- Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer
- 0 Shares
They say it takes three to five years to accurately judge a draft class, but we're going to do it 24 hours after the fact because that's our job.
For my grades on each individual pick, click here.
Final Grade: B.
Summary: It went pretty much as expected. You knew they were going to address the defense early in the draft, and they did, selecting DE Muhammad Wilkerson and NT Kenrick Ellis in the first and third rounds, respectively. Wide receiver was a need, and the Jets tabbed Jeremy Kerley (fifth) and Scotty McKnight (seventh) -- a pair of slot receivers. GM Mike Tannenbaum always is on the look-out for developmental quarterbacks, which explains Greg McElroy. The only curveball was RB Bilal Powell in the fourth round (another runner?), but the Jets felt there was too much value to ignore him. OK, we'll buy that.
Except for McKnight, who wasn't in Scouts, Inc.'s top 316 players, each player went off the board in the round/area where he was projected. Based on that, you'd have to say the Jets got good value. They didn't address perhaps their biggest need, rush linebacker. They passed on Akeem Ayers, Jabaal Sheard and Brooks Reed to take Wilkerson, but that was the right call. Ayers and Reed, in particular, received a lot of pre-draft hype, but they each have holes in their games. After them, all the good OLBs were gone. In fact, there were no OLBs taken from 74 to 99, which helps explain why they took Ellis at 94.
Best pick: Wilkerson. At 6-4, 315, he has the size to be a two-gapping force in Rex Ryan's defense. He was an outstanding pass rusher at Temple, but there are scouts who wonder how his pass-rushing skills will translate to the NFL. It'll be interesting to see if he's a three-down player. We do know he's a versatile player, with the ability to play DE, DT and maybe NT in certain packages. There was some talk that he could go as high as 18; the Jets got him at 30. Very good value.
Most questionable pick: Ellis. The Jets' top scout said they felt there were only two true nose tackles in the draft -- Ellis and Phil Taylor (chosen 21st). That speaks volumes; Ellis was their last chance to address that need. At No. 94, the Jets felt he was worth the gamble, even with his off-the-field issues, including a pending assault charge. But it's interesting to note that, between picks 30 and 94, a total of six defensive tackles were picked. Six teams with a DT need took a pass on Ellis. He has incredible size (6-5, 340) and intriguing tools, and he plays hard (a lot of nose tackles don't), but he's still a small-school player with risk.
Picks most likely to contribute as rookies: Wilkerson probably won't start, but he will be in the defensive-line rotation. If Brad Smith leaves via free agency, Kerley will be a candidate to step into the kick returner/No. 4 WR role. Ellis, if exonerated, will need time to develop. Powell, McElroy and McKnight will have to wait their turn.
Remaining needs: Outside linebacker and safety. The Jets will be OK at safety if they can re-sign Brodney Pool or Eric Smith, but OLB is a concern. The free-agent market is weak, and the Jets could be restricted by the "Final Four" rules. Tannenbaum may have to make a trade or pick up a player cut by another team.