<
>

Jets draft preview: Special teams

This is the sixth part in a nine-part, position-by-position analysis, breaking down team needs and draft possibilities.

Position: Special teams

Depth chart: PK -- Nick Folk; P -- T.J. Conley, Travis Baltz; PR -- Jeremy Kerley, Joe McKnight; KR -- Joe McKnight, Antonio Cromartie; LS -- Tanner Purdum.

Not Under Contract: N/A

Scouting Report: There are no sacred cows here, especially among the kickers. Obviously, Folk will go into camp as the favorite to win the job, but the plan is to make it a legitimate competition. Folk was pushed last training camp by Nick Novak, who wound up with the Chargers, and the Jets believe the competition brought out the best in Folk. Statistically, it was an average year for Folk, whose length on kickoffs faded as the year went on. Conley, in a first full season as an NFL punter, averaged only 42.7 (gross) and 38.8 (net). The deficiencies were more glaring in light of ex-Jet Steve Weatherford's success with the Giants. In the return game, McKnight established himself as one of the most dangerous players in the league on kickoffs. Kerley showed promise as a punt returner, albeit with a couple of hiccups. The special teams have to cure the butter fingers -- six turnovers last season.

The Last Time: In 2005, the Jets used a second-round pick on PK Mike Nugent, who couldn't stay healthy and landed with the Bengals. He revived his career and was given the franchise tag this offseason.

Potential Targets: Coordinator Mike Westhoff said at the combine this is one the best groups of special teamers he's seen in a long time. The Jets have six picks in the final two rounds and they'd have no problem using one on a leg. They've expressed interest in P Brian Stahovich (San Diego State), who is regarded as borderline draftable. He was a four-year starter who averaged 43.8 gross last season. The top punter is Drew Butler (Georgia), the son of former Bears PK Kevin Butler. Drew won the Ray Guy Award in '09; he's definitely worth a late-round pick. The highest-rated PK is Blair Walsh, who has a lot of leg talent but struggled as a senior -- only 21 of 35 on FGs. This will be a critical draft for special teams. With so many late picks, it's a chance to add run-and-hit players -- i.e. linebackers, safeties, backs and tights ends -- to bolster the return and coverage units.

Need Rating (on a scale of 1 to 10): 6

Next: Defensive line