Jets draft preview: Running back

April, 30, 2014
Apr 30
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This is the third installment in a position-by-position analysis of the New York Jets as they prepare for the draft:

Position: Running back

Current personnel: Chris Johnson (signed through 2015), Chris Ivory (2015), Bilal Powell (2014), Mike Goodson (2015), Alex Green (2014), Tommy Bohanon (2016).

Projected starters: Johnson, Bohanon (fullback).

Newcomers: Johnson.

Departures: None.

Top cap charge: Johnson, $2.75 million.

Scouting report: The Johnson signing sent a loud message: The rest of the league might be pass happy, but Rex Ryan has no intention of straying from his Ground & Pound roots. The Ivory-Powell tandem helped the Jets to a No. 6 ranking last season in rushing offense, but they felt compelled to acquire Johnson because he provides a different dimension -- speed. With his burst and ability to get outside, he's still capable of stretching a defense horizontally, making the running game less predictable. Johnson will complement the bruising Ivory and could be featured in the passing game. Despite a strong finish, Ivory failed to eliminate the durability questions that have followed him his entire career. Goodson, recovering from ACL surgery and still facing charges from last year's arrest, could be a goner if they draft a back.

The last RB drafted: The Jets drafted Bohanon last year in the seventh round and he ended up playing 35 percent of the offensive snaps (more than Ivory, by the way).

Potential targets: Unless they're covering their tracks, the Jets haven't showed much interest in running backs. It would be a surprise if they picked one before the fourth round, but they should take one at some point, with an eye toward 2015. Considering the offseason emphasis on improving the team speed, one player to watch is the diminutive Dri Archer (Kent State), who made a name for himself by running the 40 in a combine-best 4.26 seconds. The Jets have expressed interest in this Darren Sproles-like talent, who can catch passes and return kicks. The anti-Archer is Andre Williams (Boston College), a 230-pound bruiser and Heisman Trophy finalist. He, too, has piqued the Jets' interest. Undersized Ladarius Perkins, a shade under 5-8, is a late-round sleeper possibility.

Need rating (scale of 1 to 10): 5

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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