After an offseason with several key free agent signings, the Jets have flexibility with their 12 picks in next week’s NFL Draft. What they do with those picks, including No. 18 overall, is a mystery.
Before the Jets left for the offseason, head coach Rex Ryan spoke to the media about adding playmakers to the team. They lived up to that promise with the biggest moves of the offseason coming on the offensive side of the ball. Wide receiver Eric Decker and running back Chris Johnson add some sizzle to last year’s bland offense.
The consensus among draft prognosticators is the Jets will go wide receiver with their first-round pick. But true to form, general manager John Idzik and the personnel department remained tight-lipped during Wednesday’s annual pre-draft press conference.
“I wouldn’t say it is safe to say anything at this point,” Idzik said. “We’re going to take the draft one pick at a time and take the best player available.”
Since 2009, the Jets have gone defense with each of their first-round picks, including cornerback Dee Milliner and defensive end Sheldon Richardson with the No. 9 and No. 13 picks last season. Even with the supposed pressing needs on the offensive side of the ball, the better top-end talent in the middle part of the draft this year is likely on defense.
The last time the Jets selected an offensive player in the first round was in 2009 when they traded up to take Mark Sanchez at No. 5 overall. This past March, the Jets released Sanchez after he was signed to a contract extension following the 2011 season.
A wide receiver could be had with one of the Jets’ later picks in the draft, especially since they hold five selections in the first four rounds. But a playmaker on defense might be as necessary with the loss of Antonio Cromartie despite being unconventional.
The Jets have brought in Darqueze Dennard, Kyle Fuller and Justin Gilbert — all likely first-round picks and the draft’s top cornerbacks — in for visits last week.
“I think this is a good draft for a lot of positions. I think we probably have more draftable players on our board than we have in a few years,” said Terry Bradway, senior personnel executive with the Jets. “With 12 picks, I think that’s going to be pretty good but I would say overall, I like the depth at [cornerback] as well as others.”
The Jets have more picks in this year’s draft than any other team, giving them flexibility to trade up, move back or perhaps reload with even more young talent. They received four compensatory selections for their free agent losses and also added the No. 104 selection, the fourth pick in the fourth round, in last year’s trade of Darrelle Revis.
But the focus will be on the No. 18 pick and adding an immediate starter.
“We feel that if we stay at 18, we’ll have the ability to select a good player,” Bradway said. “Someone who can come in and help us win. That’s about it for that one.”
Jets notes …
»In year’s past, the Jets have had minicamp two weeks after the draft, but Idzik announced minicamp has been moved up to just a week after the draft.
»In the lead-up to the draft, the Jets visited 263 school, wrote 1,372 player reports, 3,500 player evaluations, conducted 635 individual interviews and visited 115 Pro Days and 120 college games. Bradway added, “But the numbers don’t tell the whole story.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.