The Jets drafting prowess will be put to the test again this week with the annual NFL draft starting Thursday night. This is generally an exciting night, especially for Jets fans as General Manager Mike Tannenbaum has a short (five years) but mostly impressive track record at this very important event.
His franchise-altering draft of 2006, which yielded offensive line mainstays OT D'Brickashaw Ferguson (1st round) and Center Nick Mangold (1st) as well as multipurpose extraordinaires RB/KR Leon Washington (4th) and WR/QB/KR Brad Smith (4th), was followed up by his exceptional 2007 haul that brought in superstar CB Darrelle Revis (1st) and LB David Harris (2nd), more than made up for the disappointment that was DE/OLB Vernon Gholston, and remains the groundwork for the team's recent on-the-field success.
As an aside, it is believed that the driving force behind making Gholston, the former Ohio State DE, the sixth overall pick of 2008 and costing the Jets an immense signing bonus was the shaky projection of former head coach Eric Mangini—not Tannenbaum. Whatever the case, the Gholston experiment was mercifully unplugged with his release on March 2.
All was not lost in that draft, though as the Jets did pick up TE Dusin Keller with the 30th overall pick (same spot as this year) as well as CB Dwight Lowery (4th).
Tannenbaum's 2009 crop included wheeling and dealing for QB Mark Sanchez (1st) and RB Shonn Greene (3rd). Neither are stars yet, but both are young and Sanchez's four playoff road wins in his first two years is a very good sign, as quarterbacks generally take more time to develop.
Last year's draft however, is quickly looking like his weakest. Although the Jets only had four picks and it's only been one year, no one seems to be too excited about CB Kyle Wilson (1st) or OG Vladimir Ducasse (2nd). RB Joe McKnight (4th) had, individually, the best performance of any of them with his 158 yards against a weak Buffalo defense in the regular season finale.
So, what does Tannenbaum have up his sleeve for this year's picks? He (somewhat) answered questions about their draft plans late last week. "We'll take the 30th best player, whoever that is," said the not-very-specific GM.
Here's hoping the 30th best player is a defensive lineman … and a good one. After releasing former Pro-Bowlers Jason Taylor and Kris Jenkins this offseason and watching Shaun Ellis blow out 33 candles, the Jets are getting dangerously thin (and a little bit old) on the defensive line. We all know what a great defensive coach Rex Ryan is, but just imagine what he could have done with (a healthy) John Abraham or if Dewayne Robertson lived up to the lofty expectations of the 4th overall pick?
Who would possibly be available at their time (30th overall)? Will UNC's Marvin Austin or Robert Quinn slip down? Could Alabama's Marcell Dareus slip down?
Maybe the Jets will pull another draft day shocker and trade up like they did two years ago for Mark Sanchez. Either way, Jet's fans should feel confident that Tannenbaum is in charge.