Re-Grading the New York Jets 2010 NFL Draft Class

Erik Frenz@ErikFrenzSenior Writer IMarch 21, 2013

Feb 21, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; New York Jets coach Rex Ryan speaks at a press conference during the 2013 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Why rush to grade a team's NFL draft haul just minutes after the final selection card has been handed in?

It's impossible to know how a team actually did so soon after the fact; those grades are superficial and based off perceived value, as well a judgment on whether a team filled its needs.

Perception is not reality, and filling needs is not a successful way to draft. Talk about a moot point. 

The best time to provide perspective on a draft is three years after the fact, when the body of work is large enough to help draw solid conclusions.

Well, we are officially three football seasons removed from the 2010 draft, so now seems as good a time as any to review and grade that year's draft class for the Jets.

For context, critics loved the Jets draft after the fact. Rich Cimini of ESPN New York gave them solid grades for each pick, and Mel Kiper Jr. gave them a B for the 10th-best grade in the league.

How did they do? Let's take a look back and give them more accurate grades than any immediate context could have provided.

CB Kyle Wilson—first round, 29th pick

Wilson rode a tidal wave of momentum on his way to a first-round pick. A remarkably consistent college career for an upstart Boise State squad was followed up by a dominant performance at the Senior Bowl. At that point, he was regarded by most as the second-best cornerback in the 2010 class.

His consistency took a huge hit when he came to the NFL, and he gave up a passer rating of above 92 into his coverage in 15-of-32 games over the past two years.

According to (login required), he allowed 22-of-34 throws into his coverage to be completed over the final seven games of the 2011 season, allowing three touchdowns while grabbing just one interception. He was up-and-down in 2012 after being bumped up to a starting role with the injury to Darrelle Revis. 

He was praised as a ball-hawk with elite athleticism and straight-line speed. The athleticism that was supposed to give him a high ceiling has been the cause of his downfall at times, as he relies on it too often and gambles on double moves. His skills as a punt returner (three return touchdowns in 2008) were said to offer some versatility to his game, but he has yet to show those skills at the NFL level. 

He could still be a serviceable No. 3 cornerback, but he has inspired little confidence in the Jets' ability to successfully move on from Revis.

Grade: D+

T Vlad Ducasse—second round, 61st pick

Ducasse was lauded for his durability, physicality and surprising agility at UMass, but the question was whether his fundamentals and football intelligence would ever be up to snuff, having so little experience in the game while growing up in Haiti.

How much of an albatross has Ducasse become to the Jets? Coaches can't even agree on whose decision it was to platoon him with Matt Slauson at left guard. Offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo said of Ducasse, "He's playing well enough to be an every third series guy, maybe," and said the decision to play Ducasse came "from high above [him]". Rex Ryan said the decision to play Ducasse didn't come from the front office.

This came after a summer in which Rex said Ducasse "really looks good" at guard. He earned just 284 snaps in 2012, after earning 167 through his first two years combined.

The Jets knew Ducasse would be a project, but three seasons in, they still have almost no confidence in his ability to start anywhere on the line. Whether it's trading for Jason Smith or signing Willie Colon, it seems they're exhausting nearly every option possible except giving Ducasse a starting role.

Grade: F

RB Joe McKnight—fourth round, 112th pick

McKnight was lauded as the second coming of Reggie Bush at USC for his speed and his abilities in the open field. His exceptional hands and good route-running made him look like a solid prospect to add into a rotation in the backfield.

The Jets still haven't gotten exactly what they wanted out of McKnight in that regard (17 career receptions, 112 career rushes), but he has contributed in a big way on special teams, with 73 kickoff returns over the past two years resulting in two touchdowns and an average of 29.4 yards per return.

The coaching staff remains apprehensive about giving him a role in the offense, as he has totaled just 247 offensive snaps in his career, and just 60 in 2012.

He could have an opportunity to show his worth in Marty Mornhinweg's West Coast offense. The former Eagles offensive coordinator frequently used his backs in the passing game. The one-for-one swap of Shonn Greene for Mike Goodson, however, means he's still probably the No. 3 option behind Goodson and Bilal Powell.

Still, a fourth-round pick for a very solid return specialist isn't bad value by any stretch. 

Grade: B-

John Conner—fifth round, 139th pick

At Kentucky, John Conner was a fixture in the lineup, and he earned 11 starts in 13 games as a junior. He was named to ProFootballWeekly's All-American squad and was dubbed the best blocking back in the SEC prior to the 2009 season.

With the Jets, Conner became more well-known for his nickname, Terminator, than he is for anything he did on the football field. He earned that nickname by delivering a few vicious blocks in training camp, and although that blocking ability didn't translate onto the field as a rookie, he took some strides in 2011 and graded out among the best blocking fullbacks in the NFL, according to

He wasn't good for much else, though. That lack of versatility made it all too obvious that the Jets were running the ball any time he was on the field. Conner survived training camp and remained on the roster until mid-October before finally being released. 

We may need three years to get perspective on a draft class, but the Jets didn't need that long to know Conner wasn't going to pan out.

Grade: D-

Overall: F

This seemed harsh at first, but think about it percentage-wise: With just four picks in the 2010 draft, the Jets only hit on one of their four selections. That's 25 percent. Let's say Kyle Wilson is a 50-50 question mark as a hit or miss—that still only puts them up to 37.5 percent.

Wilson has all the physical talent in the world, but his lapses in concentration and flaws in footwork have been his undoing in three years in the NFL. Those are considered coachable issues, and I'm on record as saying Rex Ryan is one of the best defensive coaches in the business. If he can't get it right under Rex, there's serious doubt it will come together for him.

The fact that no one in the Jets organization can agree on who deserves blame for Ducasse getting playing time tells you all you need to know about that situation. The fact that Conner didn't even make it to the end of his third year with the Jets speaks volumes yet again.

The best piece the Jets got out of this draft class was a kick returner, and truth be told, they were probably hoping for a lot more than a kick returner when they drafted McKnight.

The overall lack of picks, and the Jets' lack of success using those picks, has resulted in the rebuilding Jets team we see before us today.

Erik Frenz is also a Patriots/AFC East writer for Boston.comFollow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained first-hand or via team press releases.


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