New York Jets 2010 NFL Draft Needs Assessment

New York Jets 2010 NFL Draft Needs Assessment
M.D. Wright

***EDITOR’S NOTE: As the 2009 NFL Season comes to a close, it is time to look toward the 2010 season and see what each team needs as we go forward. As you may have notice, I wasted no time in compiling the Giants’ needs in the draft and/or free agency, as the needs defensively are many, but the Jets’ situation is much clearer. Eventually, each team will have a Needs Assessment and Mock Draft completed by April 22, 2010 in this column.

The Jets had a very successful 2009 season and run in the 2010 playoffs. They hope to only build off the success they’ve attained with rookie QB Mark Sanchez, a stellar rushing attack and the best defense in the NFL. As all teams do, the Jets do have a couple of positions they’d like to have filled through the 2010 NFL Draft or free agency starting June 1, 2010.

The Jets feature Mark Sanchez and Kellen Clemens (of note) at this position. Clemens is not even a serviceable backup at this point, so the Jets are hanging their hopes for the future on Sanchez’s ability. For the most part, all things considered, he lived up to expectations as a rookie and even exceeded a few. Erik Ainge is only in the NFL because of his uncle. If absolutely necessary, Brad Smith (although listed as a WR) can fill in. The Jets don’t really need help here.

Thomas Jones will be 32 next season. The Jets pulled off a shrewd move that proved to be catalytic in their run (no pun) into the NFL playoffs this year. They traded away a 1st and 3rd round pick to move up and select RB Shonn Greene in the 2009 NFL Draft. Greene stepped up and played a major role for the Jets when RB Leon Washington was lost for the season with a gruesome leg injury halfway through the season. If Washington is able to make it back close to full strength by the end of next season, the Jets should be fine at RB for a few years. Jones may start to decline a bit in 2010 (although I personally hope not — he’s been one of my guys since he was at UVa). Having Washington back will also affect their Seminole Offense (an offshoot of the Wildcat craze of the past two seasons).

How much longer can Tony Richardson play? He’s almost 40, but he’s still one of the few FBs left in the NFL who matter and actually produces for the guys he blocks for.

Tight End
The Jets are pretty much set here, They have two young and athletic guys in Dustin Keller and Ben Hartsock. They are good receivers and blockers, respectively and serve as a safety valve for young Mark Sanchez.

Wide Receiver
When you look at the Jets with a personnel’s eye, you initially think no one stands out. No one is more than a “B” receiver or a 2nd fiddle on any other team. Even after acquiring WR Braylon Edwards — a player with superstar ABILITY, but has yet to put together more than one season that approached such skills — the Jets do not feature an explosive passing game. To be fair, offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer placed reigns on Sanchez to cut down on his gaudy turnover statistics midway through the 2009 season. Edwards is new to the Jets’ system and all those facts combined prove that the Jets SHOULD get better QB to WR. However, they could definitely use another speed guy. David Clowney may prove to be that guy, Edwards will attract more attention next year and Cotchery is a good possession type receiver. Danny Woodhead and Wallace Wright are backups and special teams players only. Brad Smith doubles as a Wildcat option.

Offensive Line
The Jets’ lines — both offensive and defensive are very good — the offensive line may be the best in the NFL, as they are active and run/pass block equally well. D’Brickashaw Ferguson improved vastly the past yaer, Nick Mangold is probably the best Center in the AFC, Alan Faneca still gets it done, pulling and everything — at age 33; but linemen can play until they’re 40 nowadays. Brandon Moore is a road grader and a solid all around guard. Damien Woody looks disinterested at times, but his play doesn’t show it.

Defensive Line
DE Shaun Ellis is getting up there in age, but he had a very good 2009 season. DT Kris Jenkins is also getting up in age, and was pivotal in the Jets’ early success versus the run. Sione Pouha played decently down the stretch. Marques Douglas played well, although the unit as a whole seemingly played over its head, in my opinion.

The Jets’ strength defensively is their linebacking corps. They are deep and make plays all over the field. They tackle well and don’t allow many plays to get behind them. All but Vernon Gholston, who still doesn’t seem to know how to play NFL football. David Harris is the unheralded leader of the group. A poor man’s (healthy) Jon Beason, if you will. Bart Scott is the vocal leader and made tons of plays for the Jets all season, as did Calvin Pace. Bryan Thomas rounded out their starting unit. There are questions about depth, given that the Jets feature a 3-4 alignment, because the aforementioned Gholston, a former first round pick, has done exactly nothing since being drafted. The rest of their unit is unproven.

Defensive Secondary
Darrelle Revis is the best CB in the NFL. HANDS.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, the Jets probably want to shore up their secondary a bit. While Kerry Rhodes returned to form late in the season after doing more talking than playing earlier on, after that, the Jets have holes back there. They need a bona fide cover man opposite Revis. Both Lito Sheppard and Dwight Lowery looked like Kevin Smith opposite Deion Sanders in Dallas circa 1995-1998 many times this year. Sure, this is mostly because teams fear passing at Revis more and more with each passing game, but Lowery’s technique and coverage skills are deplorable. Jim Leonhard is a ballhawk, and while he is undersized, he knows head coach Rex Ryan’s scheme from Baltimore. Erik Smith is a backup at safety. Donald Strickland and the other guys who rarely saw the field are nothing special.

Place Kicker
K Jay Feely’s missed FGs were disturbing, but he is only one of a half dozen kickers who were as unclutch as possible this postseason ALONE. Feely has otherwise been dependable.

Steve Weatherford was reminded of a heart condition that he has, and while punting duties are trivial with respect to the rest of the game of football, there is still a risk there. However, there are enough free agent punters that if the Jets needed, they could draw upon rather than using a draft pick to acquire a player in the upcoming draft.

3rd Round: FULLBACK
7th Round: SAFETY

The Jets don’t have any GLARING holes that will kill them. They need another season together with continuity in the same systems offensively and defensively and they will be fine. No sophomore slump by Mark Sanchez is expected.

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