Saturday, April 24, 2010

Meet your 2010 New York Jets Draft Class

Wow. Oversleep and you miss a lot. It took Mike Tannenbaum until the third day to live up to his nickname of "Trader Mike," but what happened on day three of the draft was the most shocking of all.

Alan Faneca is gone. Leon Washington is gone. In their places are two new runningbacks.

After trading for Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes within 7 months, people wondered if Rex Ryan still believed in ground and pound. This draft clearly shows yes, even if it's not in the way anyone expected.

#29. Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State
Wilson offers a perfect skillset to step in as nickel back right away. Cromartie and Revis will start out wide, and Wilson will cover the shiftier third receivers that have become so common. Hopefully, we won't see Drew Coleman and Dwight Lowery seeing extensive time in the playoffs anymore. Wilson also provides insurance in case Cromartie doesn't live up to his potential. Value met need here, and it was a great pick.

#61. Vladimir Ducasse, OL, Massaschusssets
Meet your new starting left guard (most likely). With the release of veteran Alan Faneca, Ducasse probably has the inside track of starting in his place, but he'll battle Matt Slauson and Robert Turner. Ducasse is a big, athletic player who fits in at either left guard or right tackle, and if he's not starting this year, you can expect him to take over right tackle for Damien Woody next year.

#112. Joe McKnight, RB, USC
Now, it starts to get interesting. The Jets gave their 4th and 6th round picks to move up in round 4 to secure McKnight. This is when the Leon Washington talk intensified. McKnight has speed, explosiveness, and elite pass catching ability. Sound familiar? McKnight was the #1 high school prospect in America by some when he left for USC. He never fully lived up to the promise, but as a complement to Shonn Greene, his role is perfect.

#139. John Conner, FB, Kentucky
The Jets traded up in round four for a halfback, and now they traded up into round 5 for a fullback. Except this time the price was Leon Washington and a 7th round pick. People questioned if Washington would remain a Jet. Few thought his price tag was so low. Fittingly, Conner's nickname is the Terminator, as his arrival ended Washington's tenure, his crunching blocks crush opponents, and his name fits perfectly. Conner very well may be the next Tony Richardson. He's listed as the best blocker in the draft, and while he's limited elsewhere, Conner will be able to pick off where Richardson left off when he rides off into the sunset.

So a four pick draft for Gang Green, and it costs them Washington and Conner. After day one, I was ecstatic. After day two, I was still pleased. Now? It's taking a lot for all of this to sink in. The players are great fits, but what about the defensive line? The Jets could have kept Washington and Faneca and tried to add to their current team rather than try to win and rebuild at the same time. They deemed Washington too much of an injury risk and Faneca as the weak link in the offensive line, so they were proactive moving them. It still was a shocker to see Leon go.

Now, Ducasse, McKnight, and Conner are all part of the offensive future for the Jets. By 2011, all should have key roles on the Jets. You have to hand it to the team as they're not resting on their laurels and trying to get better and better. But they failed to address the front seven once in the entire draft. Right now, Mike DeVito and Shaun Ellis are your starting defensive ends. While that isn't a bad thing, I might expect the Jets to take a look back at Marques Douglas to try to resign him. After all, they had the number one defense in the league starting him. The addition of Jason Taylor probably takes care of the need for a pass rusher right away, but it's still surprising not seeing one young defensive end or linebacker being groomed in this draft. Then again, the lack of selection could mean the Jets are moving Vernon Gholston down to lineman in the 3-4 to try to salvage something from his career.

The Jets will now monitor the waiver wire to fill out their roster. The only holes that remain seem to be at backup quarterback, #2 tight end, maybe left guard, defensive line depth, and possibly a pass rusher.

What do I give the Jets in this draft? A solid B+. All four players will be key contributors in the future. The draft did cost Leon Washington, but remember, it also brought in Santonio Holmes. Wilson and Ducasse were both great value, and McKnight and Conner fit the Jets style like a glove. But ignoring the front seven on defense is why this draft can't go any higher than that. Plus, it's only a four man draft, so there's very little margin for error.

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