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NFL New York Jets

Grading New York Jets’ Rookies at Halfway Point

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Grading New York Jets' Rookies at Halfway Point

smith
The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports

We have reached the halfway point of the NFL season, meaning that the New York Jets’ seven man rookie class now has their first eight games under their belt. The 2013 draft was a big one for the Jets, because it marked the beginning of a rebuilding project following two consecutive disappointing seasons.

The headliner of the Jets’ draft was of course quarterback Geno Smith, who was selected in the second round to be the Jets’ quarterback of the future. Smith has been up and down through the first half of the season, but he looks like he could become a very good player.

The Jets had two first round picks, and they went defense with both, choosing cornerback Dee Milliner and defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson. They have had mixed results, as Richardson has been excellent but Milliner has struggled.

The Jets rounded out their draft with three consecutive offensive linemen before taking fullback Tommy Bohanon with their final pick. As with all later picks, expectations weren’t particularly high, but the Jets have found a couple winners.

Half of a season is not enough to evaluate what a rookie’s career trajectory will be, so please don’t take these grades as that. This is simply an evaluation of the production each of these players has provided through the first eight games.

There is still plenty of time for the ones who have struggled to turn it around, and I fully expect that several of them, particularly Milliner, will do just that. The Jets look like they did a solid job with this draft class, and GM John Idzik should be pleased with his work. The Jets hope that these players can continue to improve and be the foundation for future success.

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CB Dee Milliner, 1st Round, 9th Overall

milliner
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Jets drafted Milliner to replace Darrelle Revis, but he has had a world of trouble adjusting to the NFL. He missed three games with a hamstring injury, and he has been benched twice. When he has been on the field, he has looked physically overmatched.

Milliner has a lot of work to do to become a solid starting corner, and the Jets have been disappointed in what they’ve seen so far. He will continue to learn, and a full offseason with an NFL strength training program will do wonders for him. Milliner has struggled quite a bit, but there is still every reason to be optimistic about his future.

Grade: C-

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DT Sheldon Richardson, 1st Round, 13th Overall

richardson
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

There were a lot of questions about Richardson and his fit with the Jets, but he has silenced every doubter and then some. Richardson has been a dominant force on the Jets’ defensive line both against the run and the pass, and he is going to be a star in this league.

Richardson was the player the Jets drafted with the pick they acquired for Revis, and it was crucial that they get it right. Idzik hit a home run with this one, and Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson should anchor one of the league’s best defensive lines for a long time.

Grade: A

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QB Geno Smith, 2nd Round, 39th Overall

smith
Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

Smith has been a roller coaster in his rookie season, and the Jets have alternated wins and losses every game. Smith has been very turnover prone, but he has also flashed the talent that makes him look like a potential star.

Smith still has a ton to learn, and he obviously needs to fix his turnover issues. However, he is the Jets’ quarterback of the future, and they are going to build around him. Smith should get better as the season continues to progress, and the Jets hope that he can lead them back to the playoffs.

Grade: B

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LG Brian Winters, 3rd Round, 72nd Overall

winters
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Brian Winters took over as the starting left guard in Week 5, and he has had his share of problems adjusting. Winters is certainly an improvement over Vladimir Ducasse, and he could become a very solid player in the future. However, he needs to get much stronger, and he needs to adjust to the speed of the NFL game.

The Jets expect Winters to be a fixture on their line for a long time, but he remains the weak link in the present. The Jets need Winters to really improve as the season progresses and the weather gets colder, because offensive lines are what win football games late in the season and in the playoffs.

Grade: C

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

aboushi
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Oday Aboushi and Will Campbell get lumped together because they are pretty much the same. Neither player has been activated yet, and neither will this season, barring a rash of injuries on the offensive line. The Jets see both players as solid backups in the future, but they are simply not ready to contribute yet.

Grade: Incomplete

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FB Tommy Bohanon, 7th Round, 215th Overall

bohanon
Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

The Jets found a good one with their last pick, and Bohanon has been the starting fullback since early in camp. He is an effective lead blocker, and he has shown some skill with the ball in his hands as well. Bohanon is another player who could use a full offseason with an NFL strength and conditioning coach, but that is a minor concern.

The Jets would be well served to try to use his receiving skills more as the season progresses, and he could see some extra work as a short yardage back. The Jets got a steal in the 7th round, and Bohanon should hold down the fullback spot for a long time.

Grade: B+

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