Pass-rushing presence the target for new-look Jets at No. 3

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Pass-rushing presence the target for new-look Jets at No. 3
New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (14) and wide receiver Quincy Enunwa (81) model the NFL football team's new "Gotham green" uniforms Thursday, April 4, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

NEW YORK (AP) — The Jets’ massive offseason makeover is about to take another critical step.

New York has the No. 3 overall pick in the NFL draft for the second straight year, and general manager Mike Maccagnan has a chance to add a big-time difference-maker to his overhauled roster.

Last year, the Jets got the quarterback they believe will be the face of the franchise for a long time in Sam Darnold.

This time around, they’re looking for someone to punish opposing signal callers with Ohio State’s Nick Bosa, Kentucky’s Josh Allen and Alabama’s Quinnen Williams all in the mix.

That is, if Maccagnan chooses to stay put, of course. He sent a clear message during the NFL combine in February that the Jets will certainly be open for business as far as draft-day trade talks. The Jets have just six picks, including two third-rounders, and one each in the fourth, sixth and seventh rounds.

“Right now, we feel good at No. 3, but I’d definitely say if there’s an opportunity to trade down, we would absolutely look at it,” Maccagnan said.

“If we end up picking a player at No. 3, we’ll feel really good. If there’s an opportunity for us to move back and acquire more picks, that’s something we’d definitely be potentially interested in.

“It would have to be the right kind of deal, but I definitely wouldn’t rule anything out at this point in time.”

If they do stay put, they’ll be assured of adding a player who would fill one of the major holes still remaining after on offseason filled with changes through firings, hirings, trades and free agency, including a new coach (Adam Gase), a fiery defensive coordinator (Gregg Williams), one of the best running backs in the game (Le’Veon Bell), a playmaking inside linebacker (C.J. Mosley) and a bulldozing left guard (Kelechi Osemele).

Oh, and the makeovers aren’t limited to just the roster. The Jets will be rockin’ flashy redesigned uniforms with a refreshed logo and metallic green helmets this season that have the players and many fans fired up.

“It’s a new era,” safety Jamal Adams said. “It’s a new start.”

Here are some things to know before the Jets go on the clock:

GETTING TO THE QB

The Jets have been looking for a game-wrecking pass rusher for years, and they’re still in the hunt for one.

They weren’t able to address that during free agency, with top options Justin Houston, Za’Darius Smith, Trey Flowers, Shaquil Barrett and Preston Smith all ending up elsewhere.

That means New York will zero in on defensive end Bosa, outside linebacker Allen or defensive tackle Williams if they stay at No. 3. If Allen’s still there, consider this: the team’s last outside linebacker with double-digit sacks was John Abraham with 10½ in 2005. Yeah, it’s been a while.

MAN IN THE MIDDLE

Versatile offensive lineman Jonotthan Harrison was re-signed after he started the final seven games at center, but it’s uncertain if he’s the starter.

The Jets considered Matt Paradis in free agency, but didn’t sign him. The only other player on the roster who has regularly played the position is Jon Toth, who spent last season on the practice squad.

So, if the Jets do trade down and get a second-rounder, North Carolina State’s Garrett Bradbury or Texas A&M’s Erik McCoy could solve another big question mark.

BIG BOYS UP FRONT

Other than center, it appears the rest of the Jets’ offensive line is set with Osemele, left tackle Kelvin Beachum, right tackle Brandon Shell and right guard Brian Winters. But beyond that, there’s very little depth.

Keeping Darnold protected is priority No. 1 for the franchise, so New York could aim to add a potential starter in the draft. Also, Beachum is signed only through this season and will turn 30 in June, so New York could be in the market for a left tackle to eventually replace him.

TURNING THE CORNER

Cornerback Trumaine Johnson was the Jets’ big addition in free agency last year, but struggled with a quadriceps injury and inconsistency in his first season in New York. He’ll be counted on to bounce back this season, but it’s unclear who’ll be on the opposite side.

Morris Claiborne has not been re-signed, so it could be Darryl Roberts, who has been mostly a spot starter at both cornerback and safety. The Jets also signed Brian Poole , who has been one of the league’s top nickel corners. So, they might look to add to the position in an early round.

BY THE NUMBERS

The Jets have selected third overall in the NFL draft just twice, including last year when they traded up to get Darnold.

The other time: 1981, when they took running back Freeman McNeil, the franchise’s second-leading rusher.

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