Finding elite talent is the New York Jets’ primary goal of the 2022 offseason
No one will deny it: the New York Jets need an infusion of talent.
Despite having a young, ascending roster, it’s undeniable that Robert Saleh’s squad needs more talent. But when we say “talent”, we are not using an open, empty definition of the word – this team needs game-changing talent on both sides of the ball.
Understanding that statement is the first step to building a thoughtful offseason plan – as silly as that sounds.
Many fans tend to overlook it, but free agency comes before the draft, so what happens in free agency dictates how teams approach the draft. All indications are that the Jets will be much more aggressive on the open market than they have been in previous years.
If that’s the case, New York’s draft plans must be perfectly married with their free agency approach.
And that’s where we start answering this article’s main question: What’s the ideal offseason approach for the Jets to help them address their main premise of acquiring elite talent?
Considering (i) this team’s immense need for talent and (ii) the front office’s reported willingness to be aggressive in the open market, I believe the Jets should attack the offseason in a simple, yet effective way: utilizing free agency to address the team’s positional needs while leaving the draft to secure the most talented player possible with every pick (with some common sense added to it, obviously).
This approach is important because it gives Joe Douglas and Co. some freedom when the draft arrives.
Once they secure their floor at most positions of need in March, they can aim for a higher ceiling come draft day.
Take the EDGE position, for instance.
There are a lot of good free agents and a lot of good draft prospects who can play EDGE, a premium spot in this Jets’ defense.
If New York completely neglects the position in free agency, though, they might find themselves in a spot where they need to reach for a player to fill the need in the draft.
On the other hand, if Douglas and Co. are able to get their floor in the open market (Solomon Thomas is one free agent who fits), they will have more flexibility on draft day and will be able to play according to the board.
Thinking like that becomes extra important when you consider the infusion of talent this team needs.
The Jets, right now, basically have one player who can take over a game on offense (Elijah Moore) and I have a hard time finding a guy like that on defense.
Reaching for needs on draft day, considering how desperate for elite talent this team is, would be a bad way to “build through the draft”, one of Douglas and Saleh’s mantras.
Avoiding situations where they need to reach in the draft to fill holes is a must for the Jets this offseason. Using free agency to secure this roster’s floor is the way to ensure that does not happen.
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The Jets need elite talent above all
The Jets’ need for elite talent is why thinking “perfect scheme fit first, talent second” might be trouble right now.
The community of New York Jets fans on Twitter (one of the funniest groups of people on earth) has spent the past few weeks embroiled in deep debates regarding two draft prospects in particular: Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton and USC wide receiver Drake London.
For some, utilizing the Jets’ pair of first-rounders on both would be reaching. In Hamilton’s case, the common criticism is that safety is not a premium position anymore. In London’s case, he supposedly is not a fit for Mike LaFleur‘s offense.
I immensely disagree with both statements. And that’s not saying the Jets should select these guys. I’m just pointing out that Hamilton and London, in the first round, would not be the end of the world.
Starting with Kyle Hamilton, the man would be the biggest playmaker on New York’s defense from day one. If the EDGE board doesn’t go in the Jets’ favor, why reach? Take the blue-chip guy and build around him.
The Jets defense doesn’t have a single player who can take over a game right now – unless Carl Lawson comes back stronger than ever.
For London, the discussion is a bit deeper. While many believe his playing style doesn’t match the Jets scheme, that belief is simply not true.
London is a physical, strong receiver who plays with excellent speed. He is always in full go, releases well, and is physical on top of his routes.
Obviously, he’s not a finesse route runner. But this offense doesn’t need five Elijah Moore clones. London uses his best attribute, his physicality, to create separation. That also works in an offense that loves horizontal routes.
London can play extremely well in the X receiver role that was played by Corey Davis, allowing LaFleur to move Davis inside – which could do wonders for this team’s running game out of 11 personnel. The solutions are plenty – and easy – when the “problem” is talent.
Nonetheless, London and Hamilton – both great players – are just punctual examples.
It’s clear how the Jets should plan their 2022 offseason
The overall plan for the New York Jets’ 2022 offseason is simple. New York should arrange its roster floor in free agency, leaving the draft to be what it’s supposed to be: an immense pool of talent where the team can pick the greatest one available.
Good players build solid teams, but elite talent is what makes championship teams.