A collection of initial thoughts on the New York Jets 2011 draft class -
- They finally took a major step towards building their defensive line for the future with the selections of Muhammad Wilkerson and Kenrick Ellis. In an ideal world, the two of them and Mike DeVito would anchor the Jets 3-4 for the coming 5-7 years. Wilkerson should be a terrific player in this system and the Jets got excellent value with him. Ellis has potential but major character concerns and will obviously have a much harder time earning reps this season than Wilkerson.
- I am still a little surprised the Jets spent a fourth round pick on a running back. I am not sure the pick is a referendum on anybody currently on their depth chart. I just think they found Bilal Powell to be good value at that spot and liked his skill set. LaDainian Tomlinson is going to be gone after this season, so Powell should be able to develop into Shonn Greene's primary backup for the long term...that is if Greene develops into the lead back, the team is hoping for. You never know, Powell could be the number one back on opening day in 2012. For now, he should be a core special teams player and battle Joe McKnight for the limited reps behind Greene and Tomlinson.
- We knew the Jets would to address the receiver position and they did by selecting TCU's Jeremy Kerley and Mark Sanchez's buddy, Colorado's Scotty McKnight. Both players project more as slot receivers, with Kerley looking like a Brad Smith replacement, with his experience running the football and return ability. The guy had a knack for making big plays in college and finding the end-zone. McKnight will be a nice story and should have a pretty good chance of sticking on the roster if he can find a way to contribute on special teams.
- I was very happy to see the Jets decided to invest in a long term backup for Mark Sanchez at quarterback. Greg McElroy was a winner in college, who has terrific intangibles and sounds like he has the right mindset to come work into being the Jets long term #2 quarterback option.
- I was disappointed to see the Jets add no linebackers. They remain very thin at both the inside and outside position. Beyond that, they still haven't taken any steps to improve the pass rush coming from the outside linebacker position in the 3-4, by failing to find a heir apparent to Bryan Thomas, who could provide a boost on passing downs. Clearly, they have faith in Jamaal Westerman and Josh Mauga to develop into quality depth players who can contribute in some packages.
- The Jets also ignored their secondary, which would make you think they are confident that most of their free agents will be returning in that area. Don't forget Antonio Cromartie, Drew Coleman, Eric Smith, James Ihedigbo, and Brodney Pool all need new contracts.