Last week, we highlighted three areas of need for Big Brother. Today, we’ll highlight three areas of need for Little Brother. Despite an 8-8 season in 2011, the Jets reached the AFC Championship in 2009 and 2010. While making an AFC Championships is never an accomplishment in New York, the Jets have proven they have the talent to get to big games. With the NFL Draft approaching in April, here are three possible routes the Jets could take.

Could Bama's Barron Be A Fit?

Unlike the Giants, the Jets have not been as successful with their recent first round picks. Vernon Gholston, the Jets’ first rounder in 2008, is not even in the NFL while 2010 first rounder, Kyle Wilson is routinely exposed in three-receiver sets. Mark Sanchez, the 2009 first rounder, clearly is a work in progress while 2011 first rounder Muhammad Wilkerson, had a very nice rookie season. Going into the 2012 NFL draft, here are three routes that the Jets could go with their sixteenth overall pick:

1. Safety

The Jets suffered a devastating blow when strong safety, free-agent-to-be Jim Leonhard tore his ACL late in the season. In addition, free safety Eric Smith was no match for big, physical tight ends over the middle of the field. Smith was also unimpressive in helping stop the run. Given Rex Ryan’s defensive tendancies, Ryan could opt to draft a ball hawking, physical safety and Alabama’s Mark Barron makes a lot of sense. Barron is an extremely physical–yet savvy player that was key piece of Alabama’s championship defense. Barron is considered by many to be this year’s top safety prospect.

With the Patriots featuring a two tight end passing attack, the Jets need a great player over the middle of the field–or they’ll never win the AFC East. Barron seems like a feasilbe option, given his body of work. Keep an eye on him at the NFL Combine.

2. Defensive End/Outside Linebacker

Aaron Maybin was a pleasant surprise for Jet fans. After donning the Jet green, Maybin registered six sacks in 13 games. Maybin is not a starting defensive end, but excels as a third-down pass rushing option. In addition, the Jets owe Calvin Pace $7.4 million and may opt to cut him after a lackluster 2011. Starting defensive end, Mike DeVito only registered one sack, so it’s apparent the Jets need an impact pass rusher.

When you think of mid-first round pass rushers, think of South Carolina’s Mevlin Ingram and Illinois’ Whitney Mercilus. Ingram had an excellent senior season as a Gamecock, registering ten sacks and providing versatility for Steve Spurrier’s defense. Ingram can line up as an outsider linebacker or as a defensive end. Mercilus registered 16 sacks during his junior season, but questions have emerged about his work ethic and attitude. Therefore, he’s a perfect fit for the Jets.

3. Wide Receiver

Plaxico Burress is all, but gone and Santonio Holmes cannot cooperate with Mark Sanchez, so the Jets don’t have any viable receivers. The Jets will likely give another Gamecock a look, wide receiver, Alshon Jeffery. Jeffery had very high expectations entering his junior year, but failed to live up to the hype. Jeffery grabbed just 49 passes for 762 yards and 8 TDs. Outside of the Capital One Bowl where he racked up 148 yards and 1 TD, Jeffery’s 2011 campaign was a massive disappoint. So why could he a potential first round pick for the Jets?

Jeffery is a basically a Burress clone, coming in at 6’4′”, 220 lbs. Jeffery can dominate smaller defenders in the red zone. His workouts will be interesting to watch, but given the Jets dwindling stable of wide receivers, they will consider the South Carolina product.

In addition, keep an eye on Baylor’s Kendall Wright and Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd.

Conclusion

I could get into a long winded discussion about how the right side of the Jet offensive line stinks, but I don’t feel like wasting additional key strokes. I could harp about how bad Matt Mulligan is at football, but I’ll spare him for now. Clearly, the Jets have some major needs and a good draft will go a long way to help.

If the Jets want to get to the Promise Land like Big Brother did, they’ll need a solid draft and improved, renewed leadership from its core players.