- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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This week the AFC East blog will look at each division team and examine the biggest needs entering free agency and the draft. On Tuesday we start with the New York Jets, who finished 8-8 last season.
No. 1 need: Safety
Analysis: The Jets are hurting badly at safety. Opponents found the weakness in New York's defense last season by avoiding corners Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie and attacking the middle of the field. The Jets allowed several big games by tight ends last season. Starting safety Jim Leonhard is coming off a season-ending knee injury and is a free agent. He probably won't find a job until he's 100 percent again, which could be several months down the line. The other starter, Eric Smith, struggled mightily in 2011. The Jets need upgrades at both safety spots, making it doubly tough to fill this position. Look for New York to address this need in both the draft and free agency. Fortunately for New York, there are plenty of good safeties entering free agency this year.
No. 2 need: Right tackle
Analysis: The Jets surprised many by guaranteeing Wayne Hunter’s contract for 2012, but that doesn't guarantee he will be a starter. Hunter was very inconsistent last season, and the Jets need help at right tackle to give quarterback Mark Sanchez enough time in the pocket. Hunter was better in a backup role than as a full-time starter. Perhaps getting help at right tackle would upgrade the starting position and help Hunter, who would be in a more comfortable role.
No. 3 need: Receiver
Analysis: With starting receiver Plaxico Burress about to hit free agency and unlikely to return, the Jets need to find another starting-caliber receiver for their 25th-ranked offense. Jeremy Kerley (a 2011 draft pick) showed flashes last season. He caught 29 passes for 314 yards and one touchdown. But Kerley may not be ready for a starting role. The Jets could use a big and fast receiver via the draft or free agency to pair with Santonio Holmes.
That is our list. But feel free to let the AFC East blog know what you think New York's biggest need is by voting in our SportsNation poll.
1hField Yates and Rich Cimini