Jets miss out on late draft steals

Jeremy Kerley is a playmaker in the open field.

Metro breaks down the Jets draft and grades their performance.

Muhammad Wilkerson, DE, Temple
Round 1, Pick 30
The scoop: This was the ideal player and pick for the Jets, who were in desperate need of adding some bulk and speed on the defensive line help. Wilkerson is a big body and boasts an 85-inch wing span meaning he can both stuff the run burst into the backfield in a hurry. He’ll be handful for O-lines.
The prediction:
» Short-term: With his engine and low center of gravity, he’s the perfect end in the 3-4. “I see him as a possible three-down contributor for us,” head coach Rex Ryan said.
» Long-term: Collected 16.5 sacks the last two seasons, should be an elite rusher off the edge.

Kendrick Ellis, DT, Hampton
Round 3, Pick 30
The scoop
: The massive space-eater faces 20 years of jail time stemming from a felony
assault charge. Still, at 6-foot-5, 330 pounds, Ellis reminds us of former Jet Pro Bowler Kris Jenkins, who was released shortly after the season.
The prediction: Perhaps after being on “Hard Knocks,” the Jets are auditioning for HBO’s prison drama “Oz.” If he beats his charge, expect Ellis to create plenty of jailbreaks as a starter at nose tackle.

Bilal Powell, RB, Louisville
Round 4, Pick 29
The scoop: Another guy with character issues who was stabbed while “hanging out with the wrong crowd.” He had just one productive year at Louisville and there were plenty of more proven backs to take take in this spot, although filling this position was a head-scratcher to begin with for many fans.
The prediction: Powell can spell Shonn Greene but backs like him seem to be a dime a dozen. He’s powerful and with a bit more muscle can be built like Baltimore’s Ray Rice; a good short yardage back

Jeremy Kerley, WR, Texas Christian
Round 5, No. 22
The Scoop: Given three free agent wide receivers, not a reach that the Jets would look at Kerley. Injured for a chunk of last year, definite added value that he returns punts. An all-around good, solid athlete who makes the catches he’s supposed to but doesn’t excel in any one area. Citing that Kerley can play in the Wildcat, general manager Mike Tannenbaum compared the draft pick to current Jets free agent Brad Smith.
Prediction: Kerley played in a system that liked to spread the ball and put a heavy emphasis on timed routes. There should be competition at wide receiver this year for the Jets and Kerley could end up battling practice squad player Patrick Turner for a spot on the team. The Jets are short on real athlete-types and they got that in Kerley, who can make defenders miss in the open field.

Greg McElroy, QB, Alabama
Round 7, No. 5
The Scoop: A two-year starter for the Crimson Tide including their 2010 national championship season, McElroy is a winner in ever sense of the word. He tied a record scoring 48 out of 50 in the Wonderlic.
Prediction: A quarterback to be groomed as Mark Sanchez’s understudy or for trade bait. He has good size and decent enough arm strength and certainly proved that he could handle the rigors of the SEC. Has a real chance to eventually be No. 2 behind Sanchez.

Scotty McKnight, WR, Colorado
Round 7, No. 24
The Scoop: McKnight’s name is written near the top of nearly every receiving record at Colorado. He’s a solid, smart player who was hand-timed running a 4.46 and a 4.48 time in the 40 on his Pro Day, surprising many scouts.
Prediction: Sanchez and McKnight grew up together; in fact Sanchez threw at McKnight’s Pro Day in Boulder. Given the uncertainties at wide receiver, McKnight should make the roster or practice squad, but he’s probably not a long term solution for the Jets.

Draft grade: C

Report card

The Jets addressed their biggest area of concern by drafting two stud defensive linemen. GM Mike Tannenbaum, though, dropped the ball on Day 3. Needing a safety and an outside linebacker, the Jets got neither, focusing instead to pad the offense with average talent. Fifth-rounder Jeremy Kerley is the only player we see having a shot to breakout. The TCU WR can be a Brad Smith clone.

After two straight AFC championship appearances, the Jets needed to add immediate impact players.

For the second straight year, general manager Mike Tannenbaum selected a player in the first round with New Jersey ties from a non-BCS program. The hope is that Temple defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson, largely considered the second best defensive end in the draft, can immediately step into the rotation and provide pass-rush support.

The Jets next pick in the third round, Kenrick Ellis, is a FCS player who is a true nose tackle and has outstanding athleticism for his 330-pound frame. But Ellis comes with character issues and could face 20 years in prison for felony assault when he stands trial this summer. Team management is confident Ellis will play this year but for a team plagued with questionable behavior, the pick seems somewhat tainted.

In Rex Ryan’s previous two drafts, the Jets selected just one defensive player, picking six players on the offensive side of the ball. After taking a defensive end and a nose tackle in the first and third rounds, the Jets went offense again with their final four selections. It looks like a case of the team drafting a best player available almost to a fault, perhaps ignoring serious areas of need.


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