We are now 13 days away from the scouting combine to take place in Indianapolis, so before that day comes we are going to look at the Jets biggest needs for the 2016 NFL Draft. Last year, first year general manager Mike Maccagnan did a very nice job with filling in the holes that the team needed with the signing of Revis, Cromartie, Skrine, Marshall, and the resigning of David Harris. But this year is going to be very tough for the second year GM. Going into this year the jets are going to be $15 million under the cap this year and with Wilkerson and Harrison going to be pending free agents, look for Maccagnan to focus on resigning those two key players.
The Jets are looking to go younger and faster at the linebacker position since they will let pending free agents Demario Davis and Calvin Pace go they will need to fill that void. Calvin Pace who is 35 is coming to the end of his career and Davis having a unproductive season, the Jets have no interest in resigning them before the March 9th deadline. Only one player from that starting linebacker position that is set to return is David Harris.
The Jets have interest in resigning inside linebacker Erin Henderson, that won't preclude them from addressing the position with the number 20 pick. One player that comes to mind that the Jets will look at is Alabama linebacker Reggie Ragland. ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. Says that he will go to the Jets with the 20th overall pick. Ragland a 6-foot-1 and 259 pound linebacker would be a good pick for the Jets. He is projected as an inside player in the jets 3-4 scheme—a downhill thumper. He could replace Davis at the inside-weak slot, and maybe eventually take over Harris at the middle linebacker position.
The Jets also need an outside pass rusher. Rookie Lorenzo Mauldin was used as a situational pass rusher later on in the year and did a fairly good job there. They also signed ex-CFL standout Freddie Bishop to a two year contract. Bishop is a 6-foot-3, 255 pound outside linebacker who recorded 11 sacks last season for the Calgary Stampeders. He was an undrafted out of Western Michigan and didn't make it as rookie free agent with the Detroit Lions. Three players come to mind that would be an exceptional fit for the Jets:
Noah Spence Eastern Kentucky- He had a very impressive year with 13.5 sacks and impressed at the senior bowl. However, he has a checkered background with off the field issues. He was tossed by Ohio State after flunking multiple drug tests, so he would be a risky pick for the Jets, but his talent unquestionable is very good.
Shaq Lawson, Clemson- He is a defensive end at Clemson, but some people fear his size is a big issue. At 6-foot-3, 270 pounds, some people fear that he won't be able to stand up in a 3-4 defense. He had 12.5 sacks this season as a full-time starter.
Leonard Floyd, Georgia- He is a very good player, but needs to bulk up if he wants to be an every-down defender in a 3-4. At 6-foot-4, 231 pounds he is very stocking and needs to build up some muscle before he plays a down in the NFL. He's a natural pass rusher with 17 sacks over three seasons. He's got a very nice first step and can penetrate a gap fast.
Over the past 7 years the New York Jets have picked a defensive player in every draft. So one more is not going to hurt anyone, especially when we have a very deep draft filled with outstanding pass rushers and linebackers.