WR, Rutgers; Margus Hunt, DE, SMU; Kyler Reed, FB, Nebraska; Blidi Wreh-Wilson, CB, Connecticut
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.