Commentary

Grading the Jets' 2011 draft

It's never too early to give you our take on who's new in Gang Green

Originally Published: April 23, 2010
By Rich Cimini | ESPNNewYork.com


Muhammad Wilkerson, DT, Temple
Round 1, 30th pick

Analysis: Muhammad Wilkerson was projected to be drafted in the 18-to-26 range, so the Jets received good value at 30. He also addresses a need. The Jets' defensive line is thin and old, with only one experienced player under 30 -- Mike DeVito. Wilkerson (6-4, 315) has the size you want in a 3-4 defensive end, and he has enough athleticism to rush as a tackle in nickel situations. He's not the most polished player and he needs a kick in the rear every now and then, but he has a lot of upside. Wilkerson, from Linden, N.J., recorded 17 1/2 sacks in three seasons at Temple. He dominated against some bad teams, but he also played well against Penn State. As one rival GM said, "When you're picking that low in the first round, it's not a beauty pageant."


Kenrick Ellis, NT, Hampton
Round 3, 30th pick (No. 94 overall)

Analysis: Yes, he has talent -- he was rated 36th on the Jets' draft board -- but Ellis is facing up to 20 years in prison for felony assault in Newport News, Va. He reportedly will go on trial July 12 for allegedly attacking a person on campus last April. According to reports, he broke the person's jaw and nose when the person tried to attack him with a baseball bat. Previously, Ellis flunked multiple drug tests while attending South Carolina, according to a league source familiar with his background. This is the ultimate risk-reward pick. The Jets have succeeded with several players that arrived with off-the-field issues, but this appears to be an extreme case. He'll never get a chance to fulfill his immense potential if he's in the slammer.


Bilal Powell, RB, Louisville
Round 4, 29th pick (No. 126 overall)

Analysis: A curious pick, considering the Jets' depth at running back. Clearly, they felt Powell's value was too good to pass up, but it creates questions because they have four tailbacks -- Shonn Greene, LaDainian Tomlinson, Joe McKnight and Powell. Can they keep everybody? Can they keep everybody happy? After three non-descript seasons at Louisville, Powell exploded last year, rushing for 1,405 yards, a 6.1 average and 11 touchdowns. He doesn't have exceptional speed (4.52 in the 40), but he has good vision and fights for extra yards. He tends to run upright, exposing himself to big hits. Some scouts believe his best football is yet to come. Not much experience as a kick returner. Powell considers himself a good receiver, but his production was modest.


Jeremy Kerley, WR/PR, TCU
Round 5, 22nd pick (No. 153 overall)

Analysis: Trader Mike Tannenbaum finally made a deal, moving up eight spots to grab the diminutive receiver (5-9, 188). This pick has Mike Westhoff's fingerprints all over it. Kerley returned kickoffs and punts in college (he was better as a punt returner), and the Jets have been looking for a productive punt returner for years. Kerley isn't super fast (4.59 in the 40), but he's quick and accelerates well. As receiver, he'll have to work out of the slot because of his size. His receiving numbers at TCU were ordinary -- 120 catches, 1,299 and 12 touchdowns over four seasons. The Jets need to be mindful of their depth at receiver, with Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards and Brad Smith headed to free agency.


Greg McElroy, QB, Alabama
Round 7, 5th pick (No. 208 overall)

Analysis: Hey, why not? The Jets have a huge gap on their quarterback depth chart -- an entrenched Mark Sanchez as the starter, but no one coming up behind him to be the long-term No. 2. Old-timer Mark Brunell will stick around for one more year as the primary backup, but that role will go to McElroy in 2012 -- at least that's the Jets' plan. McElroy (24-3 as a starter at Alabama) is a proven winner with scary football intelligence. He sounds like a TV analyst when discussing the nuances of his game. The question is, does he have enough arm? He can't make all the throws and he's not particularly mobile -- usually not a good combination for a backup. Clearly, the Jets are betting on his intangibles. GM Mike Tannenbaum subscribes to the Ron Wolf philosophy when it comes to quarterbacks -- try to pick one every year when possible and see how they develop.


Scotty McKnight, WR, Colorado
Round 7, 24th pick (No. 227 overall)

Analysis: It helps to know people in the right places. McKnight and Jets QB Mark Sanchez have been close friends since their boyhood days in Mission Viejo, Calf. Most NFL types didn't think McKnight would be drafted, but he received an assist from Sanchez, who threw to McKnight during his Pro Day workout last month. McKnight (5-11, 182) doesn't blow you away with his size or speed (4.49 in the 40), but he's a producer. He is Colorado's all-time leading receiver, coming off a 50-catch, 621-yard season. He has terrific hands and superb short-area quickness. McKnight has a lot of Wayne Chrebet-type traits, and it's probably safe to say he has good chemistry with Sanchez.


Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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