Commentary

Jets can pick up first 'W' at NFL draft

GM John Idzik looks to reverse Jets' negative momentum with ninth and 13th picks

Updated: April 25, 2013, 9:43 PM ET
By Rich Cimini | ESPNNewYork.com

Finally, it's get-back time for the New York Jets.

After two months of losing players and credibility, the rebuilding starts in earnest Thursday night with the first round of the NFL draft.

This could be a watershed moment for the Jets, who -- let's be frank -- have been in free fall since walking off the field 27 months ago in Pittsburgh after losing the AFC Championship Game.

[+] EnlargeDion Jordan
Jim Z. Rider/USA TODAY SportsDion Jordan brings the noise against opposing teams, and the Jets need a playmaker on defense.

They willingly absorbed another big hit last weekend, when they traded Darrelle Revis to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This franchise needs to start winning something - anything -- and they get that chance with the ninth and 13th picks.

New general manager. New vision. New Jets.

By midnight, we'll know a lot more about John Idzik and his plan. He showed spine by refusing to cave to Revis, a diva superstar who tried to hold the franchise hostage with his outlandish contract demands. Now we'll see if Idzik has the scouting acumen to replenish the roster.

"I don't think the players the Jets draft at nine or 13 will be as good as Revis, but they should come away with two good players," said an opposing personnel executive, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

The Jets own three of the first 39 selections, so they should emerge with three significant contributors. Idzik is looking to trade down with the hope of acquiring extra picks, something his predecessor, Mike Tannenbaum, never did in the first round.

Tannenbaum was an aggressive, outside-the-box executive who traded up three times in the first round, most notably in 2007 (Revis) and 2009 (Mark Sanchez). From all indications, Idzik will be the anti-Tannenbaum, taking a conservative approach.

That philosophy will be tested by how he handles the quarterback need. The Jets have been loosely linked to three potential first-round quarterbacks -- Geno Smith, Ryan Nassib and EJ Manuel -- but people who know Idzik say they'd be surprised if he takes the plunge.

This isn't a vintage quarterback class, so the smart play would be to build around the current group of signal callers and worry about the position next year.

Idzik's entire game plan revolves around 2014. He replaced many of the departed veterans with low-cost alternatives, increasing the likelihood of acquiring compensatory picks in the '14 draft. Add in the conditional pick from the Revis trade, and they could have 11 or 12 draft choices next year.

For now, one of the objectives is to improve the team speed, a point of emphasis in draft meetings. Players with freakish speed will be strong considerations -- pass rushers Dion Jordan and Barkevious Mingo and slot receiver Tavon Austin.

The Jets desperately need playmakers -- players who score touchdowns, players who instill fear in the opposition and players who sack the quarterback.

Ideally, they'd like to marry need with value. It wouldn't be sexy, but they need a guard and will consider Chance Warmack and Jonathan Cooper.

They need a safety, desperately, and will consider Kenny Vaccaro at 13.

They need a tight end, and could go with Tyler Eifert.

This is a big night for the Jets, who get a chance to change the momentum. There haven't been too many feel-good moments over the last couple of years.

A good draft can pump life into an organization. It did in 2000, when the Jets got hammered for trading Keyshawn Johnson but lifted the mood with four first-round picks. It did in 2006, when D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold walked in as Day 1 starters.

The Jets need another one of those days.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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