The Jets' anemic offense was an issue throughout 2012. But nevertheless, NFL draft guru Mel Kiper believes the Jets will be eyeing an outside linebacker in the first round.
Kiper -- who said the Jets "pretty much" have to target top talent because they have “so many needs” to address -- mentioned Oregon OLB Dion Jordan, LSU DE Barkevious Mingo and Georgia ILB Alec Ogletree as possible picks.
Kiper said Jordan could be “an ideal edge rusher as a 3-4 OLB. He can be a combo guy, you can use him up and down. He had a great finish two years ago through the season. I think he had six sacks late in the year. He wasn’t as dominant this year but teams knew he was the guy you had to identify and handle. But he has enormous upside potential.
“Barkevious Mingo from LSU is in that similar category. Didn’t play as dominant football this year as he did last year, but he’s got an awful lot of ability. So if he’s there – that wasn’t expected going into the season that Mingo would still be around when the Jets pick at 9, or when the ninth team’s up. But he probably will be, so those would be some guys.
“And a versatile kid who can pretty much figure in a lot of ways, because of his range, his coverage ability, a kid name Alec Ogletree from Georgia. So I think there’s going to be one of those guys sitting there for the Jets and at that point in the draft, it’s going to be very hard for them to pass one of those linebacker-types up.”
It’s possible the Jets – a cash-strapped team that has several soon-to-be free agents on the roster – may decide to trade down from No. 9 in order to stockpile draft picks.
Kiper said he’s all for that, presuming a targeted player isn’t ripe for the picking at No. 9.
“I think trading down is always something that’s attractive to me, if you can,” he said in a national conference call Wednesday. “…If there’s a guy you target, and he’s there and that’s who you feel like, ‘OK, we’re lucky and fortunate to see him get to us at 9,’ then you’re not trading down. If there’s nobody that you’re excited, or there’s three or four players kind of bunched together that you need, you trade down (because) you know you’re going to get one of those three or four. So that’s all dependant upon how the draft unfolds and we’re still way too early to speculate on that until after the combine and pro days.”
While some mock drafts have the Jets taking an offensive player in the first round (like Tennesee WR Cordarrelle Patterson or Alabama G Chance Warmack), Kiper still thinks the Jets should focus on their defensive front seven in the first round.
(Note: NFL.com’s draft guru Gil Brandt has the Jets selecting Georgia OLB Jarvis Jones in his mock draft).
The Jets haven’t drafted an offensive player in the first round since quarterback Mark Sanchez in 2009 (5th overall). Since then, they’ve selected Kyle Wilson (29th), Muhammad Wilkerson (30th) and Quinton Coples (16th) in the first round.
Asked about potential quarterbacks the Jets could target in the second or third rounds, Kiper mentioned Zac Dysert from Miami (OH), Duke's Sean Renfree and Southern Utah’s Brad Sorensen.
Kiper seemed particularly high on Renfree.
"I like the fact that this kid has size, I like his arm," he said. "I like the fact that he was with david Cutcliffe for five years. Cutcliffe tutored Eli and Peyton Manning. He’s kind of a quarterback guru and to have Cutcliffe around Renfree for that amount of time; he took them to a Bowl game for the first time since 1994.”