Jets Draft Predictions: Courtney Upshaw, Michael Floyd, Mark Barron on New York's Radar?

The Jets will look to improve their defense in next week's draft.
The Jets will look to improve their defense in next week's draft. Reuters

The NFL Draft is just eight days away, and the Jets will be looking to improve their team for the upcoming season.

New York had one of the more disappointing seasons in 2011, and has a lot of needs heading into next season. ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. said the Jets have as many holes as any potential playoff team.

The Jets will be very active during the draft. They have 10 picks in total, including six in the last two rounds. New York has the 16 th pick in the first round. Their next two selections come at 47 and 77.

Here are the biggest needs the Jets will look to fill in the draft, and the top players they will be targeting.

Pass Rusher

Despite Rex Ryan's reputation as a great defensive coach, his Jet teams have yet to have a great pass rushing defense. The Jets were tied for 17th in the NFL last year with 35 sacks. Ryan prides himself on coaching teams that can wreak havoc on the quarterback, and will likely make it a point to upgrade in the draft.

New York can afford to upgrade at defensive end with Mike DeVito and Muhammad Wilkerson as the team's starters. The Jets also got subpar performances from veterans Calvin Pace and Bart Scott at the linebacker position in 2011.

Defensive end/linebacker Courtney Upshaw fills the Jets need for a pass rusher, and is the most likely candidate to be their first round selection. Upshaw had 16.5 sacks in 27 starts at Alabama, and would fit as a linebacker in the Jets 3-4 defense.

If Upshaw is off the board when the Jets are ready to pick, they could go after Dont'a Hightower of Alabama or Whitney Mercilus of Illinois. Chandler Jones from Syracuse might also be taken by New York at 16 overall.

Wide Receiver

The Jets certainly could use a wide receiver to help out Mark Sanchez next season. New York didn't have a thousand yard receiver in 2011, and their number one wide out, Santonio Holmes, only caught 51 balls for 654 yards. Plaxico Burress is a free agent, leaving the Jets without a proven number two option at the position.

New York was near the bottom of the league in passing in 2011, coming in at 21st with 3,297 yards. The Jets certainly don't need any depth at quarterback after trading for Tim Tebow and signing Sanchez to a contract extension. Therefore, they will likely have to draft a few receivers to help solve the problem.

If the Jets are looking to select a wide receiver with their first pick, Notre Dame's Michael Floyd would be their guy. However, New York is more likely to wait until the second or third round to grab a wide out. Alshon Jeffrey from South Carolina and Stephen Hill from Georgia Tech are on the Jets radar for second round selection.

Safety

One half of the Jets secondary is perhaps the strongest in the league. Darrell Revis is the best cornerback in the NFL, and Antonio Cromartie is also one of the better players at his position.

The Jets safeties are a different story.

Eric Smith and newly acquired LaRon Landry are currently the Jets starters, and New York doesn't have much depth at the position. Jim Leonhard is a free agent, and Brodney Pool is now with the Cowboys. The team's safeties only had a combined two interceptions in 2011, and they are looking to improve.

Mark Barron out of Alabama is the best safety in the draft, and could be taken by New York if he's still available. Unfortunately for New York, there's a good chance he won't be around to be taken at 16. Harrison Smith out of Notre Dame is an option too, but the Jets will likely wait to grab a safety if Barron is off the board.

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