Jet’s Run Game Needs Afterburner-Running Back Should be on New York Jets Draft Radar
If numbers tell a story, it’s that the Jets have no big play ability at the Running Back position. After finishing 1st (2009) and 4th(2010) in rushing yards per game the past two seasons, the 2011 Jets fell to 22nd. Their average yards per carry(APC) of 3.8 was good for 29th in the 32 team league. They tied for 4th worst with only 7 runs over 20 yards. Their longest run …31 yards…was the shortest “long run” of any team.
While former Iowa Hawkeye Shonn Greene is a tough nut between the tackles, he provides no “home run” threat for a team that is in dire need of one. The once-great LaDanian Tomlinson nears the end of his Hall of Fame career and no longer possesses the 4.38 40 yard dash speed that left defenders in the dust. Their 2010 4th round draft choice, Joe McKnight, is a phenomenal kick returner but so far hasn’t been a major contributor to the run game. They are all solid performers, but none force defenses into loading up the box and creating man on man situations for QB Mark Sanchez to face. With the run game floundering, the “Sanchise” faced stiffer coverages and struggled to complete 56.7% of his passes.
They need a BIG boost , an injection of speed at the Halfback position. Speed will get those Defenses back on their heels and keep them from playing downhill on every snap. If the Safeties don’t have to come up to support the run they won’t bite on play action fakes. They can play over the top of your passing options, making the game much harder for your still-learning Quarterback.
Holding the #16 pick in the upcoming NFL draft, and with the draft’s top Running Back Trent Richardson not expected to make it out of the top 10-12, New York’s options are limited as far as filling this need with their first pick. Let’s not forget, they finished 8-8 and they have a several places on the roster that could use some help. Head Coach Rex Ryan has expressed a desire to find a dynamic pass rusher to run his exotic blitzing style defense, and it is thought that at #16, he will get a very good one. The signing of former Washington Redskin’s Safety LaRon Landry means that Alabama’s Mark Barron won’t be the pick in round 1.
New York can turn it’s attention to the running game in round 2 and beyond. Several prospects have the size/speed ratio to be studs on the next level. Miami’s LaMar Miller(5’11/212lbs, 4.38) will definitely go in round 1 and Virginia Tech’s David Wilson(5’10/200lbs, 4.40) will most likely be gone when the Jets pick at #47, but players such as Washington’s Chris Polk(5’11”-215, 4.45), Boise St.’s Doug Martin(5’9/210lbs, 4.55) and LaMichael James(5’9/185lbs, 4.45) of Oregon could be available. Anything can happen. If Tom Brady can fall to round 6, then there has to be a chance that Wilson could slide to #47… but it’s a small one. Utah State’s Robert Turbin(5’10/216lbs, 4.44) and Temple’s Bernard Pierce(6’0/218lbs, 4.49) could be there for New York with pick #78 and both have the size and speed to become feature backs.
New York is in a position to address several of its 2011 shortcomings through the draft. Taking into consideration LT’s age and the overall lack of production in 2011, look for Running Back to be one of them.