by Tommy Lawlor – ScoutsNotebook.com
NEW YORK JETS
1 – CB Kyle Wilson – Boise State
2 – OL Vlad Ducasse – UMass
4 – RB Joe McKnight – USC
5 – FB John Conner – Kentucky
This is what happens when you make a lot of trades that involve your picks. You have quiet drafts. The Jets don’t seem too concerned with balancing out young players vs old. Rex Ryan and Mike Tannenbaum are focused on adding the best players, age be damned. That kind of thinking can be dangerous if it happens too many years in a row. For now, the Jets are in good shape.
Most people thought the Jets would focus on DE, S, or LB in the 1st round. They passed on those spots and scooped up CB Kyle Wilson from Boise. There was some talk about Wilson going as high as the Top 10. I never bought that. Rex Ryan said after the draft that his brother Rob wanted the Browns to take Kyle with the #7 overall pick. That didn’t happen. And with good reason.
I loved watching Kyle Wilson this season. I was a big fan of his all year. He just isn’t worth the 7th overall pick. Kyle is very good at everything, but isn’t great in any way. You only take a CB that high if there is something unbelievably compelling about him. Kyle was worth a pick in the 20-30 range, which is where he went. I think he’ll be a good pro for a long time. You just have to be realistic about value.
The good news for Kyle is that he is a perfect fit for the Jets and he gets to be part of an outstanding defense. He excels in man coverage and that is how the Jets will use him. They did already have Darrelle Revis and had already dealt for Antonio Cromartie, but Kyle was too good to pass on. Cromartie isn’t signed long term and has enough issues that the team may have serious reservations about committing to him financially in a big way. Wilson gives them a great option. The NFL is now a league where you need 3 CBs that have starting potential. The Jets are good to go in that area.
In the 2nd round they once again got lucky. OL Vlad Ducasse fell all the way to pick 61. There was one time when we wondered if he might sneak into the late 1st. To get him at the bottom of the 2nd is great value. The Jets cut OG Alan Faneca and Ducasse will have a shot to get his starting spot. Vlad played mostly LT in college, but has the size and skill set to be a good OG. He is about 6’5 and goes in the 330 range. Vlad loves to run block. He’s powerful and feisty.
Adjusting from I-AA football to the NFL will be tough on Ducasse. Luckily he will line up between LT D’Brickashaw Ferguson and OC Nick Mangold. They are outstanding players and will help Vlad with his transition to the NFL. Pass protection will be the biggest challenge. Vlad isn’t out on the edge, but dealing with athletic DTs and blitzers isn’t a walk in the park. Pad level becomes crucial. Vlad also has to focus on his inside leg now. Better to get beat to the outside than the inside when you play OG.
Next up…RB Joe McKnight, 4th round. At some point in the past we figured McKnight would turn into an elite runner and be a 1st round pick. He did some special things from time to time. He also had some problems. Joe struggled to stay healthy, despite not being a workhorse back. That hurts your value. A RB can have all the talent in the world, but durability is almost as critical a factor. Jets fans know this as well as anyone. Freeman McNeil was very gifted and always appeared on the cusp of greatness back in the 80s. He just couldn’t stay completely healthy. He only played in 16 games twice in his 12 year career.
McKnight won’t have that kind of pressure on him. He joins a backfield with Shonn Greene as the expected starter and some guy named Tomlinson in the mix as well. Joe ideally will just be the 3rd down back initially and they can figure where he fits in the lineup from there. McKnight was good value in the 4th round. One of the reasons he fell was character concerns. Joe wanted to stay at USC for his Senior year, but the NCAA was checking him out and he feared getting suspended. Joe absolutely has the talent to be a good NFL player. He’s got to stay focused and on the field. If so, he could thrive in a rotational setting. The Jets liked McKnight enough to trade up for him so this wasn’t just a case of taking a guy who fell. They wanted him.
The final pick is FB John Conner, aka The Terminator. If you don’t get that nickname…I can’t help you. Conner is a complete FB. He can run, catch, and block. He’ll sit behind Tony Richardson for a year at least, but Conner has the potential to be a good FB in the NFL. He is 5’11, 250. That’s a squatty, powerful build. He’s nimble as a runner and has pretty good hands. With the Jets he’ll likely be used mostly as a lead blocker. That should be okay with Conner. He seems like the kind of player that will do the dirty work and be happy about it. In other words, he’s a true Fullback. He could be a good STer if active on gamedays.
There is no question that the Jets have more talent than they did when they lost the AFC title game. I do have serious concerns about the chemistry of the team. Last year a lot of little things went right and the team enjoyed being the underdog. This year the Jets have a bullseye painted on them and they will be public enemy No. 1 in the AFC East, even beyond the Pats. Rex Ryan will continue to write checks with his mouth that his players have to cash. At some point that will bite him in the butt. How will the team handle things? Character players like Alan Faneca and Thomas Jones are gone. You now have a locker room full of mercenaries and vagabonds. If things fall into place the Jets will be a ton of fun to follow, but if a few key things go awry it could be a long year in the new stadium.
Here is the NFL.com draft tracker for the Jets.