Jets' backfield loses thunder (Chris Ivory), could use some lightning

Signing Matt Forte takes some of the sting away from losing Chris Ivory in free agency for the Jets. AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

This is the second installment of our position-by-position breakdown for the New York Jets as we head to the April 28-30 draft:

Position: Running back

Current personnel: Matt Forte (signed through 2019), Bilal Powell (2018), Tommy Bohanon (2016), Zac Stacy (2016), Khiry Robinson (2016), Dri Archer (2016), Dominique Williams (2017)

Key newcomers: Forte, Robinson

Departures: Chris Ivory (free agent/Jaguars); Stevan Ridley (free agent/Lions)

Projected starters: Forte, Bohanon (FB)

Overview: The top priority in the early stage of free agency was rebuilding the backfield, and they did a nice job of reacting to Ivory's departure. Without Ivory, there will be less power and fewer broken tackles, but Forte's versatility can add an element to the passing game. Powell is a jack-of-all-trades and Robinson projects as the power back. Not drafting a running back wouldn't kill the Jets this season, but they could look to add a developmental player -- ideally, a back with speed. This position lacks a true burner.

The last running back drafted: Bohanon, a fullback, was a seventh-round pick in 2013. The last true running back was Terrance Ganaway, a sixth-round choice in 2012. He never made it out of training camp. This has been a free agency-fueled position in recent years.

Potential targets (projected round)

  • Kenyan Drake, Alabama (fourth to sixth round): Overshadowed by Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry, Drake made his share of big plays for the Crimson Tide. His 95-yard kickoff return was one of the key plays in the CFP championship game. You may have heard, the Jets need a kickoff returner. Drake doesn't have much wiggle, but he's a big back (6-foot-1, 210 pounds) with excellent straight-line speed. He can also catch, as he averaged 12.5 yards per reception over his career. Durability is a concern; he suffered a broken arm and leg in college.

  • Josh Ferguson, Illinois (fourth to sixth round): The Jets don't have a proven guy like him -- a 5-9, 198-yard scat back with outstanding short-area quickness. He's intriguing because of his productivity in the passing game -- 168 catches in his career.

  • Darius Jackson, Eastern Michigan (seventh round): He put on a show at his pro day, running a sub-4.4 time in the 40 at 6-foot, 221 pounds. He was a one-year wonder in college (1,088 rushing yards, 14 touchdowns last season), but he piqued the Jets' interest enough to earn a pre-draft visit.

Need factor (based on a scale of 1 to 10): 3