This is the seventh installment of our position-by-position breakdown for the New York Jets as we head to the April 27-29 draft:
Current personnel: Inside -- David Harris (signed through 2017), Darron Lee (2019), Julian Stanford (2017), Jeff Luc (2018); Outside -- Jordan Jenkins (2019), Lorenzo Mauldin (2018), Josh Martin (2018), Randell Johnson (2017), Freddie Bishop (2017), Corey Lemonier (2017), Frank Beltre (2018).
Key newcomers: None.
Projected starters: ILB Harris, ILB Lee, OLB Jenkins, OLB Mauldin.
Overview: The Jets have invested premium draft picks the last two years on Mauldin, Lee and Jenkins, but they're still searching for that elusive edge-rushing presence. Mauldin hasn't lived up to expectations, in part, because of injuries. This is a critical year for him. Jenkins plays on the edge, but he's more of a strong-side run-stuffer than a pass-rusher. Quite simply, they need speed on the perimeter to complement their strong interior rushers. Harris, 33, is heading into what likely will be his final season with the Jets. He's still a terrific "quarterback," but it'll be interesting to see if his role is reduced. He's always been a three-down linebacker, but those days could be over. The spotlight will be on Lee, whose speed and athleticism must translate into production. His rookie year was so-so; the coaches expect a big jump.
The last linebacker drafted: Lee was picked 20th overall last year.
Potential targets: They won't draft a linebacker with the sixth overall pick, but the position comes into play after that. They're showing strong interest in Charles Harris (Missouri), widely regarded as a top-25 pick. The Jets brought him into town for a visit. Harris, whose game revolves around speed and a quick first step, has the ability to be a disruptive edge player. He recorded 16 sacks as a three-year player for the Tigers. He's had two surgically repaired shoulders, so that bears watching. He could be an option if the Jets wind up with a pick in the 12 to 32 range. Others to watch are Ryan Anderson (Alabama) and T.J. Watt (Wisconsin), the younger brother of J.J. Watt. Both are scheme fits and could be considerations in the second round (No. 39 overall). A wild card is Tim Williams (Alabama), an exceptional speed rusher with character issues. Inside 'back Reuben Foster (Alabama), once projected as a top-10 pick, reportedly failed a drug test at the scouting combine and could slide into Round 2. From a football standpoint, he'd be a steal at 39, but there's risk.
Need factor (based on a scale of 1 to 10): Inside -- 6; Outside -- 6.