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NFL New York Jets

New York Jets: Evaluating Rookie Class After Four Games

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New York Jets: Evaluating Rookie Class After Four Games

jets
Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Jets have begun a rebuilding process, and they are relying heavily on young talent this season. They have drafted numerous players over the last few years that have worked their way into the starting lineup, and many of them are meeting with great success.

Among those players are the members of the Jets’ 2013 draft class, a seven man group that had the unique distinction of every player making the active roster at the end of preseason. This speaks highly to the potential of the group, and they could all become key contributors down the line.

The Jets are currently starting four of those seven players, headlined of course by quarterback Geno Smith. Smith has received a huge amount of media attention this season, and he has been up and down to begin his NFL career.

First rounders Dee Milliner and Sheldon Richardson are starting on the defense, and both are closely linked to the spring trade of Darrelle Revis, the Jets’ best player. Milliner was drafted to replace Revis, while the Jets chose Richardson with the pick they received as compensation in the trade.

The surprise of the group is seventh round fullback Tommy Bohanon, who easily won a starting job in camp. Rounding out the class are three offensive linemen who have yet to make an impact.

These players are through the first quarter of their rookie season, which is obviously a very small sample size. That being said, let’s evaluate the progress they are making. There are some mixed performances here, but the Jets believe all of these players will develop into important players down the line.

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CB Dee Milliner, 1st Round, 9th Overall

milliner
The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports

Milliner was the first player the Jets selected, and he has gotten off to a rough start. Milliner missed much of camp with a shoulder injury, and he missed last week’s game with a hamstring strain. When he has been on the field, he has struggled to adjust to the speed and physicality of NFL receivers.

Despite the rough start, there is no reason to worry about Milliner’s future. He will develop with more reps and experience, and a return to health would obviously be a big boost. Milliner will be a very good corner one day, but the Jets will have to be patient with him.

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DT Sheldon Richardson, 1st Round, 13th Overall

richardson
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Richardson is undoubtedly the star of the Jets’ rookie class. He has recorded 19 tackles and 1.5 sacks so far, and he has been absolutely dominant against the run. There were questions about Richardson’s ability to switch from a 4-3 DT to 3-4 DE, but he has quickly silenced every doubter.

Richardson is going to be a star, and the Jets hit a home run with this pick. He has combined with Muhammad Wilkerson to give the Jets one of the best pairs of defensive ends in the NFL, and it figures to stay that way for long time.

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QB Geno Smith, 2nd Round, 39th Overall

smith
Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

The Jets surprised some folks by passing on Smith with each of their first round picks, but when he fell to the second they were happy to scoop him up. Smith has looked like a rookie for much of this season, but he has also flashed the potential to be a franchise quarterback.

Smith needs to cut back big time on the turnovers, and he also needs to get the ball out of his hand faster. However, he has made some exceptional throws in his first four games, and he has the Jets at 2-2. His development remains the key storyline for the Jets’ season, and their future.

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LG Brian Winters, 3rd Round, 72nd Overall

winters
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Brian Winters was the first of three straight offensive linemen the Jets drafted, but he was forced to miss time this preseason with injury. Winters is big and athletic, and he has great potential. Vladimir Ducasse has been subpar, and there is a chance Winters will take over as the starter at some point this season.

Personally, I believe Winters should immediately be handed the starting position. It remains to be seen if the coaching staff has a similar opinion, but there is certainly no doubt the team views Winters as a long term starter.

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OT Oday Aboushi, 5th Round, 141st Overall & OG Will Campbell, 6th Round, 178th Overall

aboushi
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

I’m lumping these two together because their stories are identical. Both Oday Aboushi (above) and Will Campbell were mild surprises to make the team, but neither has been on the field yet this season, and it is unlikely either will play, barring injury.

Long term, both players are likely backups, especially with the Jets being comfortable for the future at four of their five offensive line spots. However, good backups on the line are an absolute necessity, and the Jets believe they could have two in these young linemen.

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FB Tommy Bohanon, 7th Round, 215th Overall

bohanon
The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports

With their final pick the Jets got a steal, taking fullback Tommy Bohanon. Bohanon quickly earned a starting position in camp, and the man nicknamed T-Bo (ironic, huh?) has quickly become a fan favorite. Bohanon is a very good lead blocker, and he has the ability to be a playmaker as well.

Bohanon has rushed 9 times for 29 yards this season and caught 6 passes for 44 yards, displaying some of his abilities with the ball in his hands. He could become an even bigger part of the offense as the season progresses. The Jets got a winner here, which is always a pleasant surprise in the final round.

Greg Sulik is a New York Jets writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @GregSulik or add him to your network on Google