As hinted at in the title, this will probably be the first of multiple (at least two) articles. I've been tossing it around in my head for a couple weeks now and decided it would either be too long or too condensed if written all at once. Of course, I may just go the History of the World : Part 1 approach, so we'll see. This article should have been subtitled Tanny : The Man, the Myth, the Legend?, but I couldn't figure out how to do that effectively (yeah, I'm still a rookie). Anyway, I thought it was time to do an in-depth analysis of the young talent on the Jet's roster, starting with Trader Mike and what he has or has not accomplished in his five year tenure as GM, specifically the infusion of young talent into the roster.
Tannebaum has now been wholly, or at least partially, responsible for the last 5 Jets' drafts. If you'd like to see every individual draft class going back to '06, and beyond, I've provided a link here. Instead of reviewing each individual pick, I intend to analyze the pros and cons of the decisions he's made in the draft. I'm targeting younger players (I'd say no more than 27 or 28), not so much the older veterans, like LT, who have certainly contributed but aren't exactly "yout's" anymore.
Let's start at the beginning. Tannenbaum made his first attempt at the draft in 2006 after taking over for Terry Bradway in February. I know a lot of people like to give Bradway and his staff credit for the scouting involved in the 06 draft, but before Tanny took over it was largely rumored we would trade up to acquire Mario Williams. Instead, we used both first round picks to grab Mangold and Ferguson, perennial stars on the O-line. In fact, I've talked to few fans of any team who would argue that Mangold isn't the best C in the NFL. We also managed to grab current starting FS Eric Smith (yeah, I'm on the Pool bandwagon, but what're you gonna' do), plus Drew Coleman, Leon Washington, and Brad Smith, all of whom made important contributions in their Jets tenure. That's six draft picks in one year either starting or playing significant minutes for an NFL franchise. Not bad.
Tanny was back at it in 07, with only four picks to improve the squad. What could be done? Well, how about picking up best CB in the universe Darrelle Revis with the 14th pick - I bet those first 13 teams are kicking themselves. With the second pick, a guy a lot of you may not have heard of, but who's done a passable job filling in at ILB - David Harris (sarcasm font? Not sure how to do that either). Stuckey wasn't a terrible pick, I just don't think he fit our system. His one full season with the Jets produced a respectable 32 catches for 359 yards and 3TDs.
2008 was certainly Tannenbaum's worst draft, but before anyone crucifies him for it, let's break it down a bit. Every Jets fan is all too familar with the colossal bust that was/is Vernon Gholston. We also had a couple promising late round picks (Ainge, Henry, Garner) that didn't pan out for various reasons. But short of being a complete wash, Tanny did manage to pull a great young TE in Dustin Keller. Not to mention Lowery in the 4th, who seemed to have found a home at safety - his trade definitely falls in my con section on Trader Mike. The next year however, was a return to form. With only three picks in the 09 draft, the Jets landed their franchise QB (Sanchez, in case you live in Jets Amnish country), our starting RB in Greene, and starting LG Matt Slauson. Slauson's been a solid starter, and while Greene and Sanchez are frustrating with their inconsistency we've all seen how effective they are when the offense plays well as a whole and the gameplan makes sense (hint, hint Schotty).
The last two drafts are too recent to really give a fair evaluation of the players taken, but lets go ahead and do it anyway. 2010 saw the addition of Connor, Wilson, McKnight, and Ducasse. Connor looks to be a good FB for years to come - I know a lot of people are down on him for not being T-Rich, but hey, we're talking about a probable HOFer, so let's cut the kid some slack (and honestly, who the hell out there on any team is T-Rich?). Wilson has improved tremendously as our primary nickel corner, and looks like he could take over for Cromartie whenever the situation warrants it. I'm not sold on Ducasse, but I honestly haven't seen enough to give a valid opinion either way, so I'll just have to trust Rex and Tanny on this one. McKnight - just wow! OK, I know he hasn't lit it up consistently in any one particular area, except maybe ST, but am I the only one who gets excited when I see #25 on the field, well anywhere?!? I mean, offense, defense, ST, hell if I spotted the kid selling hot dogs in the stands I'd probably think good things were coming!
Then we have this year's draft. Wilkerson has filled in nicely for Ellis, and looks to be a rising star. Kenrick Ellis is an unstoppable Behemoth who will one day have Suh begging him for sage advice on how to be truly great, while QBs pay tribute so that he won't destroy them and everything they hold dear! OK, maybe a little over the stop, but short of being snatched up in a beartrap somewhere, I see Ellis becoming a force to be reckoned with. Powell's another one I haven't seen enough of to judge, and may prove to be better down the line than a lot of Jets fans think. Don't forget with Greene, LT, and an emerging McKnight (who I see as a Leon Washington type of player), there's not much scratch for Powell right now. Kerley is quickly becoming a dependable slot receiver - see Crackback's article. McElroy impressed me in the preseason, and a lot of my friends - I live in SEC country - were shocked to see him go so late in the draft. Scotty isn't spectacular, but may land a role eventually as a fourth or fifth option due to a repoire with Sanchez.
I'm going to go ahead and wrap this up for now, as it seems to be getting lengthy. It looks like Part Two won't be far behind since I still want to go over more of Tanny's body of work and the overall strengths/weaknesses of the Jets newer, younger roster (but mostly strengths - I'm a glass half full kind of guy!). Please let me know your opinions. So much for my History of The World homage - stay tuned for the exciting conclusion (?) of The Yout's...