Sunday, April 26, 2009

Breaking Down the Jets Draft: Shonn Greene, Running Back

With two big moves in the 2009 NFL Draft, the Jets showed they were worried about quality not quantity when it cam to draft strategy.

After trading up for Mark Sanchez in round 1, GM Mike Tannenbaum and Head Coach Rex Ryan decided to roll the dice again and bundle most of the rest of their 2009 picks in a bid to grab arguably the top remaining running back left on the board, Iowa Hawkeye Shonn Greene.

With many Jets fans wondering what is so special about Greene, here is my analysis of the newest Gang Green power running back and how he might fit in the new regime's plans.

Ht: 5-10 (1/2) - Wt 227

Greene is an incredibly powerful runner, who can not only show patience in waiting for a hole to develop and the vision to see it happening, but is very tough to bring down for the defense. When they do drag him down, he'll get you that extra distance more by falling forward. He also gets stronger as the game goes on and doesn't easily tire out.

Even though he is older than your average rookie (at 24), he actually doesn't have much wear and tear on those legs. He doesn't cough the ball up, is a very hard worker and a solid team player.

While he is a very good inside runner, he has problems getting outside and turning the corner. He's not terribly fast and he won't be winning any footraces against most defenders.

There are some doubts about his football IQ and while he shows patience waiting for a play to develop, he sometimes appears indecisive. As he missed some games with shoulder and knee injuries early in his career and has had ankle injuries during his college career.

How It Comes Together
Many feel this pick was a shot across Thomas Jones' bow to end his holdout, but I don't know that's the case. Erik Boland put it best in his Jets Blog on Newsday - even if Jones wasn't holding out, the guy is 31.

The classic thought on running backs is that 30 is the beginning of the end and while Jones has continued to play well, how much tread does he have left? Boland is right - they needed to get younger at the position and look towards the future.

If Jones holds out, the Jets bring Greene in and run him between the tackles while Leon Washington continues to work the outside. Greene can wear the defense down and then Washington can light them up.

If Jones doesn't hold out, or if Greene struggles in camp, he can still rotate in on occasion and give Jones a breather throughout the season as he gets his NFL legs.

And when Jones is done, Greene can move into the backfield with a year of experience and get the hard yards.

Either way I think Greene has a very good chance to be the future power back in an offense that will be geared to the power run behind an offensive line that is built to succeed in the arena.

This will also take pressure off Mark Sanchez if he starts this year or Kellen Clemens if Sanchez gets a year holding a clipboard.

The biggest question is whether the Jets bypassed bigger needs with the trade (there were several solid defensive linemen they could have drafted at that spot or later if they didn't trade up) or if they gave up too much to move up from their position in the third to the top of the round.

Time will tell. What is certain is the fact that the Jets saw an opportunity to jump up and grab at the brass ring not once but twice.

In what is considered an overall weak draft class, they decided that it wasn't how many picks they had or how many rookies they could throw on the field, but instead the quality of those players and what they could mean for the franchise in the long term.

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