We move now to talk about offensive tackles either currently on the Jets roster or about to hit free agency. For a refresher on our tier system, go here. Please note that while Damien Woody is not listed here because this is about guys still technically under team control, I do plan on dedicating a post to ranking guys the team cut and could bring back at the end of the series.
D'Brickashaw Ferguson (1-A)
If you are ever tempted to give up on a young player quickly aside from those showing Gholstonian levels of inadequacy, I advise you to remember D'Brickashaw. Two years into his career, things looked tenuous. He was inconsistent as a pass protector. He offered nothing as a run blocker. In retrospect, a lot of his problems in that second season were caused by Adrien Clarke starting next to him at guard. Clarke was so bad that Brick was left with impossible tasks. He has not taken another snap in the league since 2007. Meanwhile, one can make a strong case that Ferguson has developed into one of the top five tackles in the league over the past three years. He has made a pair of Pro Bowls. He only allowed 2 sacks in 2010. His run blocking has improved not to merely passable but to very good. The Jets averaged over 5 yards per carry running either at or outside left tackle in 2010. After Damien Woody got hurt, they sometimes moved Brick to the right side when they wanted to run it that way. They were so confident that they did not care about telegraphing it. Bill Callahan and Alan Faneca surely deserve some credit in teaching him, but D'Brickashaw Ferguson has become a top left tackle. It is amazing to think that a lot of smart people thought the team should have traded up for Reggie Bush or taken Matt Leinart instead of Brick at the time of the Draft in 2006.
Wayne Hunter (3-E)
I gave Hunter a lot of praise in 2010, and I think it was deserved. A good chunk of it was due to him succeeding my low expectations. He turned in a few excellent performances. He is very athletic and has turned into one of the best backup tackles in the league. I would love to have him as a backup. He does not rate terribly highly against other starters, though. Wayne is a depth guy. You want him on the roster, but you do not want to have to play him too frequently. There was a big dropoff in run productivity when Damien Woody went out of the lineup. While Hunter handled Lamarr Woodley and Julius Peppers extremely well, he was taken to the woodshed by Cameron Wake and Mario Williams. Yes, those guys are really good, but a team with Super Bowl aspirations needs to be able to counter the best the other side has to offer. Hunter also got beaten on an early play in New England that got Mark Sanchez's arm hit on a pass attempt when Mark was throwing to an open receiver down the field for a potential big play, stalling a drive. I would like to see Wayne back but as a backup.
Vladimir Ducasse (3-D)
Every Draft prospect has a level of natural ability and a level of refinement. Guys who rate highly in both areas tend to go high. These are the few ready to play at a high level immediately in the NFL. Players who fall to the end of the second round usually rate lower on the natural ability end of things. That is not really the case with Ducasse. He has top notch physical tools. He was just really raw. The Jets were swinging for the fences picking him and hoping Bill Callahan could turn him into a player. Ducasse looked the part of the raw prospect in his rookie year. He did not mount a serious challenge for the open starting guard slot and struggled to see the field. His most memorable contribution was getting Mark Sanchez drilled when Rex Ryan inexplicably gave him a series with the first team in preseason. Big Vlad looked lost out there. It is tough to blame him. He is relatively new to the game, which means he is still behind the curve learning fundamentals. The speed of the NFL is also much greater than it was against the small school competition he faced in college. He quietly worked in practice all year. In Week 17, he looked much better than in preseason. Yes, this was against backups, but as was the case with Joe McKnight, it was a lot more than he showed against backups in exhibition games. There are only so many 6'5" 325 pound guys in the world as athletic as Vlad. He has the tools to become a really good right tackle. The team seems confident too since Damien Woody was cut.