Grading the New York Jets' Entire 53-Man Roster
While there is always the possibility for more changes to the Jets' final roster with Mike Tannenbaum running the show, the 53-man roster is just about set for the 2012 season.
This roster is perhaps more lopsided towards the defensive side than ever before, but young players on offense have potential to become quality players; the question is how long it will take for them to develop.
Here are grades on each player and position on the finalized Jets roster.
Mark Sanchez: C+
While the touchdown-less preseason will be something for the media to harp on all week, Sanchez has looked more comfortable and poised over the past month than ever before. While the points may not be coming at the clip the Jets are looking for, Sanchez has had to deal with throwing to fourth and fifth-string receivers with a turnstile as his right tackle.
One would assume that Sanchez's solid preseason would get even better with Holmes and Kerley returning to the lineup, but his history as an inconsistent player gives us pause as to how he will perform in the regular season.
Tim Tebow: C
Tim Tebow does not get a low grade because of the Jets' decision to bring in a media circus; this grade stems from a pretty lousy preseason performance.
While he has made a few runs and has improved his throwing motion a bit, it is clear that he simply does not belong in the NFL as a passer. His interception against the Panthers was about as ugly as it gets, throwing into a crowd of four defenders.
Greg McElroy: B+
Of all of the Jets quarterbacks, McElroy had the most productive half of football. He looked poised, confident and accurate as he led the Jets to their only touchdown drive.
Based on what we saw against the Eagles, McElroy could probably go into a regular season game without completely falling flat on his face.
Running Backs: B-
Shonn Greene: B
Greene had a very solid preseason, showing more quickness and burst than we have ever seen from him, especially in their loss against the Giants. With the Jets reverting to their old run-first offense, a healthy and effective Greene is going to be the key to their success.
Joe McKnight: B-
McKnight was initially removed from backup duties due to the unexpected rise of Bilal Powell, but after looking like the Jets' most explosive backfield weapon, it is going to be difficult to keep him off the field on third downs.
Bilal Powell: B-
Powell got more hype than just about any other player in the early days of camp, but it took him until the fourth preseason game to flash the burst and explosiveness that we have been hearing about.
If he can continue his upward trend against starters, he can take a firm hold on the third-down duties, but most of his production has come from going against backups and bubble players.
John Conner: C-
An injury to Josh Baker is probably the only reason why Conner even made the team. Since being anointed as the "Terminator" back in 2010, Conner has done a whole lot of nothing going into his third year as a pro.
Until he becomes the power blocker the Jets thought he would become, he is flirting with the waiver wire as the Jets continue to tweak their roster.
Wide Receivers: C-
Santonio Holmes: B
When healthy and happy, Holmes is one of the best receivers in the game. While Sanchez and Holmes appear to have gotten over their petty differences, Holmes is just getting back from a nagging hamstring injury that sidelined him for most of the preseason.
Without Holmes, the Jets offense was pretty stagnant, as the other receivers struggled to gain separation. The Jets need Holmes to get back to his old self in the worst way if the starters want to score their first touchdown of the season in the first week.
Stephen Hill: C
Hill's first training camp has been a mixed bag. While he shows flashes of being a deep threat and jump-ball ability, he developed a nasty case of the dropsies that killed multiple drives.
Still, Hill is just a rookie and learning the complexities of playing the position. As he gets more comfortable, the drop numbers should decrease.
Jeremy Kerley: B
Kerley missed almost the entire preseason with a hamstring injury (in addition to being in Rex Ryan's proverbial doghouse). However, it was apparent that the Jets missed his presence in the middle of the field, being a security blanket for Sanchez. He is one of the few receivers on the roster that gets consistent separation.
More than ever, the Jets need Kerley to return to form as quickly as possible to help get this offense back on track.
Patrick Turner: C
While Turner is clearly not as talented as his status as a former third-round pick would suggest, his display of consistent improvement and competitiveness has earned him at least one more year on the team. His size alone makes him a quality candidate as a fifth receiver.
Chaz Schilens: INC
We really just have not seen enough of Schilens to give him a proper "grade," as he has been dealing with injury issues throughout camp. But the fact that he won a roster spot without doing much of anything in camp shows that the Jets like his potential and physical tools.
Clyde Gates: D+
Gates may be a speedster, but if he could not make the Dolphins' horrendous receiving corps, I am not sure how he is going to help out the Jets. Cutting another proven commodity in favor or a David Clowney clone has a low chance of paying off.
Brandon Moore: A-
One of the best pass protectors in the game, Moore only gets a minus because he is coming off a "minor" procedure that could potentially impact his performance in the short-term. Other than that, Moore is as consistent and productive as they come as one of the team's offensive leaders.
Matt Slauson: B-
Many point to left guard as a position the Jets should look to upgrade, but Slauson has improved enough over the past year in his pass protection to be regarded as a solid starter. He's no Jahri Evans in terms of physical ability, but he's tough and fits the Jets' offensive personality to a T.
Vladimir Ducasse: C+
Lost in all of the attention given to the porous right tackle play was the fact that Ducasse had, by far, his best camp of his young career. He never had the look of being mentally overwhelmed like he usually does. Perhaps Vlad is finally beginning to figure this whole NFL thing out.
Dennis Landolt: C-
It was a bit surprising to see Landolt make the roster, but the Jets probably wanted to play it safe this year by keeping around an extra offensive lineman.
Nick Mangold: A+
Mangold is far and away the best center in the game to the point where the Jets are too reliant on his ability. Mangold has only missed a handful of game in his career, but the Jets need to be more prepared for an injury to a key offensive lineman to avoid a disaster like last year.
Caleb Schlauderaff: C+
A versatile player, the Jets are counting on Caleb to be able to step in at any of the interior positions if need be.
D'Brickashaw Ferguson: B
Ferguson has not been able to stop his declining performance this preseason, which is certainly a cause of concern. He was abused by Osi Umenyiora rather consistently in the second preseason game.
He was better against Carolina, but outside of Charles Johnson (who lined up against Austin Howard on most snaps), their pass-rushers are mediocre. The Jets need Brick to get back to being the "brick" on the left side of the line if they want to start scoring touchdowns at a higher rate than once per month.
Austin Howard: C
We will never understand why it took the Jets so long to realize that Howard was a better player than Wayne Hunter. He held his own against Carolina's Charles Johnson, one of the better pass-rushers in the NFL. If he can just avoid being a complete disaster and give Sanchez a chance to make plays, it would be a massive upgrade over Wayne Hunter's production.
Jason Smith: C
For having been on the team for just a few days, Smith played exceptionally well against the Eagles as the starting left tackle. It may have been against backups, but the Eagles have unusual depth at defensive end, and he shut them down just about every time the Jets dropped back.
Smith will see time as a jumbo tight end this year, but if he winds up going into a game at tackle because of an injury, he's still a huge upgrade over Wayne Hunter.
Tight Ends: C
Dustin Keller: B+
He's no road-grader in the run game, but he is Sanchez's favorite target over the middle and creates matchup problems for every defense. Re-signing him in the offseason will be the Jets' top priority.
Jeff Cumberland: C
Cumberland is yet another receiving tight end, which is something the Jets have been collecting. However, he needs to find a way to stay healthy, or the Jets may lose their patience. The fact that the Jets claimed another tight end off waivers does not speak well for Cumberland's unspectacular summer.
Konrad Reuland: D
It was no surprise that the Jets went after a tight end in the annual "mini draft." What was a surprise is that they chose to snag yet another receiving tight end from the 49ers.
Reuland want to Stanford and signed with the 49ers because of his connection to Jim Harbaugh. If Harbaugh was ready to move on from Reuland, why should he have any business making the Jets?
To me, keeping a player like Marcus Dixon or Antonio Allen around is more valuable than taking a flier on yet another tight end prospect who can't block.
Defensive Ends: A-
Muhammad Wilkerson: A-
It took Wilkerson three weeks to flash the dominant play coaches have been raving about all offseason, but he finally turned a good performance against a good Panthers offensive line.
Wilkerson has all of the ability necessary to make a JPP-like jump to the top of the NFL, but for now, all it is is potential.
Mike DeVito: B+
One of the league's best 3-4 run defenders, DeVito clearly made an effort this offseason to become a better all-around player. He looks considerable thinner and quicker and was the Jets' best pass-rusher against the Giants.
When DeVito gets back from his calf injury (which should be Week 1), the Jets are going to have some serious depth and talent at the defensive end position.
Quinton Coples: B+
Jets fans balked when the Jets elected to take Coples over Melvin Ingram in this year's draft, but Coples' sheer dominance this preseason is making Rex Ryan look like the genius he is.
Coples is tied for the league lead in Sacks with 4.5, which is impressive for any rookie no matter what kind of competition he is going against. He blows up double teams and is clearly on another level in terms of sheer physical dominance.
Coples is just scratching the surface of his massive iceberg of potential. The Jets may have found something special here if they can keep his motor going at 100 percent.
Defensive Tackles: B+
Sione Po'uha: A-
Sione has yet to take a snap this preseason, as he has been dealing with an array of head and back injuries. He should return for the opener, but he may be a step slow after missing out on a month of valuable reps.
Kenrick Ellis: B+
Ellis has been one of the most improved players so far. Filling in for Sione Pouha in the middle of the Jets defense, Ellis has been stout at the point of attack, even bringing an element of pass-rush to his game.
If Sione's back keeps flaring up, the Jets should be just fine with Ellis in the fold if he continues to make strides.
Damon Harrison: B
Harrison won his spot the hard way by beating out veteran Martin Tevaseu for the third defensive tackle job. He was dominant in the final game against the Eagles, which may have sealed his fate with the team.
Behind two quality player in Ellis and Po'uha, Harrison will have time to develop into a potential starter.
Isaako Aatui: C-
One of the three additions on the waiver wire, the Jets were clearly looking to move on from Martin Tevaseu by bringing in the former Dolphin to take his place.
Inside Linebackers: A-
David Harris: A-
Harris is a terrific run player and a perfect fit as the strong-side inside linebacker. However, he can be picked on in coverage, hence the minus.
Bart Scott: B
Scott had a fantastic game against the Giants, looking like the 2008 version of Scott that was light on his feet and quick to react. So far, Scott is delivering on his promise to be a faster and more effective version of himself.
Demario Davis: B+
Davis had himself a strong preseason, playing in multiple alignments in the defense and flying to the ball on every snap. This season, look for Davis to play in select defensive packages and be a core special teams player.
Josh Mauga: B
When David Harris went down with an injury against the Panthers, it was Mauga, not Demario Davis, who stepped in his place. Therefore, as of right now, Mauga is Scott's primary backup, at least in base packages.
Nick Bellore: B
The Jets actually tried out Bellore at fullback a few weeks ago. This means that a) the Jets did everything they could to keep Bellore on the team and b) they are unimpressed with John Conner.
Ultimately, the Jets cut some good football players to keep Bellore around, which speaks to how highly the coaches think of him.
Outside Linebackers: C+
Calvin Pace: B-
Pace did not see a ton of action this preseason, but he was a very good edge-setter when he did get in the game. Still, he is not the dynamic pass-rusher the Jets are sorely missing at the position and is most effective when limited to first and second down duties.
Bryan Thomas: C+
Thomas is essentially a mirror image of Pace, except a few years older and coming off an ACL tear. Still, his veteran presence is important on a defensive front that features a lot of youth and inexperience.
Garrett McIntyre: A-
McIntyre truly earned his spot on the roster with his quietly-dominant play in the preseason. His incredible motor was a big reason why Bryan Thomas called him the "MVP of training camp" (via Kimberly Martin of Newsday).
If McIntyre keeps improving, I expect to get serious consideration to be a starter sometime down the road.
Aaron Maybin: C
For all of the buzz that Maybin has been getting as the Jets' reclamation project, he had a underwhelming preseason.
There is no questioning his speed, but he simply lacks the discipline to be an every-down player, and he can be abused in the run game. He still has a long way to go before he is ever to be considered as a full-time player.
Darrelle Revis: A+
Revis is, by far, the best corner in the game and perhaps the best defender in the game as well. The only questions surrounding Revis are contract-related, which will most certainly need to be addressed next summer.
Antonio Cromartie: A-
Cromartie has slowly become one of the better man-to-man players in the game as he gets more and more comfortable in Rex's system.
With Rex taking back control of the defense, Cromartie's excellent ball skills will lead to much more interception numbers.
Kyle Wilson: C-
Because of the immense amount of talent around him, Wilson is the weak link in the Jets secondary. He give up far too many completions and has still not found his comfort zone in the slot position.
The Jets have a chance to be special on defense, but Wilson's inconsistencies could hold them back from reaching their full potential.
Ellis Lankster: B
Lankster had a strong camp and has the fourth corner spot locked up. However, if Kyle Wilson continues to disappoint, the Jets may decide to give Lankster a look in the slot. Because of his physicality, he may suit the position better.
Isiah Trufant: C+
Rex Ryan pointed out Trufant as one of the guys that had strong performances in the final preseason game, which may have won him a job. He was tested again and again on deep passes, and responded well each time.
A quality blitzer and sure tackler, Trufant has found a role as a special teams player and possible fill-in for dime packages.
LaRon Landry: B+
Landry has had a great start to his stint with the Jets, making bit hits and being around the ball to make plays again and again.
Landry's ability has never been the issue. Staying healthy has always been his Achillies heel. If he can avoid the injury report this year, this could be Tannenbaum's best signing of the offseason.
Yeremiah Bell: B
Bell is fitting in just nicely in Jim Leonard's old role. Not only is he making play in the run game but he has been better than expected in coverage as well.
While he is still not the man to be covering Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, his veteran presence in the back end of the defense is welcomed.
Josh Bush: B+
Bush had a fantastic start for the injured Bell in the third preseason game, as he was excellent in coverage and more physical than he is given credit for. If there is ever an injury to Landry or Bell, the Jets should have no qualms about putting the rookie in.
Eric Smith: C
Smith is still trying to get back onto the field after suffering a knee injury early in the preseason.
While he struggled mightily in a full-time role last year, he can be an effective player on special teams and in sub-packages. He should see plenty of time in "Big Nickel" packages once he returns to the field.
Nick Folk: B+
Folk won a hard-fought kicking battle and followed it up by drilling a 58-yard field goal in the final preseason game. However, Folk is known for being streaky, so his job is never quite secure.
T.J. Conley: C-
While he has flashed potential, Conley is simply far too inconsistent, shaking two punts in a row against the Giants. The Jets my regret not finding a replacement punter in the offseason.
Tanner Purdum (Long Snapper): A
The Jets have not had any issues with their snapper over the past year, as Purdum has been as solid as a rock.