By Ernie Palladino
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A neighbor, a big Jets fan, was walking back from church the other day when someone asked him who his team would draft come this weekend.

“Does it matter?” he said, a combination of resignation and dejection in his voice.

Hey, he’s got a right to it. They’ve made a number of high-round blunders in their history, most recently their 2008 drafting of mega-bust Vernon Gholston in the first round, to such legendary first-round missteps as fullback Roger Vick in 1987 to Jeff Lageman, who went on to a solid career in Jacksonville, in 1989, and even, as some might contend, Mark Sanchez in 2009.

But that Jets fan was looking more toward the present than past flops like Browning Nagle (1991), Kyle Brady (1995), or even 2010 second-rounder Vladimir Ducasse, who in two short years has failed at not one, but two positions and now faces a do-or-die season.

For this guy, just about any way they go with the 16th pick is fine with him. There are so many holes on this team that any position is right, as long as they get somebody who can actually play like 2007 first-round cornerback Darrelle Revis.

See, they don’t always blow it. And this year in particular, with spots on the offensive line, running back, a vacancy at outside linebacker when Bryan Thomas calls it a career in the next year or so, and the middle secondary, just about anyone with heart and a heartbeat will do.

Of course, anyone could use a defensive linemen, especially a pass rusher. So the Jets could forsake all their obvious issues. Remember, no one should get too excited over the free agent signings of former Cowboys fifth-round safety DeAngelo Smith as a possible replacement for Jim Leonhard, and injury-prone defensive end Jay Richardson as answers at those spots.

Owning 10 picks this year, GM Mike Tannenbaum could well choose to package one or two of those to move up a couple of spots and grab a good pass-rushing DE like North Carolina’s Quinton Coples. And if he decides to go offense, a good guard (since Ducasse appears useless) could be available around their spot in Stanford’s Dave DeCastro.

At least one eminent draftnik sees Memphis DT Dontari Pope as a potential Haloti Ngata, and wouldn’t he look nice in the middle of the Jets’ front? If the coaches can’t improve a pass-rush that was, meh, at Memphis, the 350-pounder could at least serve as a space-eater.

Wide receiver could become a target, especially if the unrepentant Santonio Holmes doesn’t change his attitude toward his starting quarterback. They might just want to go after a guy like Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd to have in reserve, just in case Holmes talks his way off the roster after they start 2012 losing to the Bills and Steelers.

No. It doesn’t really matter where the Jets go with any of their picks. Maybe a second-round running back who can spell Shonn Greene and actually hang onto the ball. Maybe a tight end in the later rounds.

Quarterback? Nah, just kidding. They’ve got Tim Tebow, a bulky guy who can make the Wildcat go and the angels sing.

They just have to make sure they’re right in the early rounds. That hasn’t always been the case with the Jets.

What should the Jets do with pick No. 16? Be heard in the comments below…


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