As the Gregg Williams hire is finalized, the Jets will be moving from a 3-4 to 4-3. Although he will bring fire to the young defense, this brings some personnel complications.
There are eight players that I would say are more than likely going to be returning as starters on this defense. Two of them, Morris Claiborne and Henry Anderson, are free agents. However, they are likely to come back as they had solid seasons and will likely receive generous offers.
Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye will come back and start at safety. Both of them should take big steps as safeties generally succeed in Williams’ aggressive scheme. Trumaine Johnson is locked down as a corner, and should be very excited as he had a career year under Williams on the Rams. Darron Lee and Avery Williamson will both be starting after great years, but they will need a partner in the three linebacker look.
The final starter will be Leonard Williams. Like Anderson, Williams doesn’t fit perfectly in the 4-3 defense. Williams and Anderson probably aren’t quick enough to play defensive ends, but they may not thrive as defensive tackles. The last influential player is Jordan Jenkins. Jenkins played outside linebacker last year and has a career year with seven sacks and two forced fumbles. Jenkins will be back next year, but may struggle to produce again in the new system. I predict Jenkins will start, but look for him to possible be replaced by Anderson at defensive end if he isn’t producing.
This leaves us with three positions to address: linebacker, defensive tackle, and defensive end. Luckily for the Jets the 2019 free agency class and draft class are loaded with front seven players. The Jets may be able to fill the defensive line hole internally by resigning Anderson and Steve McLendon, but defensive end and linebacker must be filled through free agency or the draft.
To fill the linebacker slot, the Jets should look to free agency. Kwon Alexander and C.J. Mosley are both elite talents that could hit the market. While they will be hard to get, there are also second tier options such as Anthony Barr and K.J. Wright.
The Jets can find an elite pass rusher however they please. In free agency, the top options are Demarcus Lawrence, Jadeveon Clowney, Dee Ford, Frank Clark, and Trey Flowers. Although most won’t hit the market, one of these players would help the Jets tremendously. The top of the NFL Draft is also loaded with ends. With the third pick, the best targets are Josh Allen and Nick Bosa, however they very well could go one and two. If the Jets trade back to six or seven, they could target Clelin Ferrell or Rashan Gary.
Overall, the switch should not cause many issues. This years free agency class is heavy in defensive talent, so look for the Jets to spend big on defensive stars and improve on last seasons results.