Vladimir Ducasse: Stay or Go?

HOUSTON - AUGUST 15: Quarterback Greg McElroy #14 of the New York Jets looks for a receiver as offensive lineman Vladimir Ducasse #62 blocks outside linebacker Jesse Nading #72 of the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium on August 15, 2011 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

If one piece of information could sum up Vladimir Ducasse's development in two years with the Jets it is that he could not even get a look to start over Wayne Hunter. When looking at reasons for the failures for the 2011 Jets, Ducasse's abject failure to improve rates highly on the list. The Jets had a gaping hole at right tackle. Ducasse was nowhere near being ready to fill it.

Even worse, he was not even capable of serving as a fill in for depth. Think of the difference Ducasse could have made when Nick Mangold got hurt. The Jets could have put Ducasse at left guard and moved Matt Slauson to center. Things eventually got so desperate that they tried this briefly against the Ravens, where Ducasse missed a block that almost got Mark Sanchez killed.

Two years into his career, Ducasse is roughly at the same place he was when the Jets drafted him. He can be very powerful when he gets off the ball quickly and drives defenders in the run game. He looks like he is playing in slow motion, though, when he has to diagnose what is happening in front of him. Throw a twist or a stunt at him, and the defender might be all the way past him by the time he moves. Perhaps the most brutal example was when he lined up as an extra tight end against the Eagles and held when the defensive end made an inside move even though he had D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Matt Slauson inside to help.

You can make any excuse you want. You can say the Jets have asked him to move to different positions. You can say he was a project coming out of school. The bottom line is he needs to get a lot better. At the very least, drafting him in the second round looks like one of Mike Tannenbaum's biggest mistakes. A second round pick should be able to contribute in a meaningful way by the end of his second season. Ducasse did a bit of decent work as an extra blocker in jumbo sets. That is it. You take athletes who are so raw it will take them four years to contribute in the fifth round, not the second. Perhaps then any complaints we have about Ducasse should really go to Tannenbaum. If Vladimir went in the Draft where he should have, we might view his development through a different lens.

Ducasse has a lot of ability. He is strong and nimble. He has yet to translate that into production on the football field. His salary is next to nothing so it worth trying to get something out of his natural athleticism. It is difficult to get hopes too high, though. For every raw athlete who learns technique, nine don't. Perhaps an offseason of work will do wonders for his game. If there is not some sort of substantial improvement, though, Ducasse might not make it out of preseason.

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