This is the second installment of our position-by-position breakdown for the New York Jets as we head to the April 27-29 draft:
Position: Running back
Key newcomers: None.
Departures: Khiry Robinson.
Projected starter: Powell/Forte.
Overview: To say the Jets are set with Forte and Powell is just plain misguided. While they were an effective tandem last season, combining for 1,535 yards on the ground, it would be short-sighted to ignore the position. A Forte-Powell combo could get the Jets through the season, but their birth certificates suggest it's time to think about the future. Forte is 31, Powell 28. The Jets need fresh blood and fast legs. Their longest run from scrimmage last season was only 35 yards, which won't scare too many defenses. They need a young back who can serve as a No. 3 and transition into a bigger role in 2018, when Forte likely will be gone. They also should add a fullback to the program; the new offensive system will use the fullback more than the previous one.
The last running back drafted: You have to go back to 2013, when they chose fullback Tommy Bohanon in the seventh round. The Jets haven't picked a running back in the first three rounds since Shonn Greene in 2009.
Potential targets: This is one of the better classes in quite a number of years. It wouldn't be a surprise to see seven get drafted in the first three rounds, including three in round one -- Leonard Fournette (LSU), Dalvin Cook (Florida State) and Christian McCaffrey (Stanford). The Jets haven't done much with the Big Three in the way of private workouts and/or visits. If they're hot for Fournette, the top-rated back, they've done a good job of covering their tracks. Fournette is a north-south runner with breakaway speed, the type of back who needs the ball 20 times a game. He'll be a quarterback's best friend, and the Jets' quarterbacks need all the friends they can find. Because of their versatility, Cook and McCaffrey would be ideal fits in a West Coast-style offense, but it would be a reach to take one with the sixth pick. Donnel Pumphrey (San Diego State) and Marlon Mack (South Florida), projected as day-three selections, have drawn interest from the Jets.
Need factor (based on a scale of 1 to 10): 6.