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Kiper Says Jets' Draft Makes the Grade


One of the things I don't miss from my job in my previous life as a Jets beatwriter is grading each team's draft — the day after the draft is over. What a waste of my time and yours.

Really, what do we have when I assign a letter grade to the draft of each of the 16 AFC teams or someone else rates every team's draft? We have a person who didn't spend 100th (1,000th?) the amount of time on the draft as any one member of any one team's scouting department, sitting in judgment on the months of work of every team like some Nero Buchsbaum, pointing thumbs-up or thumbs-down based on the mere number of a team's picks or on whether he/she does or doesn't like the GM in question.

Yet there are exceptions.

Mel Kiper is one of the gold standards of draft analysis in the NFL universe, and he* does* spend as much time as the average player personnel person studying the draft. And so I sat up and took notice when the man, the hair, the legend passed an A-minus to the Jets for their three-player draft.

OK, I'm talking out of both sides of my mouth, but in Mel I trust. Here's what the ESPN and guru said of the Jets, to whom he gave his second-best grade out of the 32 marks he passed out Monday:

"The motto of the Jets' draft was quality over quantity. Mark Sanchez's selection made this team's draft because he's a franchise-maker. New coach Rex Ryan likes his defense, so the organization felt it could focus on the offense in his first draft. The Jets picked up Iowa running back Shonn Greene, who will fit into the rotation with Leon Washington and Thomas Jones. Guard Matthew Slauson was an OK pick in the sixth round, but the key to this draft is up top with Greene and Sanchez."

Now just as Mel's A-minus or someone else's D-plus means nothing until the drafted players show what they can do for a year or two or three, the following chart is also conclusive of nothing. But I still like it. It shows the 12 teams that have drafted four or fewer players in a year since the NFL college selection meeting decreased to seven rounds in 1994.

Of the 10 teams before the Jets took their three players and the Saints picked four this year, seven reached the playoffs by the second season after the draft in which they took so few players (playoff seasons in bold, Super Bowl-winning seasons in bold italics):

 Year Team Draftees Rec. Yr. 1 Rec. Year. 2
 1999 New Orleans 1 3-13 10-6
 1997 Denver 3 12-4 14-2
 1997 San Francisco 3 13-3 12-4
 2003 Washington 3 5-11 6-10
 2009 JETS 3 ..... .....
 1995 San Francisco 4 11-5 12-4
 1999 Baltimore 4 8-8 12-4
 2004 Washington 4 6-10 10-6
 2005 N.Y. Giants 4 11-5 8-8
 2007 JETS 4 4-12 9-7
 2007 Denver 4 7-9 8-8
 2009 New Orleans 4 ..... .....

What does it all mean? Hard to tell. Does a low-pick draft mean you have confidence in your overall personnel procurement and your team's proximity to a playoff season? I'm sure Mike Tannenbaum would have liked to have 13 draft picks instead of three this year. Perhaps next year he will. But as he said at the end of his Sunday postdraft news conference, "It's all about 'the Big O': Opportunity." (I thougth he was going to say Oscar Robertson.)

One other note about the above chart: Baltimore in 1999 was one of the teams that drafted just four players. (CB Chris McAlister was a Pro Bowler and WR Brandon Stokley and G Edwin Mulitalo have worked out pretty well.) The first-year defensive line coach on that Ravens outfit: Rex Ryan.

Cutting the Last Tie to No. 4

It sounds like a formality but it also brings closure to the Jets' relationship with Brett Favre.

Today the Jets released Favre from their Reserve–Retired list.

The Jets would have retained his rights as long as they kept him on the list. But now, if Favre wishes to return for his 19th season in the NFL, he would be a free agent.

But another Favre season doesn't seem likely from comments released by the Jets tonight. Said Mike Tannenbaum, the Jets' executive vice president/general manager:

"Brett requested his release some time ago. He has not indicated any desire to return to football and he remains retired. We wish him the best."

And Favre said in a statement also released by the team that his agent, Bus Cook, and Tannenbaum "have been talking about this for a while. Nothing has changed. At this time I am retired and have no intention of returning to football."

The Jets' release of Favre from Reserve–Retired does not change the terms of the trade with the Packers that brought Favre to the Jets last Aug. 6. The Jets sent their third-round pick, 83rd overall in the draft, to Green Bay in compensation for Favre. The Packers subsequently traded it to the New England Patriots, who drafted WR Brandon Tate from North Carolina on Sunday.

Woody Taking On the Bristol Blitz

You may happen to see or hear Damien Woody a few times Wednesday. That's OK. There is nothing wrong with your TVs or radios. Woody, the Jets' right tackle who's now being billed as one of the blockers for new Jets QB Mark Sanchez, is making a grand tour of ESPN's headquarters in Bristol, Conn.

Here is Woody's itinerary, in case you want to keep up with his whereabouts:

11:10 a.m. — First Take (ESPN2)

1:10 p.m. — The Herd with Colin Cowherd (ESPN Radio/ESPNU)

1:30 p.m. — Tirico & Van Pelt (ESPN Radio)

1:50 p.m. — Erik Kuselias (ESPN Radio)

2:40 p.m. — ESPNEWS Hot List

Five shows for a man who's started at four of the five O-line spots in his NFL career. I don't think ESPN will be able to blitz Woody.

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