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Draft preview: Linebacker

This is the eighth installment in a position-by-position analysis of the Jets as they prepare for the draft:

Position: Linebacker

Depth chart: Inside -- David Harris, Demario Davis, Josh Mauga, Nick Bellore, Danny Lansanah, JoJo Dickson; Outside -- Antwan Barnes, Calvin Pace, Garrett McIntyre, Ricky Sapp.

Departures: Bart Scott (released), Bryan Thomas (unsigned).

Total salary-cap charge (positional rank): $18.83 million (3rd)

Scouting report: The Jets re-signed Pace, but they still need a pass-rushing outside 'backer. They haven't had a player register more than six sacks in a season since 2009. Since then, the team's sack total has dropped steadily. They averaged only one sack per every 17.8 dropbacks last season, ranked 23rd, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The Jets signed Barnes, a pass-rushing specialist, but he's coming off a three-sack season with the Chargers -- a major dropoff from 11 in 2011.

The main objective is to improve the overall speed, outside and inside. Davis, who steps in for Scott, helps in that respect. But there's still plenty of work to be done. The linebacking corps, which stayed together four years, is in the middle of a transition period. Without Darrelle Revis as a security blanket on the back end, Rex Ryan needs someone who can get to the quarterback on a consistent basis.

The last time: Davis was selected last year in the third round. They haven't drafted an outside linebacker since Vernon Gholston, sixth overall in 2008. After Gholston, we can almost excuse them for being gun shy.

Potential targets: The best fit is pass rusher Dion Jordan (Oregon), but he's expected to go anywhere from second to seventh. It would be a gift from the draft gods if he slipped to the Jets at nine. They've been linked to OLB Barkevious Mingo (LSU), an undersized rusher with an explosive first step. In college, his production didn't match his talent, a concern for some teams. Jarvis Jones (Georgia) was a playmaking machine, but he ran poorly on his pro day and a spinal-stenosis condition could cause him to drop in the first round. Too much of a risk for the Jets, who could end up waiting until the second round. Cornelius Washington (Georgia), with a tremendous size-speed ratio, could be a second-round option.

Need rating (scale of 1 to 10): Outside -- 10; Inside -- 2.