We have ranked the Jets' first and second round picks over the last decade. Now let's move to the third rounders. At the end of Mike Tannenbaum's run, there were two prevailing schools of thought over why he failed as a drafter after 2007. One was his poor track record in the first round making Gholston/Sanchez/Wilson type picks. The other was he traded away too many late picks, squandering opportunities to add depth. I'd like to add a third argument to the equation. The Jets failed miserably at adding impact players in the second and third round. While the third round is unquestionably better than the disastrous second round we discussed yesterday, there is a discernible lack of above average starters.
1. Sione Pouha, 2005
Pouha had a strange career. He was already 26 by the time the Jets used a third round pick on him. Then he was a marginal player his first four years in the league. He was 30 years old and had done little of note. Then Kris Jenkins got hurt in 2009. Pouha stepped in and gave the Jets high level nose tackle play for the next three seasons. A back injury in 2012 limited his effectiveness and eventually ended his career, but not before he became a productive and popular player in Jets lore.
2. Shonn Greene, 2009
After trading up for Mark Sanchez in 2009, the Jets traded up again to land Greene at the top of the third round. He never reached expectations. This was particularly disappointing because he looked like he might be something special as a rookie, averaging 5 yards per run. More than that, he took over postseason games against Cincinnati and San Diego. Greene ran for 135 yards against the Bengals and 128 against the Chargers. I always thought the turning point of the AFC Championship Game against the Colts was when a rib injury knocked Greene out of the game. To that point, the Jets were following the formula of letting Greene pound on the other team, eventually wearing them down to the point he could pop some big runs in the second half. He never made good on the promise he showed, though. The rest of his career, he was not an impact back. He didn't run with much authority, he didn't show a second gear, and he left plenty of yards on the field with poor vision. There were a pair of years where he narrowly cracked the 1,000 yard threshold, but Greene ended up more a suboptimal part of the machine rather than something that made the machine work.
3. Demario Davis, 2012
The Jets grabbed Davis in 2012 to take over for Bart Scott. Over the last two seasons, he has grabbed a starting role. He has put up some nice tackle totals. He isn't an impact run defender, though. Although he was not a great coverage guy entering the NFL, there was some hope he could be developed due to his speed. That has not happened. Davis is a functional starter, nothing more.
4. Eric Smith, 2006
Smith felt like a bit of an overdraft in 2006 at the time. He proved to be just that. Had he gone in the fifth or sixth round, it would have been a very successful pick. He bounced in and out of the starting lineup during his career. He was a nice, versatile piece in a reserve role playing in subpackages. The Jets would not have beaten the Colts in the 2010 Playoffs without Smith having perhaps his best game as a pro. Unfortunately, folks in Jets management seemed to let their personal like of Smith cloud their judgment after that game. They gave him a decent contract and made him a starter, which blew up in their faces. If you had Smith for near the minimum and had him playing subpackages and special teams, you loved him. If he was making any kind of money and playing safety full-time, it wasn't pretty. His lack of athleticism got exposed in a big way. It felt like he was part of a catastrophic play a week in 2011.
5. Kenrick Ellis, 2011
Hopes were high for Ellis when the Jets took him four years ago. He did not fall to the end of the third round due to a lack of ability. Many thought he was the most physically gifted nose tackle in that year's class. He never put it together. Part of this was because he was always banged up. Ellis was eventually surpassed on the depth chart by Damon Harrison and never became more than a solid rotational player.
6. Dexter McDougle, 2014
McDougle is a total blank page, having missed most of his final college season and his entire rookie year in the NFL. We will have to see what Todd Bowles has in store for him. Will he be a slot corner? Do the Jets have some sort of safety/cornerback hybrid role? Do they even think he's going to make the team? We don't know. This is another pick that felt like a reach at the time. It's tough to feel good about a player when we can invoke the phrase, "John Idzik went out on a limb to bring him in." Believing in McDougle right now requires trusting in an unconventional Idzik decision.
7. Brian Winters, 2013
Winters took the starting left guard job early in 2013 and kept it until an injury in early 2014. In just over a year, he did not show much growth. He was one of the least effective guards in the league. He didn't get much of a push as a run blocker, and struggled greatly identifying and winning his assignments in the passing game. He enters training camp as a former starter who might not be a lock to make the team.
8. Anthony Schlegel, 2006
Oh, you forgot about him. Didn't you? Schlegel was a surprise third round pick. The Jets apparently fell in love with him while scouting fellow Ohio State linebacker A.J. Hawk, who went in the top ten. They thought he did things that jumped off the page. People went crazy over the pick because in his free time Schlegel hunted wild boar with a knife...because that has something to do with football playing ability. Schlegel played sparingly as a rookie, registering 1 tackle. He was cut before the start of his second season.