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National Football League
Draft King Analysis

July 13, 2008
Lou Pickney,

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The New York Jets followed up on their 10-6 season in 2006 to a poor 4-12 mark in 2007. Half of those wins came against the 1-15 Dolphins, meaning the Jets were 2-12 against the rest of the league in 2007. Eric Mangini went from making a cameo on The Sopranos to sitting on the hot seat. Things move fast in the NFL, particularly for the two franchises in the greater New York City area.

Dustin Keller
The Jets' Dustin Keller is a tight end with wide receiver skills. (Icon SMI)
This off-season, the team made some major changes. Jonathan Vilma, a skilled LB who was miscast at ILB in the Jets' 3-4 defense and who missed more than half of last season with a knee injury, was traded away to New Orleans. DT Dewayne Robertson, who was the #4 overall pick in the 2003 Draft but who also didn't fit well in New York's 3-4 defense, ended up being traded to the Denver Broncos. The Jets also cut ties with the likes of cornerback Andre Dyson, receiver Justin McCareins and guard Adrien Clarke in the off-season.

These moves opened up some salary cap space for the Jets. The team acquired DT Kris Jenkins from Carolina, where he had run into serious problems in keeping his weight under control. To point, in his new contract with the Jets (which he agreed upon as part of the trade) Jenkins will be weighed ten times per season, with him earning a $25,000 bonus each time he makes weight.

Jenkins turns 29 next month, and at 6'4" 360 he certainly fits the mold for a 3-4 NT. If he can keep his weight under control and stay healthy, he could be a major force for the Jets in stopping the run. Players with his ability and size are few and far between, which is part of the reason that the Jets signed Jenkins to a contract extension with more than $9 million guaranteed along with giving up a third and a five-round pick to the Panthers for him.

Joining Jenkins on the defensive line will be Ohio State DE Vernon Gholston, who the Jets took with the #6 overall pick of the 2008 NFL Draft. Gholston is a player who was well renouned for his athletic ability , and he proved too tempting for the Jets to pass up on in round one. The fact that he beat Michigan OT Jake Long for a sack in 2007 (he was the only person to do so) speaks volumes for his skills, though the knock on Gholston is that he is inconsistent. If he can overcome that with the Jets, he could become one of the best defensive ends in the league. Most 3-4 defenses feature DEs with more size than speed, but Gholston has both. At 6'4" 260 pounds, he has the size to excel as a DE in the 3-4.

The Jets then traded back into the first round for another selection, picking Purdue tight end Dustin Keller at #30 overall. Keller could fill multiple roles: H-back, tight end, deep threat etc. He will provide another target for the Jets, perhaps with Kellen Clemens at QB if he beats out Chad Pennington for the starting signal-caller spot in the draft.

The Jets didn't have picks in rounds two and three, but the team found a potential steal in the form of San Jose State CB Dwight Lowery at #113 overall. Lowery was tops in the nation in interceptions in 2006. He suffered a broken jaw and had a fall-off in 2007, but if he can return to his old form, Lowery could end up being a solid player. Lowery could end up putting his interception skills to work in a nickel system and could possibly take over one of the starting spots in 2009.

University of Tennessee QB Erik Ainge went to New York at #162. While he won't be in the running to be a starter this year, it's possible that he could develop into a solid NFL-quality quarterback on down the line.


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