New York Jets 2009 Draft Day Preview

Who's throwin'?

Kellen Clemens is the only quarterback on the New York Jets roster who has ever thrown a pass in a NFL regular season game. For his career, Clemens has a quarterback rating of only 59.3, has completed just 52% of his passes, while he has an 11-5 interception to touchdown ratio. Yet new head coach Rex Ryan publically keeps insisting that New York is quite satisfied with Clemens and their other 2 signal callers, Brett Ratliff and Erik Ainge. At the recent mini-camps, Ryan even went out of his way to praise Clemens for his poise and his decision making. Giving one the impression that perhaps the Jets are going to go with the 3rd year quarterback from Oregon as their starter this season and not go after USC's Mark Sanchez or Josh Freeman from Kansas State in the draft upcoming this Saturday.

Smoke gets in your eyes

Which is all fine and good, but considering General Manager Mike Tannenbaum's shrewdness, this may be all one big smokescreen. Tannenbaum has a little history of not tipping his hand and then making creative deals on draft day to move up in the order to get the players he and the Jets have targeted. He's done so the last 2 years and given how much homework they have reportedly done on the 2 aforementioned QBs, they may well look at this position with their first round selection, the 17th pick in the draft. Sanchez, Freeman, and Georgia's Matthew Stafford are the consensus top QBs this year, with a big drop-off after them. So if this is the way the Jets are going to go, then they will have to trade up to get their guy. Stafford is expected to go first, perhaps overall, as the number 1 pick, while Sanchez's stock has really started to rise and he is in all likelihood, a top 10 selection. Freeman figures to be more of a project and may even last into the 2nd round.


New York lost Laveranues Coles to free agency and now has almost as big of need at wide receiver as they do behind center. Chansi Stuckey, Jerricho Cotchery, Brad Smith, and David Clowney are the pass catchers left on the roster, but none of them are the type of playmakers that offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer covets. Nor does this group have the breakaway speed to stretch and scare defenses. Michael Crabtree of Texas Tech and Maryland's Darrius Heyward-Bey are big receivers with speed that can do things with the ball after the catch. Crabtree had 41 touchdowns the past 2 seasons and is probably the premier playmaker in this draft. Jeremy Maclin of Missouri and Percy Harvin are the top speedsters coming out of college. Both are exceptional fast but neither has the size the Jets are looking for.

Road-grader who can catch

Dustin Keller proved to be a viable option at catching the ball with 48 receptions, with 32 of those catches for first downs, plus 3 touchdowns in his rookie year last season; however he is not a great blocker. And regardless of whoever is playing quarterback, Coach Ryan figures to run the ball a lot. So a blocking tight end is a must here. Brandon Pettigrew of Oklahoma State fits the bill for what the Jets are looking for at 6'6 and 255 pounds. Pettigrew is a dominating, physical blocker who has the potential to improve any team's running game.

Fearsome pass rusher

In what should be another of the team's primary needs is someone that can be an aggressive pass rusher coming off the edge in Coach Ryan's 3-4 defensive scheme. End Brian Orakpo from Texas is a big-time talent who displays passion and a huge work ethic, but he will probably be gone by the time New York selects. Also at defensive end are 2 versatile players that resemble what the Jets are in need of, Penn State's Aaron Maybin and Tyson Jackson from LSU. USC's Clay Matthews has coverage ability, speed off the outside, and is a tremendous tackler, while having a great upside as a linebacker in a 3-4 defense. The incumbents are Vernon Gholston, who was a big disappointment as last year's first round pick, while Shaun Ellis is 32 years old and Kenyon Coleman had zero sacks in the season past, so attention in this area is definitely a priority

Running Back and O-Line

Pro Bowler Thomas Jones is 30 years old and did not participate in mini-camp. Behind him is Leon Washington who is primarily a 3rd down back who out of the backfield, only averages about 7.5 touches, rushes and receptions, per game. Some semblance of depth is needed to be worked into this rotation since after the aforementioned duo, there is very little to speak of. Nick Mangold is a Pro Bowl center who anchors a line returning 5 starters that played well together last season. Alan Faneca and Damien Woody are in their 12th and 11th years respectfully, so depth is needed here. Like the running back position, after the starters, there isn't much to talk about.


With a rookie head coach and unproven quarterback, the Jets may struggle because the entire AFC East has improved. Their defense should be good, but unless New York makes upgrades and improvements to the offense (moving up to get Crabtree will make everyone on that side of the ball better), they look to be no better than 3rd in the division.

-Lenny Moretti for

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