This 2013 NFL Draft is a pivotal turning point for the New York Jets. The team faces massive issues at multiple positions across the board and desperately needs to bolster a roster recently devastated by free agency.
New general manager John Idzik has adopted a steady approach to reconstructing a team just two seasons removed from consecutive AFC title game appearances. The Jets remain void of a legitimate, playmaking threat on offense, while their formerly formidable defense has been entirely dismantled, pending a seemingly inevitable trade involving star cornerback Darrelle Revis.
The remnants of a could-be championship team are household names that the fanbase has grown weary of.
Mark Sanchez still stands a solid opportunity to reclaim his role as starting quarterback this season despite committing an astounding 52 turnovers over the past two seasons. Former stud wideout Santonio Holmes is destined to become a ghost of himself in 2013 and overpaid linebacker David Harris has underachieved on a ghastly level, despite recording decent numbers on the stat sheet last season.
This offseason is a symbolic transitional phase for the Jets, regardless of the has-been talent currently consuming the roster. The Jets' first selection in the impending draft will be iconic in that he will represent the foundation of a supposed new beginning for the green and white.
So, who should the Jets select with the ninth overall pick on April 25?
The general consensus is that the team will pick a pass-rusher to complement the developing tandem of Muhammad Wilkerson and Quinton Coples. It's a safe bet, considering a massive void at outside linebacker, although the Jets also need help at quarterback and safety.
Most football experts consider this season's crop of QB talent to be sub-par at best, causing some to question if it would be wise for the Jets to make such a selection, given prominent needs across the depth chart.
The Jets also have a whopping figure already allocated toward that position. The four quarterbacks chalked on the team's depth chart combine for a total cap hit of $17,111,288, according to Spotrac.com.
That figure could be reason enough to deter Idzik from pulling the trigger on a new so-called "face of the franchise."
The players most frequently linked to Jets, in accordance with various mock drafts and analyses, are LSU DE Barkevious Mingo, Oregon DE Dion Jordan and Georgia OLB Jarvis Jones. Each player is expected to adopt an edge-rushing role at the next level, although each player also showcases a distinctly different style of gameplay.
Mingo is arguably the most intriguing player of the trio. He recorded just 4.5 sacks in his final collegiate season and is considered to be undersized for his position at 6'4'' and 241 pounds. Still, Mingo is an explosive pass-rusher that sustains superior speed, clocking a 4.58-second 40 time in the annual scouting combine. He has an enormous wing span, which is thought to be pivotal in determining the potential of an edge-rushing prospect.
It's unknown if Mingo can effectively transform into an every-down OLB in Ryan's 3-4 base, but his potential is difficult to ignore.
There's a distinct likelihood that Jordan will be off the board by the time the Jets hit the clock. But it's not an impossibility, especially considering possible concern over injury.
Jordan checks-in at 6'6'' and 248 pounds. He's explosive, like Mingo, clocking a 1.56-second 10-yard split at the combine, which was the fastest among defensive linemen. Jordan showcased determination and grit in his senior season, playing through severe shoulder pain. He racked up 44 tackles and 10.5 tackles-for-loss in spite of his lingering injury.
Jordan is a dynamic player, featuring above average pass-coverage abilities for his size, and is arguably an ideal fit for Ryan's 3-4 base.
Jones doesn't feature the caliber of athleticism that Jordan and Mingo possess, but he constantly flashed an impressive level of productivity in the highly touted SEC, demonstrated by his numbers on the stat sheet.
Jones led the nation with 24.5 tackles-for-loss, 14.5 sacks and seven forced fumbles in his junior season. He's a relentless playmaker on defense, shunning doctors who said he couldn't play because of a supposed case of spinal stenosis.
All three players have the potential to be devastating pass-rushers capable of changing the complexion of the Jets' depleted defense.
The player that best fits Ryan's 3-4 base defense might not be the player that Jets' fans want to see in uniform, though.
West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith is a flashy, star-studded player capable of immediately gripping the fanbase. Smith likely isn't a solid fit for the Jets' new-look West Coast offense, but his numbers are hard to ignore. He threw for 4,205 yards, 42 touchdowns and just six interceptions in his senior season. He features game-changing, big-play ability—which was consistently on display in 2012.
The Jets would be hard-pressed to pass on Smith if he drops to ninth overall, regardless of big money already allocated to quarterbacks currently slotted on the depth chart.
So, who do New York Jets fans want in the first round?
It remains unknown which route the Jets will take as draft day steadily approaches.