This past season wasn’t a productive one for the Jets rookies. Mike Tannenbaum has hit on his share of picks since becoming the Jets GM but the early returns on the 2010 draft class weren’t very promising. Let’s take a look back at what they did but more importantly what they are going to need to do in 2011 for the Jets to remain a top team in the AFC —
Kyle Wilson – 21 tackles, 5 passes defenses, 7.4 yards per punt return, 300 pass interference penalties
Before the season started, Rex Ryan declared Kyle Wilson his starting nickel and top punt returner. In the summer, he said the Jets could survive without Darelle Revis because Wilson had shown so much promise…um, not exactly. Wilson struggled heavily in coverage and was eventually passed on the depth chart by Drew Coleman and he also never looked comfortable on punt returns. It is too early to call Wilson a bust but he clearly needs to re-adjust his game to the NFL level and learn how to play the football in the air.
I wouldn’t be shocked if Drew Coleman wasn’t back in 2011 and there is also a chance Antonio Cromartie might not return. Either way, the coaching staff is going to give Wilson another shot to at least be the full time nickel corner. The Jets need him to develop so slot receivers can stop slicing them apart in the middle of the field. Wilson also needs to pick it up as a punt returner so the Jets don’t have to risk Jerricho Cotchery (who could be a starter again if Braylon Edwards leaves) or Santonio Holmes back there.
Vladimir Ducasse – 1 King Ugly Runner-Up Award
Winning the King Ugly Runner-Up Award in training camp was about the most memorable moment of the season for Vladimir Ducasse. He clearly wasn’t ready to compete for the starting guard job in August and Matt Slauson held the position down well all year. There is a good chance Ducasse will have a chance to compete with Wayne Hunter for the starting right tackle spot this year, if the Jets decide to let Damien Woody walk. If Ducasse can’t win that job, you would hope he shows enough progress to at least contribute in their big packages and provide decent depth.
Joe McKnight – 39 carries, 189 yards, 3 receptions, 20 yards, plenty of vomit
Joe McKnight didn’t show up to rookie minicamp ready to play and it was really all down hill from there. He couldn’t protect the ball in the pre-season and was buried on the inactive list for most the year. McKnight did show some promise on special teams toward the end of the season and played well in the Jets regular season finale against Buffalo.
There is a good chance that Brad Smith won’t be back and also a small chance LaDainian Tomlinson won’t return in 2011. Either way, the Jets will need McKnight to take a bigger role on the offense and special teams. Tomlinson can’t handle as many touches on offense and McKnight needs to show his ability to be a dual threat as a runner/receiver the Jets drafted him for.
John Conner – 8 carries, 44 yards, 1 touchdown, 1,000,000 compliments from Rex Ryan
For a player who did so little this year, Conner gets a ton of hype. However, to be fair Tony Richardson put together another solid year at the fullback position and it is a good thing that Conner had a full season to be mentored by him. He did show a ton of potential in the pre-season and should be the Jets fullback for a long, long time or for at least as long as Rex Ryan is around. I am anxious to see him be a starter and hope he learned plenty from Richardson.