5 Most Exciting New York Jets Position Battles to Keep an Eye on This Summer

Chris Dela RosaContributor IApril 6, 2012

5 Most Exciting New York Jets Position Battles to Keep an Eye on This Summer

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    With the start of the NFL season a few months away, it’s never too early to take a peek at what’s in store for the New York Jets in 2012.

    After a mediocre and disappointing 2011, the Jets have some holes to fill in both their offense and defense. This is going to make for some nice position battles, as well as positions to keep an eye on after the draft in a few weeks as we enter the summer. 

    As always, feedback is welcome down below. 

    Enjoy!

Quarterback

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    Might as well start off with the one everyone saw coming and has been talking about since March 21, which is Mark Sanchez vs. Tim Tebow

    Both quarterbacks bring different qualities to the table. Sanchez is more of the traditional style quarterback with the ability to scramble when needed, while Tebow is a dual-threat guy who can use his arm but beat you with his feet as well.

    Since the media picked up this trade, speculation began as to who would be the starting quarterback. Following the trade with the Broncos to acquire Tebow, the Jets came out and let everybody know that Mark Sanchez is their guy. 

    The Jets' one mistake, they never said how long he will be their guy. Because of this analysts, fans and even former NFL stars everywhere began speculating when Sanchez would be out and when Tebow would be in as the Jets starting quarterback.

    Not much else needs to be said about these two, except that 2012 is definitely going to be an interesting and wild ride when it comes to the quarterback of the New York Jets.

Wide Receiver

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    One of the thinnest positions on the Jets at the moment is at receiver. 

    Plaxico Burress is currently an unrestricted free agent but his return is unlikely, meaning the three receivers that New York is left with are Santonio Holmes, Jeremy Kerley and Patrick Turner. 

    Of those three receivers, two started games last year. Holmes started from day one, while Kerley had to work his way up to starter and third-down man. Meanwhile, Turner is still trying to work his way to a starting role, now entering his fourth year in the league.

    A possible addition to the Jets receiving core is Notre Dame receiver Michael Floyd. Last season, the Jets had Plaxico Burress as their red-zone target, but with his days in green and white likely over, they need a guy that Sanchez (or Tebow) could find in the end zone.

    Since the Jets do not have many guys at receiver, this position may have less of a battle, but that does not take away from the fact that fans should keep an eye on what the Jets do to build around their quarterback.

Safeties

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    Earlier this offseason, the Jets made a peculiar move and signed LaRon Landry (pictured) to a one-year deal that will pay the safety $4 million. For the last few seasons, the safeties have been the Jets' weakness. With their veteran leader, Jim Leonhard, getting hurt mid-season in 2010 and 2011 (both season-ending leg injuries), that area of the secondary got even weaker.

    With this addition, it looks as if the Jets' starting safeties will be Landry and Eric Smith. Eric Smith has been getting a lot of flak over the last few seasons, as his play has not been at the level most have expected him to perform at. His inability to cover, mainly tight ends, led to a big hole in the Jets defense last year, as tight ends like Rob Gronkowski and Brent Celek went for big games against New York in 2011.

    It is unclear whether or not the Jets will bring Leonhard back in 2012, as he is an unrestricted free agent, and they are most likely waiting to see how healthy he will be once the season starts. 

    The Jets currently have the sophomore Tracy Wilson out of Northern Illinois at safety, who could make a play for a starting safety job in 2012, as no one’s starting job is currently secure there.

Right Tackle

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    Wayne Hunter did not produce like he was expected to in 2011 when he inherited the starting job from Damien Woody after the 2010 season. It looks as if Hunter will be returning to New York in 2012 even though he may not deserve to, but for the Jets' wallet, it was the best decision.

    As a result of his poor play, the Jets will probably be trying out different players at right tackle once mini-camps start, giving Hunter a chance to prove he still deserves the starting job. A possible replacement for Hunter is the third-year lineman Vladimir Ducasse, but that is only if he has improved. 

    In the last few preseasons, Ducasse has been given opportunities to prove his worth, but time and time again fails to show that the Jets made a good choice in drafting him.

    After Hunter failed to show up last season, it proved how crucial a solid offensive line can be, and in order for the Jets offensive line to be successful, like they were between 2007 and 2010, they are going to need someone better than Wayne Hunter. 

    Definitely keep an eye on who shuffles in and out at this position this summer.

Outside Linebacker

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    With the acquisition of Laron Landry mentioned earlier, the New York Jets are likely going to use their 16th overall pick on a top pass-rushing prospect, something they are in need of after being unable to get to the quarterback.

    A possible pick for the Jets is Courtney Upshaw out of Alabama. The outside linebacker/defensive end could work out well in Rex Ryan’s system if he lives up to the hype (unlike Vernon Gholston).

    His athleticism will allow Ryan and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine to move Upshaw around the defensive front like they did with Aaron Maybin last season, who was considered a bust when the Jets added him early last year but blossomed into a solid situational pass rusher.

    If the Jets were to draft Upshaw, he would have competition like veterans Calvin Pace, and Bryan Thomas who is coming off of an Achilles injury that ended his season in October against the Ravens. He will also have Aaron Maybin as competition, who will be looking to get some playing after stepping up in 2011. 

    No matter what happens, during the draft, this will be an interesting position to keep an eye on as the 2012 season approaches.