COMMENTARY | Super Bowl week promises to be filled with planning and preparations -- and tons of traffic for New Yorkers -- and outrageously priced events. So, before the actual game is played, and before the official ending of the 2013 NFL season on Sunday night, let's take time to reflect and look back at the New York Jets' 2013 draft class.
On Thursday ESPN's NFL draft guru, Mel Kiper Jr., reviewed every team's draft and changed his grade for the Jets draft class, moving it from a B (grade given last April) to a B+ -- not exactly the grade Rex Ryan gave his rookies, when he declared the Jets as the winners of the 2013 NFL draft, but it is an improvement.
But are either of them right?
Aside from defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, who was in the running for 2013s NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, the rest of the Jets draft class was inconsistent.
Let's take a look at how the Jets rookies fared in their first season in the NFL.
The Jets' No. 9 pick improved his play over the last few weeks of the 2013 NFL regular season, but the cornerback struggled mightily for most of the season. Milliner, who was rated as the best cover corner coming out of the draft, was expected to fill the hole left behind by the departure of Darrelle Revis, but looked below average in most of the games.
Yes, rookies struggle, but Milliner's level of play looked nothing like a player that was selected in the top 10. The rookie was unable to cover, unable to tackle and it appeared that he was having trouble recognizing situations when the ball would come his way. He did show improvement in the month of December, but he still has a lot of learning to do and still has to fix some of his technical issues.
The No. 13 pick -- a pick the Jets acquired when they shipped Revis to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- played out of his mind this season, looking less like a rookie and more like a Pro Bowl-caliber defensive lineman.
Richardson made an instant impact on the Jets' defense and has given the Jets organization and its fans high hopes for the future. Richardson showed his prowess in the pass-rush with over 20 quarterback hurries, 3.5 sacks and one forced fumble. The defensive lineman was also one of the best run-stuffing defensive ends in the league, finishing with 77 tackles, 12 of them being stuffed runs.
Grade: A+Geno Smith
It was a very Jekyll and Hyde season for second-round pick Geno Smith. The rookie quarterback had some big games and made some big plays for the Jets, but, at the same time, he's made some costly mistakes. Smith finished the season completing 55 percent of his passes for 3,046 yards and 12 touchdowns, but he was also responsible for turning the ball over an unacceptable 25 times (21 interceptions).
The rookie quarterback did show some improvement over the last few games, but his major flaws were on display for most of the season: he drops too far back, he doesn't go through his progressions and seems to get rattled too easily when he gets pressured. At times, Smith looked like he was rushing his throws just to avoid getting hit. Dealing with a shaky line, it's not all his fault, but he has to fix his issues soon. That being said, the Jets also have to have patience with Smith; they need to provide the quarterback with some help, whether it be on the offensive line or with some playmakers on offense.
The Jets' third round pick struggled his rookie season. Yes, he beat out a struggling Vladimir Ducasse for the starting position, but Winters was not an adequate left guard, giving up nine sacks this season. He did make a transition from tackle to guard, so he has some learning to do.
Oday Aboushi and Will Campbell
Oday Aboushi (fifth round draft pick) and Will Campbell (sixth round draft pick) were inactive for every game this season.
Fullback Tommy Bohanon, a seventh round pick, was serviceable but didn't make much of an impact on the Jets' rushing attack, playing just 38 percent of the team's snaps and finishing the season with 17 carries for 62 yards.
Grade: CSheldon Richardson is obviously the star of the Jets' draft class, and he picks up the overall grade by a lot. Both Milliner and Geno Smith showed improvement in their last few games, so hopefully they can build off that going into the 2014 season. Brian Winters made the transition from tackle to guard, so his struggles were expected. He did show some promise toward the end of the season, so hopefully he can build off of that.
Draft Class Overall Grade: B
Jonathan Peralta is a proud New Yorker that has been covering the New York Jets and the NFL on various sports websites the past few years. His work has been featured on Bleacher Report, the Star-Ledger, Fox Sports Radio and Fox Sports Yardbarker. For sports news and updates, follow @itsJPeralta on Twitter.
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