Grading New York Jets' Drafts from the Past Decade
The Jets have a lot holes to fill with limited cap space, so many of the players you will see on the field come September will be from the draft.
While the New York Jets hired a new general manager this offseason, much of their previous regime remains intact. Head coach Rex Ryan is still around albeit on the hot seat and owner Woody Johnson always has a say in personnel decisions.
The brunt of the pressure will be on new GM John Idzik, so lets take a look at the Jets' drafts from the past decade to see what he has to live up to.
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Players Drafted: Quinton Coples, Stephen Hill, Demario Davis, John Bush, Terrance Ganaway, Robert T. Griffin, Antonio Allen, Jordan White
Coples and Hill both saw significant action this year. Hill had a quick start to the season and struggled with drops down the stretch, while Coples, on the other hand, started slow before coming on in the second half of the season.
Coples was very impressive at the end of the season, racking up 3.5 sacks in a three-game span in December. He should continue his growth as a pass rusher next year, something the Jets are in dire need of.
Josh Bush and Demario Davis both played in all 16 games, but neither didn't make much of an impact as backups. The other players were either cut or made the practice squad but no one had any impact whatsoever.
Overall, there is potential at the top, but there isn't much depth to the draft. Coples and Hill may turn out to be legitimate NFL players, but it's still too early to tell. After this year this grade could change one way or the other.
Players Drafted: Muhammad Wilkerson, Kenrick Ellis, Bilal Powell, Jeremy Kerley, Greg McElroy, Scotty McKnight
Overall, this draft is talented and fairly deep.
Wilkerson has proved in his two years that he can wreak havoc as a 3-4 defensive end. While he's only got the quarterback eight and a half times in two seasons, he has been able to make an impact collecting 119 tackles and four fumbles forced. Defensive ends in the 3-4 are meant to occupy blockers not pass rush (unless you're JJ Watt), so at 6'4" 315 pounds Wilkerson does just that.
Bilal Powell and Jeremy Kerley have shown they can be solid NFL players. Kerley isn't going to ever be a number one wide receiver, but he is a perfect guy for the slot. If Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill can stay healthy all year, the Jets should actually be formidable at the receiver position. Powell has has serviceable in spelling Shonn Greene and shows a good burst, ball security (one fumble; none lost) and ability to catch the ball. If he ever gets a chance to be the number one back, he should excel.
Greg McElroy isn't a game changer at quarterback but he isn't a bad backup either. He proved this year he can fill in if the top quarterback goes down, leading their Jets to their lone score late in a 7-6 comeback against the Arizona Cardinals.
Overall, the Jets drafted a lot of NFL level players in this draft and most of them have contributed in one way or another.
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Players Drafted: Kyle Wilson, Vladimir Ducasse, Joe McKnight, John Conner
All of the players above made the Jets' roster initially, but none have made much of a positive impact.
John Conner came to fame because of Hard Knocks, but after two seasons with the team he was let go.
Kyle Wilson was forced into starting duty when Darrelle Revis went down this past year, but so far hasn't shown that he is an impact corner in the NFL. He has struggled for much of his brief career, and looks to be nothing more than an average nickel corner.
Vladimir Ducasse has struggled to find playing time on the offensive line. He is definitely not fit to protect the blindside. Ducasse has also tried his luck at guard, but "Big Vlad" looks to be a lifetime backup.
Joe McKnight has been an effective kick returner, where he was a Pro Bowl alternate, returning two kicks for touchdowns in his three years. As a running back he has never really gotten a chance and actually played pretty well when he did. But he lost third-down duties to Powell and isn't an every-down back but he can be a decent third-down back.
This draft wasn't deep and hasn't showed much talent to give hope for the future. While all of them have seen the field, none have made much of an impact.
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Played Drafted: Mark Sanchez, Shonn Greene, Matt Slauson
Three picks, three starters.
The Jets traded up to get Mark Sanchez and two AFC Championship games later, it looked to be a good pick. While Sanchez never wowed anybody with his play, he was able to be successful as a game manager not making mistakes. After his brief success in the NFL, the last two years have been a nightmare for Sanchez.
His struggles ultimately resulted in his being benched this past year for McElroy last year. The Jets were able to get something out of Sanchez, but it wasn't what they were hoping for Ironically one of the picks the Jets traded to the Browns was then traded to the Buccaneers who wound up selecting Josh Freeman with it. Wouldn't Jet fans love to have him now?
The Jets also gave up three picks to choose Shonn Greene in the third round. While Greene has two 1,000 yard seasons under his belt, he hasn't had as much of an impact as his stats suggest. He isn't explosive, can't catch, doesn't break tackles and lacks vision. His longest run in four years has been 36 yards, unacceptable for a number-one running back. As long as he is in the backfield the Jets will remain an average team.
The third and final pick of the Jets in this draft was actually a good find. Matt Slauson has started 48 games in four years, providing the Jets with a reliable option at left guard.
As I said, the Jets got three starters in this draft, but none have been great. The fact that they gave up so much to pick these players brings the grade of this draft down. While the picks they gave away may not have made a significant impact, it definitely affected the depth of the team.
All in all, it could have been worse, but due to Sanchez's questionable future, it wasn't great.
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Players Drafted: Vernon Gholston, Dustin Keller, Dwight Lowery, Erik Ainge, Marcus Henry, Nate Garner
As a Jets fan, I honestly can't bear looking at this draft.
Vernon Gholston was the ultimate bust. No sacks, none, in three years. He played in 45 games and did not record a sack. It seems impossible to fail with the undeserved playing time he was given, but Gholston managed to do it.
Dustin Keller has wound up being a good pick, but he still struggles as a blocker. He has provided the Jets with solid production in his five years, but didn't to stay healthy in his contract year. It remains to be seen if he will be a Jet next season.
Dwight Lowery was progressing (five fumbles forced and 16 passes defensed in his rookie year) as a player, but the Jets wound up trading him to the Jacksonville Jaguars because they had a surplus of defensive backs. Lowery hasn't done anything since to make Jet fans long for him back.
If the Jets don't re-sign Keller, they won't have one player from this draft on their roster this upcoming season. The only reason I won't give them an F is because Keller has been a solid player and there is a good chance they bring him back. Even so, they're not getting much better of a grade.
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Players Drafted: Darrelle Revis, David Harris, Jacob Bender, Chansi Stuckey
The Jets really nailed this draft.
The were able to lock up two staples in their defense for years to come. While there was a lot of talent there wasn't much depth to it, a common occurrence in the Tannenbaum era.
Tannenbaum was hired in 2006. Look at every draft before and after. Besides the 2006 team which he inherited, he drafted more than six players only once in six years. His strategy was to trade up for, what he thought, were better players and fill the holes via free agency. Now you know why the Jets are in such bad shape on the field and in terms of the salary cap.
The Jets traded up to select Revis with the 14th pick and got an absolute superstar. Revis has been everything the Jets wanted and more. He has been an All-Pro three times, been selected to four Pro Bowls and was the AFC Defensive Player of the Year in 2009.
David Harris has also been stellar for the Jets. He hasn't made the impact Revis has, but has been a solid inside linebacker nonetheless. Harris isn't worth his overpriced contract, but that shouldn't take away from what he does on the field.
The rest of the draft was weak for the Jets, as both players are no longer with the team. Still, any draft that includes the best defensive player in the league deserves a good grade.
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Players Drafted: D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Nick Mangold, Kellen Clemens, Anthony Schlegel, Eric Smith, Brad Smith, Leon Washington, Jason Pociask, Drew Coleman, Titus Adams
This was Tannenbaum's first draft, and he really did do a good job with it. He built the offensive line around two All-Pros and found great special teams talent in the later rounds.
Mangold has been one of the best centers in the league since he was drafted. Ferguson has been overrated because of his early success and has really left Mark Sanchez out to dry at times. Of the two, Mangold is the much better one, but both are at least above average players.
Eric Smith has contributed over his years as a Jet, but has never been spectacular. Brad Smith and Leon Washington were both great special teams players who the Jets ultimately let go. They were solid Jets and made enough of an impact to warrant their selections.
Overall, this was a very deep draft. The Jets found two offensive line cornerstones and contributors at other key positions. They did strike out on some of their other picks but, because of the depth and the fact that they found two seven year starters on the line, I'll rank it up there with 2007.
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Players Drafted: Mike Nugent, Justin Miller, Sione Pouha, Kerry Rhodes, Andre Maddox, Cedric Houston, Joel Dreessen, Harry Williams
My first thought after seeing the first two picks was: Was this one worse than the Gholston draft?
To answer my own question, it wasn't worse than 2008. Nugent and Miller were second-round picks, Gholston was the sixth overall, a large discrepancy both on the board and in cap room.
Their next two selections saved their draft. Sione Pouha is still on the Jets and is the anchor of their defensive line. He was a really good pick up at the tail end of the third round.
Kerry Rhodes was also a good pick. When he was on the Jets he was one of the leaders of their defense being named to the All-Pro team in 2006. His bickering with the coaching staff spelled his ultimate doom as he was traded to the Cardinals after the 2009 season. Rhodes has remained productive in Arizona.
In terms of helping their own team, the Jets didn't do a great job. Pouha and Rhodes have helped at different times in their career, but the others didn't do much. Not as bad as the Gholston draft, but any time you draft a kicker in the second round, it can't be good.
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Players Drafted: Jonathan Vilma, Derrick Strait, Jerricho Cotchery, Adrian Jones, Erik Coleman, Marko Cavka, Darrell McClover, Trevor Johnson, Derrick Ward, Rashad Washington
The two players that stick out in this draft are Vilma and Cotchery. Vilma was the signal caller of the defense from the get-go, bringing home the Defensive Rookie of the Year Award in 2004. It was a shame when he was traded to New Orleans because of Eric Mangini's scheme change.
Jerricho Cotchery was also a key contributor to the Jets on offense. He never was a threat to run by defenders or make spectacular plays, but he was a consistent possession receiver. He made 358 catches for 4,514 yards in his career as a Jet.
Outside of that, there isn't much here. Erik Coleman was solid for his first two years on the Jets, but was later traded to Atlanta.
Derrick Ward never made the Jets team, but was signed by the Giants a few years later. He made a splash rushing for 1,000 yards in 2008, then signed a big contract with the Buccaneers the next year. It didn't work out.
The Jets picked two solid players in this draft. Both helped contribute to many Jets' victories over the years, but no one else made any noise as a Jet.
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Players Drafted: Dewayne Robertson, Victor Hobson, B.J. Askew, Derek Pagel, Matt Walters, Brooks Bollinger, Dave Yovanovits
Before there was Vernon Gholston, there was Dewayne Robertson.
Robertson had 14.5 sacks in his five years as a Jet, and was adversely affected by the Jets change to a 3-4 defense. That's still no excuse for the fourth overall pick to be out of the NFL six years later.
Victor Hobson started 57 games in his Jets career, compiling 343 tackles to go along with 11 sacks. BJ Askew was never more than a backup in his four year stint with the Jets.
Brooks Bollinger enjoyed a brief stint as a starter in 2005, but only saw action in the preseason besides that.
There were no impact players in this draft class, let alone very few contributors. Only Robertson and Hobson saw an extended amount of playing time, performing average at best when they were in there. Overall, a poor draft from top to bottom.