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NFL Draft: Who the Jets may look at to fill areas of need

Clemson's Clelin Ferrell tackles Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa

Clemson's Clelin Ferrell tackles Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa on fourth down during the fourth quarter in the College Football Playoff National Championship on Jan. 7, 2019. Photo Credit: Getty Images/Lachlan Cunningham

The Jets have their quarterback of the future in Sam Darnold. They have a pair of young safeties in Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye. They have a solid defensive lineman in Leonard Williams.

But they'll need a lot more to become a true playoff contender next season.

The Jets have nearly $100 million in cap space. They also have the No. 3 overall pick. As of now, they don’t have a second-round pick – they sent it to Indianapolis last offseason in their move up for Darnold – but they do have two third-rounders, so they could find some value on the draft’s second day as well.

Here’s a look at the Jets’ biggest needs this offseason, and some potential fits in the draft on both Day 1 and Day 2:

Running back

There is no Saquon Barkley, Ezekiel Elliott or Todd Gurley in this class, no standout runner who merits top-10 consideration. But there could be an Alvin Kamara, or a Tarik Cohen — a later-round guy who could become an immediate starter in the right situation.

The Jets do have a young tailback in Elijah McGuire, who impressed when thrust into the starting job late in the season due to injuries. However, new head coach Adam Gase tends to use a committee approach at running back —  he listed Frank Gore and Kenyan Drake as "co-starters" in Miami's backfield last season, and he has had multiple running backs record 100 or more carries in five of his six seasons as an offensive coordinator or head coach.

If they decide to add a running mate for McGuire, here are some potential options:

Josh Jacobs, Alabama (Day 2): Jacobs was part of a three-headed rushing attack at Alabama, but he became the Crimson Tide’s workhorse late in the season and runs with a good mix of patience and power.

David Montgomery, Iowa State (Day 2): Montgomery led the FBS in broken tackles in back-to-back seasons, according to Pro Football Focus. He also has good hands (71 catches in three seasons), which makes him a good fit for today’s pass-happy offensive schemes.

Rodney Anderson, Oklahoma (Day 2):  If healthy, Anderson has plenty of talent. He had 1,442 scrimmage yards and 18 touchdowns and averaged seven yards from scrimmage per play during a breakout 2017 season. But that “if” is a big one – he suffered three season-ending injuries in four seasons (a broken leg in September 2015, a fractured neck vertebra in the spring of 2016 and torn ACL in September 2018).

Wide receiver

This year's class has plenty of talented receivers. That could bode quite well for the Jets, who need to give Darnold some more targets. Quincy Enunwa was signed to a four-year extension, and Robby Anderson's chemistry with Darnold grew late in the year, but a true No. 1 receiver would go a long way in accelerating Darnold's development.

Some receivers who could be a good fit for the Jets:

N’Keal Harry, Arizona State: Harry is a big red-zone target with the size (6-4, 216 pounds) and physicality to come down with contested catches.

D.K. Metcalf, Ole Miss: Metcalf missed nearly half of his redshirt sophomore season with a neck injury, but he has the height-weight-speed combination that teams look for in a playmaker.

Riley Ridley, Georgia (Day 2): Ridley, the younger brother of Falcons first-rounder Calvin Ridley, is a raw talent with size (6-2, 200 pounds) and agility.

Offensive line

Another way to help Darnold's growth: give him a strong offensive line. The Jets need upgrades at virtually every spot along the offensive line. This class has a few pretty good blockers. Here are a few:

Jonah Williams, Alabama: Williams has experience at both tackle spots and is athletic for a 6-5, 301-pounder.

Greg Little, Ole Miss: Little has prototypical left-tackle size at 6-6 and 325 pounds, but he’s raw and still needs some fine-tuning, particularly in pass-blocking.

David Edwards, Wisconsin (Day 2): Edwards went from high school option quarterback to tight end recruit to stalwart right tackle, and it shows in the way he moves. He’s a very powerful run-blocker who helped open up massive lanes for Badgers star Jonathan Taylor.

Defensive line

Nose tackle Steve McLendon and defensive end Henry Anderson are free agents. If they both leave, the Jets could dip into a deep class of defensive linemen to replace them. 

Some names to watch include:

Quinnen Williams, Alabama: Williams burst onto the scene in 2018 and emerged as a potential top-three pick. He’s powerful against the run and can shed double- and triple-teams with ease.

Ed Oliver, Houston: Oliver is in the mold of Aaron Donald as a defensive tackle, excelling as an interior pass-rusher thanks to his disruptive hands and quickness off the snap.

Gerald Willis III, Miami (Day 2): Willis didn’t reach his full potential until his senior season because of some off-field issues early in his college career, but he emerged as a force in 2018 both as a pass-rusher (four sacks) and run-stopper (18 tackles for loss).

Edge rusher

This is probably the Jets' biggest need. They had only two players with more than five sacks in 2018, and none with more than seven.

This class is incredibly deep in pass-rushers. Nick Bosa — the younger brother of Chargers Pro Bowler Joey Bosa — is the top edge rusher in this class, but there's a very good chance he gets drafted by either Arizona at No. 1 or San Francisco at No. 2. Here are some other options:

Josh Allen, Kentucky: Allen has improved each year at Kentucky and has great speed around the edge.

Clelin Ferrell, Clemson: Ferrell could have been a first-rounder last year but opted to stay in school. It paid off as he had a career-high 11 1/2 sacks. The 6-4, 265-pounder has good length and athleticism on the edge.

Oshane Ximines, Old Dominion (Day 2): Ximines comes from a smaller school, so he’ll face a jump in the level of competition, but he has an advanced array of pass-rush moves.

Cornerback

Morris Claiborne and Buster Skrine are pending free agents. Even if one or both of them return, they'll need to bolster a secondary that was ninth-worst in the NFL in passing yards allowed per game (254.1) and seventh-worst in yards per completion (11.9).

Some cornerbacks that could be good fits:

Greedy Williams, LSU: Williams is a fit for both man and zone defenses. He has excellent ball skills, making eight interceptions and breaking up 20 passes in two seasons.

Byron Murphy, Washington: Murphy doesn’t have ideal size at 5-11, 182 pounds, but he has excellent technique and instincts and can track the ball very well in the air.

Rock Ya-Sin, Temple (Day 2): Ya-Sin only played FBS football for one season (he transferred from Presbyterian after their football program dropped down to Division II), but he has the size (6-2, 190 pounds) to contribute on the outside.

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