Despite using all 12 of their draft picks last year, the Jets still have a host of roster needs to fill heading into the 2015 season.
Following a 4-12 finish and four straight years without a playoff appearance, the organization has no choice but to hit on the No. 6 pick in the first round April 30. And this week’s NFL scouting combine will help the Jets develop a clearer picture of the draft landscape.
The biggest question lies at their most important position — quarterback. Geno Smith, their second-round pick in 2013, was handed the job as a rookie following Mark Sanchez’s season-ending shoulder injury in Week 3 of the preseason. And despite the organization’s mantra of "competition at every position," Smith was handed the starting job in 2014 without the benefit of a true open competition with veteran Michael Vick.
Former general manager John Idzik wanted to see his draft pick succeed. But instead, Smith’s erratic play cost the Jets a lot of games over the past two seasons. And now the fate of the former West Virginia star is in the hands of a new regime that has no ties to him — new GM Mike Maccagnan and head coach Todd Bowles.
When it comes to this year’s draft class, it’s a two-man race featuring Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota. And the QB draft pickings are slim after those two. Many expect Winston, the Florida State sensation, to go No. 1 overall to the Tampa Bay Bucs, but teams also are high on Mariota.
With that said, there isn’t a clear consensus on either signal-caller.
"There is really no franchise quarterback in this draft," ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. said on a December conference call. "Even though Mariota could go No. 1, he’s not Andrew Luck. He’s not in that elite-of-elite category."
Since then, Kiper has moved up Winston to No. 1 on his draft board and has Mariota going to the Jets in his latest mock draft.
NFL Network’s Mike Mayock also has Winston atop his leaderboard because he believes the Florida State QB projects better in the NFL. As for Mariota, Mayock said: "I love him off the field and all of the individual components on the field work. He’s fast, he’s going to run 4.5 to 4.6, he has a big arm, athletic, great feet.
"But because of the spread offense run by Oregon, we don’t know if he can put all of those individual components together and play as a pocket quarterback in the NFL. He reminds me a little bit of Colin Kaepernick, who ran his 40 at 4.63 in the combine."
It’s unclear, however, if Mariota will throw during the combine because of a sprained AC joint in his right throwing shoulder.
Quarterback isn’t the Jets’ only glaring area of need, though. They have to target a playmaking wide receiver, make an upgrade at cornerback and add depth to their offensive line. Some of the receiver options in the draft include: Alabama’s Amari Cooper, Kevin White of West Virginia, Missouri’s Dorial Green-Beckham, DeVante Parker of Louisville and Michigan’s Devin Funchess.
As for available cornerbacks, Washington’s Marcus Peters, Trae Waynes of Michigan State and Wake Forest’s Kevin Johnson lead the pack. Iowa’s Brandon Scherff and Texas A&M’s Cedric Ogbuehi are two offensive linemen the Jets may want to take a look at this week.
2015 NFL SCOUTING COMBINE
More than 300 prospects will participate in this year’s combine in their quest to achieve their NFL dreams. The event will be held from Feb. 17-23, and NFL Network, NFL.com, NFL Now and NFL Mobile will each provide extensive coverage of the event.
Schedule of on-field workouts
Friday: Specialists, offensive linemen, tight ends
Saturday: Quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers
Feb. 22: Defensive linemen, linebackers
Feb. 23: Defensive backs