by Adam Fournier, Ourlads’ Intern
The Jets looked to be one of the up and coming teams in the NFL a few years ago with the arrival of Head Coach Rex Ryan. Ryan led the Jets to AFC Championship Games in each of his first two seasons. However, the Jets never returned to the playoffs under Ryan; and he was fired in 2014. Part of the issue the Jets have had over the final four years of Ryan’s tenure was the lack of production from their draft picks.
The 2010 draft was the beginning of the end as the draft class failed to produce. While the draft class only had four picks, none of them are still with the Jets nor did they do much in their time with the team. The most notable being 1st round pick Kyle Wilson who failed to live up to his first round status. He was a contributor at defensive back for five years but only a primary starter in one of the five seasons. His performances left a lot to be desired. Wilson left for New Orleans during the 2015 offseason after five years with the Jets. The 2nd round pick Vladimir Ducasse was even worse as he started only five games in four years with the team. The final two picks in the draft were Joe McKnight and John Conner. Both made contributions for three seasons but nothing significant.
The next four classes have not been much better as a whole. While he still has time to turn it around, the biggest miss over this stretch seems to be Dee Milliner. Milliner was drafted as the answer to the departure of Darrelle Revis and has not quite lived up to that. He has struggled on the field and struggled with injuries playing only sixteen games in two years. With the return of Revis and Antonio Cromartie for the 2015 season, Milliner will be used in a reserve role. The jury is still out on his career and playing behind those two could potentially do wonders for his development. The jury is also still out but it’s not looking good for Geno Smith. Smith has started 29 games in his two years but has been considered one of the worst starting quarterbacks in the league the past few years. He is in serious danger of losing his job going forward as he is expected to miss roughly half the 2015 season after an altercation with a teammate.
The most recent draft class had a rough rookie campaign in 2014. That draft class consisted of twelve players and had little to no impact last season. Only Calvin Pryor and Jace Amaro made any significant contribution but they were not great. Dexter McDougle and Shaquelle Evans spent the entire season on IR while Jalen Saunders, Jeremiah George, Brandon Dixon, and Tajh Boyd were released during their rookie year. The rest of the players were non-factors during 2014 including IK Enemkpali. Enemkpali was released before his second year as he was on the other side of the aforementioned altercation with Geno Smith. The entire class that remains with the Jets will have to step up their play in the future.
To be fair, the Jets have drafted a few great players in the last five years, mostly on the defensive line. Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson have been the best players the Jets have recently picked. Wilkerson has been great in his four years with the Jets playing in nearly every game and is considered one of the better defensive linemen in the league. Richardson has been fantastic playing in every game in his two years and has emerged as one of the best young defensive players in the league. He won the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2013 and was a Pro Bowler in 2014. Both will be starting on the defensive line for the Jets in 2015. Also contributing on the defensive side of the ball are 2012 draft picks Quentin Coples and Demario Davis. Coples and Davis will be starting at linebacker in 2015. On the offensive side of the ball, 2011 picks Bilal Powell and Jeremy Kerley have been the biggest contributors with both expected to contribute in 2015 as reserves. Kerley will be the third receiver on one of the better receiving corps for the 2015 season alongside Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. With Wilkerson also coming from the 2011 draft, the 2011 class is easily the best of the Jets’ last five drafts.