Rex Ryan gives his New York Jets rookies an "A-plus" grade, despite the struggles and recent benchings of both Geno Smith and Dee Milliner.

Ryan says Wednesday that the team's rookie group "is about as strong a class I've ever seen," raving about having five of the team's draft picks performing as starters this season.

Defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson, the No. 13 overall pick, was the Jets' second draft selection and has had a terrific first season as one of the NFL's top defensive playmakers. But Milliner, No. 9 overall, and Smith, a second-rounder, have had major issues.

So have Brian Winters, a third-rounder who's starting at left guard, and fullback Tommy Bohanon, a seventh-rounder.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org