2011 NFL Draft: NY Jets Improve D-Line, Add Offensive Skills
The biggest need for the New York Jets entering the 2011 NFL Draft was improving their defensive pass rush. Were they able to accomplish this goal?
With only six picks in the entire seven round draft, the Jets got right to work on filling their needs. With their first round selection, 30th overall, the Jets selected Temple defensive lineman Muhammed Wilkerson. The massive New Jersey native can play defensive end or tackle depending on the scheme used. Since Gang Green generally runs a 3-4 defense, Wilkerson will be on the end.
For a man weighing in at 6-4, 315 pounds, Wilkerson brings tremendous speed, strength, and athleticism to the football field. He is one of those players which opposing quarterbacks will fear. Wilkerson fills a major need for the Jets and could be one of those pieces that get the Jets to the next level. Forget that he comes from a small conference in college football, this guy is a freak.
With no second round pick, the Jets had to wait until the third round (94th overall) to make their second selection. Another small school defensive lineman, Kenrick Ellis was the pick. Ellis is a 6-5, 346 pound defensive tackle out of Hampton.
Ellis has the potential to very quickly become the anchor of the Jets 3-4 defense. He will play inside at the nose tackle position and be tough to handle. Many compare him to Kris Jenkins when he was in his prime. Ellis, like Wilkerson, plays with a mean streak. Jets head coach Rex Ryan will love these to new defensive additions.
With their final four picks, the Jets took a running back, a quarterback, and two wide receivers. All could be nice pieces to the puzzle for New York, but the selection of a running back is some what puzzling.
Gang Green selected Bilal Powell, a running back from Louisville, in the fourth round. Powell will provide depth to an already solid backfield that consists of Shonn Greene, LaDainian Tomlinson, and Joe McKnight. Powell is a pass catching back with very good vision and burst. While it’s a decent pick, it does leave you scratching your head just a bit. Why take a running back? And, if you wanted a back, Jacquizz Rodgers out of Oregon State was still available.
In the fifth round the Jets added TCU wide receiver Jeremy Kerley. While not a great receiver, Kerley could be the replacement for free agent Brad Smith. If Smith does not return, the Jets would have a big hole to fill in the return game. Kerley would likely be the guy.
With their first of two picks in the seventh round, the Jets grabbed Greg McElroy, a quarterback out of Alabama. McElroy will fit perfectly in the backup QB role for New York. Having played for Alabama head coach Nick Saban, McElroy is ready for the NFL. He is one of the smartest quarterbacks in the draft and will be a film guru. He may have some question marks as far as arm strength and what not, but there is something to say about a QB knowing the playbook and having a strong football IQ.
Apparently starting quarterback Mark Sanchez needs a friend. With the Jets final pick of the draft, they selected Colorado wide receiver Scotty McKnight. With some talented players still available, the Jets reached a bit for this pick. McKnight is a guy that could have been signed as an undrafted free agent, especially knowing his friendship with Sanchez going all the way back to their high school days.
McKnight is small, but does have decent speed and comes off a very good career at Colorado. When things get tough, at least he will have an old friend that has been through it all.
Overall, the Jets had an average draft. Their first two selections were excellent, adding some serious defensive talent. Guys that can help immediately and potentially get the Jets to the next level. After those picks however, it seems as though they reached for the rest, except for McElroy.
Reviewing the entire draft of the New York Jets, I would give them a C+ to B- grade.
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