The future stars of the NFL are almost here. The first round of the 2013 Draft kicks off on April 25, and every team will look to build for both present and future. This is the ninth in a two-a-day, 30-part series that looks at each team and which potential first-round picks would be a good fit.
PICK NO. 9: JETS
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2012 record: 6-10
Key offseason acquisitions:
David Garrard, quarterback
Mike Goodson, running back
Antwan Barnes, linebacker
Willie Colon, guard
Antonio Garay, defensive tackle
Dawan Landry, safety
Lex Hilliard, fullback
Key offseason departures:
Shonn Greene, running back
Matt Slauson, guard
Brandon Moore, guard
Dustin Keller, tight end
Mike DeVito, defensive end
Sione Po'uha, defensive tackle
Bart Scott, linebacker
Calvin Pace, linebacker
LaRon Landry, safety
Yeremiah Bell, safety
Eric Smith, safety
Biggest holes in roster: Linebacker, guard, wide receiver, tight end, quarterback, running back
It's no secret that the Jets are in total rebuilding mode. That much was certain after they let a good portion of their starters go during free agency. The Jets cannot afford to whiff on any of their draft picks this season.
Of course, their rebuilding phase would be accelerated if they ship unhappy star cornerback Darrelle Revis elsewhere (Tampa Bay is the most likely destination, per multiple reports) for a package that includes another first-rounder.
But let's assume for now that draft day comes, and Revis is still a Jet. They could use the ninth overall pick to bolster their defense in an effort to keep Revis around after this season, or they could use it to help rebuild their offense. Neither option is a wrong one.
BYU's Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah is the most intriguing option at this spot, provided he's still available. A hybrid DE/OLB, Ansah started only one season, but it was a good one - 62 tackles (including 13 for a loss), 4 1/2 sacks, an interception and a forced fumble. He clocked a 4.63 40-yard dash at the Combine, so he has the kind of speed needed off the edge.
If the Jets do draft Ansah, they'd probably use him mainly at outside linebacker since he has a history of stamina issues and because they already have two former first-round picks at defensive end - Muhammad Wilkerson (2011) and Quinton Coples (2012).
If Ansah is gone by this point, the Jets could try LSU's Barkevious Mingo. Aside from having a really awesome first name, there's a lot to like about Mingo. He is a speedy end/linebacker hybrid whose 4.58 40-yard dash speed should translate into the ability to get to the opposing quarterback. He has a little more experience than Ansah -- 119 tackles and 15 sacks in 40 career games -- and projects as a better linebacker than defensive end at the next level.
The Jets lost both starting safeties to free agency and cut their key backup. They inked ex-Jaguars safety Dawan Landry but could continue to rebuild their defensive backfield with Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro. The 6-foot Vaccaro has drawn comparisons to Chargers All-Pro safety Eric Weddle. Vaccaro is a jack-of-all-trades - he can play run support, he can cover a tight end or a slot receiver one-on-one, he can blitz. He does need to work on his deep-ball coverage skills, but generally speaking he would be a nice pickup.
If the Jets want a run-stuffer up the middle to replace Po'uha, they could benefit with Utah nose tackle Star Lotulelei -- a 6-2, 318-pounder who bench pressed 225 pounds 38 times at his Pro Day. He's a big, imposing threat up the middle not unlike Haloti Ngata of the Baltimore Ravens. There were some concerns about his heart - his actual, beating heart, not his commitment - that kept him out of the Combine, but those concerns have since addressed.
As much as Rex Ryan loves the defensive side of the ball, he can't neglect the offense. So it would not be a shock if they decide to draft someone to help out Mark Sanchez and David Garrard.
Alabama's Chance Warmack and North Carolina's Jonathan Cooper are two guard prospects that could both step in and become longtime starters on the Jets' line. Both are good, well-rounded guards, but Warmack is the better run-blocker of the two, while Cooper is more athletic.
It would help if the Jets picked up another playmaker to complement Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill. West Virginia's Tavon Austin might be that guy. The 5-8 Austin did it all with the Mountaineers last season, racking up 1,932 yards from scrimmage, 978 return yards and 17 total TDs. He's a Percy Harvin-esque player who can be a true weapon anywhere he lines up.