NFL Draft 2011: What Jets' Draft Means for LaDainian Tomlinson and Other Vets

Cole TesslerCorrespondent IMay 1, 2011

NFL Draft 2011: What Jets' Draft Means for LaDainian Tomlinson and Other Vets

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    The Jets have some tough decisions to make now that the 2011 draft is over.

    They currently have 13 players entering free agency and have to make key choices on who to keep and who to cut ties with in order to keep players like Antonio Cromartie, Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes.

    Many of these draft picks impact key veterans such as LaDainian Tomlinson, as many people are now questioning his future since the Jets drafted running back Bilal Powell.

    Here are most of the Jets' draft picks like Powell and how they will effect key veterans on the team like Tomlinson.

Muhammed Wilkerson and Shaun Ellis

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    The Jets sent a pretty clear message to Shaun Ellis when they drafted Muhammad Wilkerson with the 30th pick.

    They're moving on.

    Ellis has spent all of his 11 seasons with the Jets, but the Jets need more production from the defensive line. Since Ellis' stats dropped last year from 6.5 sacks to 4.5 sacks this year and 53 tackles last year to 36 this year, the Jets maybe looking to part ways with the two-time Pro Bowler.

    Wilkerson is a great pass-rusher who racked up 9.5 sacks at Temple last season. The Jets are in great need of a defensive linemen who can provide pressure on quarterbacks and Wilkerson could very will be that player.

    With all the expensive players the Jets want to keep, they can't afford to keep anyone aging like Ellis. There is still a chance that they might keep him as a backup since they are pretty thin, but expect Ellis and the Jets to part ways in the offseason.

Kendrick Ellis and Sione Pouha

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    Sione Pouha is a solid starter at the nose tackle position and was able to step in when Kris Jenkins was injured the last two seasons and have solid numbers.

    But Rex Ryan doesn't want a solid team—he wants the best of the best—so with Kris Jenkins cut, the Jets drafted Kendrick Ellis out of Hampton.

    Kendrick Ellis is pretty much a younger, non-injury prone, durable Kris Jenkins.

    Ellis is a tremendous run-stuffer, a great pass-rusher, has excellent strength and is able to draw the double-team like Jenkins did. He is 20 pounds heavier the Pouha and seems like a better fit for the Rex Ryan's defensive schemes.

    Expect Pouha to start the first couple of games, as Ellis does come from a Division 1-AA school. The last player the the Jets drafted to do that was Vladimir Ducasse last year, who had trouble adjusting to the pro level.

    It should take Ellis a little less time to adjust to the pro level, so watch out for him next season. 

Bilal Powell and LaDainian Tomlinson

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    For the second year in a row, the Jets used their fourth-round pick on a running back when they drafted Louisville's Bilal Powell.

    This pick raised some eyebrow's as the Jets already have three running backs and have publicly stated that they are keeping aging veteran LaDainian Tomlinson.

    The Jets probably aren't going to keep four backs, and Powell's skills matches a lot of Tomlinson's. One example is he is a great pass-catcher, which was one of Tomlinson's main roles last year.

    It's not looking good for Tomlinson, as the Jets are looking to make Shonn Greene their feature back next year. Also, the Jets probably won't want to cut ties with their investment in backup Joe McKnight.

    The Jets would love to keep Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards and Antonio Cromartie, and if ditching Tomlinson would help them do that, then I think the Jets will definitely cut Tomlinson in the offseason.

    There's still a chance Tomlinson stays, though. After all, the Jets did publicly say they were keeping him. Also, Powell only started one full season—before his senior year, he only started five games. This could scare the Jets, as they need a reliable second back to Greene since McKnight probably isn't ready to be one.

    Overall, I think there's a 60 percent chance the Jets cut Tomlinson in the offseason.

Jeremy Kerley and Brad Smith

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    With their fifth-round selection, the Jets drafted TCU's Jeremy Kerley. This raised some questions for Brad Smiths future, as one of Kerley's strengths are kick returning and punt returning and  Smith is a free agent.

    With Brad Smith's future is in question now with the Jets, will they let him go?

    Well, the Jets did moved up eight spots to get to get Kerley. They both are pretty similar as they have a variety ways to hurt you. As TCU's co-offensive coordinator, Jarrett Anderson told ESPN.com last December.

    "Obviously he is incredible at change of direction. He's not afraid to go over the middle and make the tough catch. He's got great ball skills, all those sorts of things, which adds a great element that we can sit in the staff room and say, what do we want to do today with Jeremy?"

    That sounds a lot like Smith.

    But Brad Smith was second in the league in kickoff return average with 28.6 yards a return and was very valuable in the Seminole formation with his threat to also pass.

    Sometimes in free agency you have to cut ties with players you want to keep, so I think there is about a 50/50 chance Brad Smith stays or goes.

Greg McElroy and Kellen Clemens

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    Kellen Clemens probably should've started packing his bags once he heard Greg McElroy's name in the draft.

    Clemens has been in the backup role for the Jets since he was drafted in the second round in 2006. He was the third-string quarterback last year and served little importance.

    McElroy should be a solid backup for the Jets and learn the system quick.

    Expect the Jets to axe Clemens to save some money.