By Ryan Alfieri, Editor
It is an old adage in the NFL that the most successful teams in the long-run are able to stock their roster year after year through the draft. In a lot of ways, this theory of team building makes sense, especially with the new rookie wage scale; younger players are cheaper, improve with time, and tend to have superior physical attributes to their aging veteran counterparts.
While last season’s collapse is may not reflect it, the Jets have enjoyed some of their best seasons in franchise history under general manager Mike Tannenbaum’s watch, being just a half of football away from a Super Bowl berth on more than one occasion.
However, taking a look at the Jets’ roster, have they been able to re-load through the draft, or have they been too reliant on free agency to solve their issues?
Here is a breakdown of the Jets’ roster (via Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork), with players drafted by the organization in bold:
DE Quinton Coples (2012)
CB Antonio Cromartie (Chargers, 2006)
LT D’Brickashaw Ferguson (2006)
WR Santonio Holmes (Steelers, 2006)
TE Dustin Keller (2008)
S LaRon Landry (Redskins, 2007)
C Nick Mangold (2006)
LB Aaron Maybin (Bills, 2009)
LB Calvin Pace (Cardinals, 2003)
CB Darrelle Revis (2007)
QB Mark Sanchez (2009)
QB Tim Tebow (Broncos, 2010)
LB Bryan Thomas (2002)
DE Muhammad Wilkerson (2011)
CB Kyle Wilson (2010)
OL Vladimir Ducasse (2010)
LB David Harris (2007)
WR Stephen Hill (2012)
LB Demario Davis (2012)
NT Kenrick Ellis (2011)
RB Shonn Greene (2009)
RT Wayne Hunter (Seahawks, 2003)
NT Sione Pouha (2005)
S Eric Smith (2006)
WR Patrick Turner (Dolphins, 2009)
RB Joe McKnight (2010)
RB Bilal Powell (2011)
FB John Conner (2010)
WR Jeremy Kerley (2011)
DE Jay Richardson (Raiders, 2007)
LB Ricky Sapp (Eagles, 2010)
S Yeremiah Bell (Dolphins, 2003)
S Josh Bush (2012)
PK Nick Folk (Cowboys, 2007)
RB Terrance Ganaway (2012)
G Robert T. Griffin (2012)
G Caleb Schlauderaff (Packers, 2011)
G Matt Slauson (2009)
S Antonio Allen (2012)
PK Josh Brown (Seahawks, 2003)
CB Ellis Lankster (Bills, 2009)
QB Greg McElroy (2011)
WR Scotty McKnight (2011)
WR Chaz Schilens (Raiders, 2008)
WR Jordan White (2012)
As of now, the Jets are projected to have six defensive starters and eight offensive starters that were drafted by the Jets – not a bad percentage by any stretch. However, a lot of those players, such as Shonne Greene, John Conner, and Mark Sanchez – may not be starters on other teams.
Still, it is clear that the strength of this team is based on the early picks from the 2006 and 2007 drafts, which included Darrelle Revis, David Harris, Nick Mangold, and D’Brickashaw Ferguson – “The Core 4″.
Since then, Tannenbaum’s hitting streak has been cooled off a bit by misses with Vladimir Ducasse and Vernon Gholston. Kyle Wilson has not been able to crack the starting lineup as a first-round corner, and Mark Sanchez has been about as inconsistent as they come in his first three seasons as the starting quarterback.
Therefore, the Jets have done a decent job in terms of building through the draft, only resorting to free agency to fill massive holes at safety, linebacker, and right tackle.
Certainly, a lot of the team’s success will hinge upon how Mark Sanchez will perform, which will in turn make Tannenbaum’s draft-day decisions appear to be much better or worse than they truly are.
As a whole, the Jets have been able to build their foundation through the draft, but have not been able to find quality depth and have players “wait in the wings” in the same way teams like Steelers are able to do. For example, the Jets have not been able to replace Damien Woody at right tackle because of the miss on Vladimir Ducasse in the 2010 draft, leaving a massive hole at right tackle that remains an issue today.
If the Jets want to enjoy long-term success, finding depth and quality role-players needs to be a priority moving forward.