Quarterback and edge rusher are the Jets’ most glaring needs. But let’s not forget about the other roster spots that need addressing in Thursday’s NFL Draft, mainly offensive line and tight end.
The Jets have replaced ironman left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson with oft-injured Ryan Clady, but at some point they need to consider an upgrade at the right tackle spot, currently manned by Breno Giacomini.
Ferguson’s retirement this month was a stark reminder of the age and productivity issues plaguing the Jets’ offensive line. Nick Mangold, drafted the same year as Ferguson (2006), still is one of the best centers in the NFL, but he’s also 32. There also are questions surrounding Giacomini and guard Brian Winters’ long-term future with the team.
Clady, a former first-round pick and four-time Pro Bowler, turns 30 on Sept. 6. He also comes with durability issues after suffering a Lisfranc foot injury in 2013 and a torn ACL last offseason.
“He’s good to go,” general manager Mike Maccagnan said Friday during his pre-draft news conference. “I think, from a medical standpoint, he’s cleared to play. I think he was actually cleared earlier for full participation, back in January or December, according to the information I got from the Broncos.”
The Jets plan to be cautious with Clady. “We’re just taking our time with him, just to make sure,” Maccagnan said. “But he’s on schedule and fine for all that [rehab] stuff. It’s probably more us going slow with him.”
The other glaring area of need is tight end. The position was a non-factor during Chan Gailey’s first season as offensive coordinator.
The Jets parted ways with Jeff Cumberland this offseason after he caught five passes for 77 yards and no touchdowns. Cumberland, who signed with San Diego, had 86 catches for 1,119 yards and 10 touchdowns in six seasons.
Former second-round pick Jace Amaro has yet to prove himself. After catching 38 passes for 345 yards and two touchdowns as a rookie, he missed the entire 2015 season with a shoulder injury. In addition to Amaro, the Jets have tight ends Zach Sudfeld, Kellen Davis, Wes Saxton, Brandon Bostick and Adrien Robinson on their roster.
New kids on the block
The Jets haven’t drafted an offensive lineman in the first round since 2006 when they selected D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold. Will this be the year they go O-line in Round 1? Will general manager Mike Maccagnan find a new tight end on Day 2? Here are some options at those positions for the Jets during the NFL Draft:
Taylor Decker, OT
The 2015 Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year is projected to be a right tackle in the NFL. Great run-blocker but needs some work in pass protection.
Jack Conklin, OT
Has solid technique and brings versatility to the offensive line, where he could be used at either tackle or guard.
Germain Ifedi, G
Athletic and versatile, Ifedi has great length and the skills to be a force in the rushing attack. But overreliance on his athleticism results in him straying from his technique.
Hunter Henry, TE
Named the John Mackey Award winner as the nation’s top tight end, Henry is the most complete player at the position. And in a draft class that’s not very deep at tight end, he’s sure to be first off the board.
Austin Hooper, TE
Physical, versatile player with the ability to help in the run game. He played only two seasons for the Cardinal, but he has the size, athleticism and hands to be a weapon.