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2017 NFL Draft New York Jets: Top needs, suggested picks, updates

By
Frank Cooney, NFLDraftScout.com
New York Jets General Manager Mike Maccagnan believes in drafting for the best available player. File photo by John Angelillo/UPI
New York Jets General Manager Mike Maccagnan believes in drafting for the best available player. File photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

This is one in a series that covers each team, offering viewers information for homework, suggestions and then the opportunity to make a draft pick.

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When the NFL Draft begins selections in Philadelphia April 27, the New York Jets have the No. 6 pick in the first round.

Here is an in-depth look at the team's needs, offseason changes, potential best fit and the selections by NFLDraftScout.com's experts.

Who would you pick and why?

TOP 5 NEEDS:

1. Quarterback: Just as it's been for the last 40-something years. General manager Mike Maccagnan's brief track record suggests he'll take a quarterback at some point during the draft, but the guy who could end the Jets' epic search for a franchise signal-caller is more likely to be found in 2018.

2. Offensive line: While the franchise quarterback probably won't be found this year, maybe the Jets can discover one or two guys to protect him. The offensive line is in the midst of a complete overhaul, with only guard James Carpenter remaining from the 2015 season opener. There aren't any can't-miss offensive linemen in the top 10, so general manager Mike Maccagnan could trade down from the No. 6 pick to get his lineman as well as an extra pick.

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3. Cornerback/safety: The Jets used to be loaded at cornerback and empty at safety. Now they're in dire need of help at both positions. If Maccagnan stays at No. 6, he should be able to pick from the likes of cornerback Marshon Lattimore, Marlon Humphrey and Chidobe Awuzie or safeties Jamal Adams and Malik Hooker.

4. Tight end: There is de-emphasizing a position, and then there's what the Jets did with the tight end under former offensive coordinator Chan Gailey. Tight ends caught just 26 passes the last two years. A team with as many needs as the Jets probably can't reach for Alabama tight end O.J. Howard early in the first round, but they will almost surely add a tight end sooner than later.

5. Wide receiver: Brandon Marshall is gone, Eric Decker is closing in on his 30th birthday and coming off hip and shoulder surgeries and Quincy Enunwa looked to be a better jack-of-all-trades than a true No. 1 or No. 2 receiver. There may not be a No. 1 or No. 2 receiver available to the Jets, especially since his skills might be wasted with whomever lines up at quarterback, but it certainly can't hurt Maccagnan to add more depth to a lean position.

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THE PICKS

BEST FIT
Jamal Adams, SS, Louisiana State. The Jets need talent everywhere, but going with secondary help in Adams is a safer bet than rolling the dice on North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, who started just one season with the Tar Heels, or Alabama tight end O.J. Howard, whose impact would be minimized by the league's worst quarterback situation. As an experienced prospect with a well-rounded game, Adams would provide an immediate upgrade on hard-hitting but inconsistent Calvin Pryor while helping to jump-start a long-needed rebuild of the back end of the secondary for the Jets, who have ignored or overlooked safety going back to the Rex Ryan days.

Rob Rang: Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State. Last season only two teams (Cleveland, Detroit) allowed a worse ratio of touchdown passes allowed to interception than the Jets, which surrendered 32 scores and only picked off 10 passes. Given the aggressive nature of defensive-minded head coach Todd Bowles and general manager Mike Maccagnan's trusted best-player-available strategy, it is easy to envision the duo falling in love with Hooker, whose range and ball skills (seven interceptions in 2016) could have the Jets flying much higher in 2017.

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Dane Brugler: Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State. Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan believes in the best-player-available theory and in this scenario, it also matches with a need as Hooker gives New York a ball-hawking deep safety.

Pat Kirwan: O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama. Kirwan worked the phones to get the best tight end in the draft for the Jets, for whom he once worked. Not sure he pulled off such a complex deal while in New York, Kirwan traded the Jets' No. 6 spot for Cleveland's overall Nos. 12, 52 and 65, then sent the No. 12 and a 2018 fourth-round pick to Carolina for that No. 10 position this year. Hello O.J. And, if our official draft abacus is correct, that leaves the Jets with extra picks at Nos. 52 and 65. Hell, they may hire him again.

(Kirwan, Jim Miller picks based on last Friday's mock on SiriusXM Radio. Listen to their next mock Friday, April 21, on SiriusXM NFL Radio channel 88).

Frank Cooney, IMO: While Kirwan's fanciful trade folly was fun, we will stick with the old best player available system because that would be Malik Hooker, an exceptional safety from Ohio State.

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YOUR TURN

OK, it's your turn. Tell us in the comments section who you would pick and why. Check out top 1,000 players rated by NFLDraftScout.com, including combine and pro day workouts, biographies, scouting reports.

Frank Cooney, founder and publisher of The Sports Xchange and NFLDraftScout.com, is in his sixth decade covering football and 25th year on the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee.

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