New York Jets Get Fresh Start in 2013 NFL Draft

The New York Jets entered the 2013 NFL Draft needing to upgrade just about everything but the kitchen sink.

By the end of Day Two, the Jets had picked up a ton of much-needed young talent and depth to the offensive line with the additions of OG Brian Winters in the third round (No. 72 overall), former Virginia OT Oday Aboushi in the fifth round (No. 141 overall) and OG William Campbell out of Michigan in the sixth round (No. 178 overall).

While the team’s first three picks appear to be quite puzzling on the surface—at least for some of the talking heads on television—New York needed to find an immediate starter in the secondary, improve in the trenches on both sides of the ball and look to land a guy who could lead the team and compete for the starting job at quarterback.

The Jets did all of those things, taking the first cornerback, the first 4-3 DT/3-4 DE and the second quarterback off the board in this year’s draft, and yet, the front office continues to face widespread criticism.

It’s important to note that though there’s still a ton of uncertainty and the Jets obviously neglected to address several needs in the draft (see below), this was at minimum a two-year rebuilding process.

Photo Credit: NewYorkJets.com

Photo Credit: NewYorkJets.com

Whoever starts under center—Mark Sanchez, Greg McElroy, David Garrard, Matt Simms or Geno Smith—he’s going to need reliable receivers, not just improved protection at the line of scrimmage.

Santonio Holes, Stephen Hill and Jeremy Kerley may be just as good or better than the group of receivers the team had during the AFC Championship run, but injuries exposed a lack of depth at receiver last year.

Jeremy Kerley had a solid second season with 56 catches for 827 yards and two TDs in 16 games (seven starts) in 2012.  Nevertheless, when he’s by far you’re most productive receiver, you have a real problem.

Tight ends Jeff Cumberland (29 receptions for 359 yards and three scores) and Dustin Keller (28 catches for 317 yards and two touchdowns) finished second and third on the team last season.

Albeit it was easy to envision immense success for last year’s second round pick, we noted last April that Hill would need time to develop before becoming a big-time playmaker at the next level.

That proved true as Hill finished fifth on the team with 21 receptions for 252 yards and three TDs.

Santonio Holmes was next with 20 catches for 272 yards and a score, followed by RB Shonn Greene (19 REC for 151 yards), RB Bilal Powell (17 REC for 140 yards) and WR Clyde Gates (16 REC for 224 yards).

The Jets obviously lost Greene in free agency, but Powell possesses plenty of potential.  Gang Green also traded for Chris Ivory and added fullback Tommy Bohanon out of Wake Forest in the seventh round.

So while this team should have a solid running game in 2013, production from the passing game looks to be limited until the Jets land a premier tight end and wide receiver in next year’s draft.

Until then, maybe their receivers can stay healthy and Hill can start to emerge in his second season.

There are also concenrs about whether Dee Milliner—the team’s top 2013 draft pick—will be ready for the start of the 2013 NFL regular season.  And Sheldon Richardson looks to be undersized and inexperienced to line up at 3-4 defensive end.  But he’s a tremendous talent and the move to take him makes more sense with Quinton Coples reportedly transitioning to 3-4 outside linebacker.

Assuming they’re both healthy, Richardson and Milliner are expected to start from Day One.

With another solid perofmance in next year’s draft—coupled with a significant amount of cap space—and John Idzik may actually have Mike Tannenbaum’s mess cleaned up in record time.

Michael Gartman is a College Football and NFL Senior Writer, the AFC South and NFC West Lead Writer and the Founder, CEO of GridironGrit.com.  He’s also about to start reporting on topics across all sides of the political spectrum and analyze important issues in the liberty movement for a political website.  Follow him @_MichaelGartman on Twitter.  Be sure to ‘like’ Gridiron Grit on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @GridironGrit to keep up with the latest coverage on college football, the NFL and more!

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