Jets, Giants NFL Draft Preview

April 25, 2012 Updated: April 25, 2012
New York Giants v New York Jets
The Jets first round pick in 2011, Muhammad Wilkerson (R), had a lukewarm season in 2011 though it's too early to see how good he'll become. (Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

The NFL draft starts Thursday night and both the Jets and Giants have a pick among the first 32 selections, with the Jets picking 16th and the Super Bowl champion Giants holding the final pick.

Jets Draft Info

Jets needs: After a disappointing 8–8 season the Jets showed a number of areas with weaknesses. Though Rex Ryan is a tremendous defensive coach the team lacks an elite pass-rushing defensive end or linebacker. In addition the offense line’s struggles after an early-season injury to center Nick Mangold showed how little depth or talent is on the line beyond him. And in playing against the Patriots and their pair of pass-catching tight ends twice last season (losing both times) it became clear the need for an upgrade at safety.

Who the Jets should pick: Whitney Mercilus, DE out of Illinois—assuming they don’t trade up for tackle Matt Kalil or running back Trent Richardson. Mercilus, known for having a great motor, led the NCAA with nine forced fumbles last year while racking up 16 sacks in 13 games.

What they’ll do of course is anybody’s guess. But the Jets have been known to be aggressive in trading up to get their guy like they did for Mark Sanchez and Shonn Greene in separate trades in 2009. Looking back at their previous four first rounds we can review what they’ve done and grade them with the benefit of hindsight.

The 2011 draft, 30th overall selection: Muhammad Wilkerson, DT from Temple—Wilkerson totaled three sacks last year and recorded a safety but it’s too early to tell with him what kind of value the Jets have here. The coaching staff thought enough of him to play him every game, which is a good sign, but he didn’t jump off the charts either.

Grade: Incomplete

Who they could have taken: There was no one noticeably better than Wilkerson taken right behind him.

The 2010 draft, 29th overall selection: Kyle Wilson, CB from Boise State—Wilson played better in 2011, his second season in the league, as a nickel cornerback, but ultimately even the Jets had little faith in him after just 16 games in 2010, opting to re-sign corner Antonio Cromartie prior to the 2011 season. You’d certainly want to find more than a backup player in the first round.

Grade: D+

Who they could have taken: TE Rob Gronkowski (All-Pro in 2011).

The 2009 draft…