- Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer
After using their past five first-round picks on defensive players, including three linemen, the 8-8 Jets will look hard at offense with the 18th pick. Specifically, they need playmakers, wide receivers and a tight end, to energize a passing attack that finished 31st in the league. The best receiver is Clemson's Sammy Watkins, but he probably won't fall to 18. More realistic targets are USC's Marqise Lee and Texas A&M's Mike Evans. North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron also would fill a need.
There will be a lot of speculation about the possibility of drafting a quarterback. The Jets fueled the talk by refusing to commit to Geno Smith as their starter. That said, they still like his potential, and it's hard to imagine them picking a quarterback at 18 after using a second-round pick last year on Smith. They invested a full year in Smith, and they were encouraged by his strong finish. Nevertheless, it can't be ruled out, especially if a highly graded quarterback unexpectedly tumbles to them. Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel would be hard to pass up.
The Jets' other draft priorities will be dictated by free agency. If they lose right tackle Austin Howard and outside linebacker Calvin Pace, they will be in the market for those positions. There are a handful of tackles expected to be selected in the first round, so they could easily replace Howard if they want to go in that direction. Pace's spot would be harder to fill in the first round, and you'd certainly have to question the wisdom of investing another high pick in a front-seven player. Other lesser needs are safety, cornerback and guard.
Check out Mel Kiper’s Mock Draft 1.0 to see which players he thinks the Jets should target with their first pick.
479dTodd McShay, Steve Muench and Kevin Weidl