Commentary

Jets trade up to get USC's McKnight

Updated: April 25, 2010, 1:00 AM ET
By Rich Cimini | ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- With his first trade of the 2010 draft, Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum shook up his backfield by moving up to select USC running back Joe McKnight. That move raised serious questions about Leon Washington's future with the team.

Then Tannenbaum quickly answered those questions, by trading Washington to the Seahawks for a fifth-round pick.

The Jets traded up 12 spots in the fourth round to take McKnight with the 112th overall selection. McKnight (5-foot-11, 198 pounds), good value at that spot, is a multi-purpose back, a la Washington. McKnight rushed for 1,014 yards and eight touchdowns last season, adding another 1,251 yards on punt and kickoff returns. Scouts say he's a versatile and fluid athlete with the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, making him a candidate to be the third-down back.

The Jets traded with the Panthers to get the 112th overall selection. It cost them their fourth-round pick (124) and their sixth-rounder (198).

With the fifth-round choice obtained in the Washington trade, the Jets selected Kentucky fullback John Conner, a 5-11, 240-pound masher. This is a "future" pick for the Jets. Presumably, Conner will learn at the side of Tony Richardson, 38, the wise locker-room sage who can teach the rookie the tricks of the trade.

In college, Conner was known as "The Terminator" because of his blocking ability. He actually made the team as a walk-on, and worked his way up the depth chart. He's a traditional fullback, pure blue-collar. He carried the ball only 54 times for 247 yards in his college career, and had only 25 receptions. No doubt, he will be an immediate contributor on special teams.

Conner does have some medical issues, having undergone ankle surgery in 2005.

Rich Cimini covers the Jets for ESPNNewYork.com. Follow him on Twitter.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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