New York Jets 2011 Preview: 5 Rookies Set to Make an Impact This Season
The Jets' consecutive losses in AFC Championship games shows progress from past years, but also illustrates the need for some slight roster changes.
Management used the 2011 NFL Draft to solidify the roster, and if New York is to be considered a true title contender, these draft picks better pan out.
Here are a few rookies who should excite the Gang Green faithful.
5. Scotty McKnight
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
With their final pick of the 2011 NFL Draft, the Jets selected wide receiver Scotty McKnight. McKnight is quick, hard-working and could develop into a decent slot receiver.
With the Jets' current depth at the position, it may take time for McKnight to earn his touches, but his future is bright. The team's current slot receiver, Derrick Mason, is 37 and will be a free agent at the end of the season.
A longtime friend of quarterback Mark Sanchez, McKnight will likely have a future in New York. Look for McKnight in the Jets' wildcat offense.
4. Bilal Powell
New York's fourth-round pick, Bilal Powell, is an explosive running back.
In his senior season at Louisville, he rushed for over 1400 yards and 11 touchdowns—including the one featured in the video above.
Powell will have to earn his spot because the Jets have two established backs: LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene. Still, Powell has impressed the coaching staff and has pretty good speed (4.58 40m dash).
While he is no Leon Washington, Jets fans everywhere will hope to see Powell fill the role of the exciting running back wearing the #29 jersey.
3. Kenrick Ellis
In the third round, the Jets drafted 6'5" 346-pound defensive tackle Kenrick Ellis.
Ellis will not start right away, but he has shown progress through the preseason and will likely log a decent amount of minutes in the regular season.
He will help the Jets' run defense considerably because of his size. Ellis, a former high school basketball player, is athletic for a defensive tackle.
With his off-the-field troubles seemingly behind him, the future is bright for Ellis.
Expect to see a lot of him in the 2011 season and in the future for the New York Jets.
2. Jeremy Kerley
Kerley, a wide receiver and returner, has probably had the most hype throughout this offseason. Taken by the Jets in the fifth round—a pick they traded up for—Kerley possesses a rare blend of athleticism and elusiveness.
This pick proved wise after the departure of wide receiver/kick returner/playmaker Brad Smith. There are high hopes for Kerley in the Jets system. After all, Smith was relatively unknown until he took the playmaker role after Leon Washington left.
Special Teams coach Mike Westhoff and Offensive Coordinator Brian Schottenheimer made Smith's transition smooth and will likely have similar results with Kerley.
If all works as planned, Kerley should be a familiar name to every Jets fan at the end of the season.
1. Muhammad Wilkerson
With the 30th overall pick, the Jets took Muhammad Wilkerson. Wilkerson will start at defensive end and try to fill the void there after Shaun Ellis signed with the Patriots.
Questions swirl about the competition Wilkerson faced during his time at Temple, but he is young and athletic and should be a playmaker in no time.
Also, Wilkerson has experience in the 3-4 style defense that the Jets play.
Wilkerson will be an impact player this season for the Jets. He will help them get to the next level by stopping the run and rushing the passer.
It should be an exciting season to be a Jets fan.