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Jets draft preview: Defensive line

This is the sixth installment in a nine-part series that will analyze the Jets' needs, position by position, in the upcoming draft.

Position: Defensive line.

Depth Chart: Shaun Ellis (DE), Sione Pouha (NT), Mike DeVito (DE/DT), Trevor Pryce (DE/DT), Martin Tevaseu (NT), Marcus Dixon (DE), Matt Kroul (DT), Ropati Pitoitua (DE), Carlton Powell (DT), Jarron Gilbert (DT/DE), Garrett McIntyre (DE), Lorenzo Washington (DE).

Not under contract: Ellis, Pryce.

Scouting Report: The game plan in two words -- youth movement. The Jets have only two experienced players under contract -- Pouha and DeVito -- and Pouha is 32. Even if Ellis, 34, returns on a short-term deal -- his dominating playoff performance against the Patriots probably earned him a new contract -- the line still needs reinforcements. Because defensive end isn't a huge playmaking position in the Jets' scheme, they'd rather not make a significant investment (like a first-round pick) if it can be avoided. That's why they're hoping Dixon and Pitoitua can step up. There appears to be little chance of re-signing Kris Jenkins, so they could use some help on the nose. Pouha did a solid job last year, but they need an heir apparent. Nose tackle is vital in Rex Ryan's system, and he wants to find his next Jenkins.

The Last Time: The Jets haven't drafted a defensive lineman since Titus Adams, a seventh-round choice in 2006 -- and he was a washout. The last time they really addressed the area was 2005, when Pouha was selected in the third round. That's too long.

Potential Targets: The hottest name linked with the 30th overall pick is Baylor NT Phil Taylor (6-3, 334), a less athletic version of Jenkins. Taylor isn't a one-gap penetrator, but he's strong enough and big enough to anchor at the point of attack. Illinois DT Corey Liuget (6-2, 298) would be a 'tweener in the Jets' scheme, but if he unexpectedly falls, he'd be hard to pass up. Temple's Muhammad Wilkerson (6-4, 315) would be ideal as a 5-technique DE, the heir apparent to Ellis, but he, too, would have to take an unexpected tumble.

The most realistic option at end is Ohio State's Cam Heyward (6-5, 294), a perfect fit in the 3-4. He isn't going to wow anybody as a pass rusher, but he's solid and durable -- although he's coming off elbow surgery. Jets fans might be freaked out by the prospect of another Ohio State defender (see: Vernon Gholston), but Heyward is entirely different. Iowa's Adrian Clayborn (6-3, 281) is small for end in the 3-4, but he might draw consideration if he slips.

Need Factor (on a scale of 1 to 10): 10.

Tuesday: Linebacker.