Predicting the Final New York Jets' 2012 53-Man Roster

Chris Dela RosaContributor IMay 14, 2012

Predicting the Final New York Jets' 2012 53-Man Roster

0 of 11

    With the 2012 NFL draft in our rear-view mirrors, it is safe to say the 2012 NFL season has officially started.  Rookies have begun to attend mini camps, undrafted free agents are getting their shot at professional football and veterans are getting back in the swing of things.

    Now that the draft is over and most of the free-agent signings that will be made have been made, we can begin to take a look at what the New York Jets roster is going to shape up to be when Sept. 9 arrives and it is time to take on the Buffalo Bills.

    Thinking about the final roster leaves us with questions like these: Who will be the starting right tackle this season? Who will start at safety?  Is there going to be any depth at wide receiver this year?

    Let's try to answer some of those questions and take a look at what the Jets' final 53-man roster is going to look like.

    Feedback is always welcome, so feel free to comment below.  Enjoy!

Quarterbacks

1 of 11

    QB

    1) Mark Sanchez

    2) Tim Tebow

    3) Greg McElroy

    Any NFL fan should get used to seeing these two in the same picture as the NFL season approaches.  Back in March, the Jets made a bold move and traded with the Denver Broncos for Tim Tebow.  Since joining the New York Jets, Tebow has gotten more attention than any other backup quarterback has ever gotten (i.e. press conference for an introduction).

    Either way, no matter how much attention these two get over the course of the next few years, this position is a no-brainer to sort out in terms of the depth chart.  It is the general consensus—and even Rex Ryan has said it—Mark Sanchez will be the starter, while Tebow will get plenty of snaps, but as the No. 2 guy.

    All that leaves is the third quarterback.  That third guy will likely be Greg McElroy, assuming he returns healthy this season after dislocating his right thumb last season, which ended his season.  The Jets chose not to release McElroy after his injury, and he traveled with the team and spent games on the sideline with his handy-dandy binder.  Based on the Jets' move to keep McElroy last year despite his injury, they probably expect him to be a solid backup if need be.

Running Backs, Fullbacks

2 of 11

    RB

    1) Shonn Greene

    2) Joe McKnight

    3) Bilal Powell

    FB

    1) John Conner

    2) Josh Baker

     

    This is another one of the easy positions to figure out who will be on the roster come Week 1 and who will be watching the games from their houses.

    Obviously, you have the two starters, running back Shonn Greene and fullback John Conner.  Greene had a solid year, rushing for 1,054 yards on 253 carries, scoring six touchdowns.  Meanwhile, Conner was a great blocker, as expected.

    Meanwhile, the Jets have a solid backup in Joe McKnight at running back. If the Jets choose to employ the power-speed combination they had back in 2008 with Thomas Jones and Leon Washington but with Greene and McKnight, the "ground and pound" could make a big return in 2012.  McKnight had a rough start in 2010 but blossomed as a kick returner and speed back in 2011, earning him the No. 2 spot.

    As for who the backup fullback will be, the Jets will likely move over former tight end Josh Baker, who has shown some talent at fullback, rather than spending more money on a free agent.

    The Jets will probably not carry a third fullback but may have a little competition brewing for the third running back spot.  This battle will be between the sophomore Bilal Powell and rookie Terrance Ganaway.  As of right now, Powell has the edge on the rookie—he is a more versatile back that knows the system and showed potential during preseason last year.  Ganaway, on the other hand, is more of another power back like Greene and needs to show some speed or else he could see himself on the practice squad or cut.

Wide Receivers

3 of 11

    WR

    1) Santonio Holmes

    2) Jeremy Kerley

    3) Stephen Hill

    4) Patrick Turner

    5) Chaz Schilens

     

    My favorite New York Jets pick coming out of this year's draft can be found in the photo for this slide.  Stephen Hill, the rookie wide receiver, is certainly a promising guy going into the 2012 season.  He is a big guy with playmaking abilities and is fast—exactly what the Jets needed at the wide receiver position going into the draft last month.  Barring anything substantial like an injury or suspension, Hill should be a guy that will see the field from the start of the season, making a nice new target for Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow in the red zone.

    As for the other gentlemen that will be in the Jets receiver corps next year, there is Jeremy Kerley and Santonio Holmes.  Holmes, who had a horrible outburst in the middle of the huddle during the Jets' final game last season, will be retuning to New York and has been working to repair his relationship with quarterback Mark Sanchez.  No matter what happened last season, Holmes is still the most talented receiver on the Jets and will obviously be their No. 1 guy.  

    Next, we have Jeremy Kerley, who began to start as a slot receiver on the Jets a few weeks into the season, and what a great decision that was.  Kerley is a receiver that is quick in his cuts and can come up big when a first down is needed, and with that the Jets have their No. 2 guy.

    As for the men that will be playing behind Holmes, Kerley and Hill, there is the perennial backup Patrick Turner, who is always reliable when someone goes down.  The Jets will also likely keep the five-year veteran Chaz Schilens on as their fifth receiver.

Tight End

4 of 11

    TE

    1) Dustin Keller

    2) Jeff Cumberland

    3) Hayden Smith

     

    The picture pretty much sums this one up: Dustin Keller.  In 2011, Keller was Mark Sanchez's favorite receiver and for a good reason, too: Keller is just flat-out talented.  Last season he caught 65 passes for 815 yards with five touchdowns.  He is the most talented tight end on the Jets roster right now, and unless they sign a player like Antonio Gates, it will be that way for a while.

    As for his backups, the Jets parted ways with Matthew "Needs Another" Mulligan, who could not play without being penalized at all in 2011.  Their No. 2 guy will be the three-year veteran Jeff Cumberland.  Cumberland suffered a season-ending injury in Week 3 of the 2011 season when the Jets played against the Oakland Raiders, but should return healthy.

    The third tight end on the Jets roster is going to be a former rugby player, Hayden Smith, who has been showing potential in the Jets' rookie mini camp.

Offensive Line

5 of 11

    Offensive Line

    1) Nick Mangold C

    2) D'Brickashaw Ferguson LT

    3) Brandon Moore RG

    4) Matt Slauson LG

    5) Wayne Hunter RT

    6) Vladimir Ducasse OT/OG

    7) Caleb Schlauderaff OG

    8) Robert T. Griffin OT

     

    If there is one area that has solid production year in and year out as the minimum, it is the offensive line.  For anyone that watched the Jets last year, they will know this right now, figuring out who will be on the roster as starters is a no-brainer at four positions.  D'Brickashaw Ferguson will start at left tackle, Matt Slauson at left guard, Nick Mangold at center and Brandon Moore at right guard.

    The main uncertainty is at right tackle, where Wayne Hunter struggled last season.  He dealt with a lot of one-on-one matchups last season and could not hold his weight.  Don't believe me? Check out what Von Miller did to him so he could sack Mark Sanchez and ice a game.  

    Hunter will likely be competing with Vladimir Ducasse for the starting right tackle position.  Ducasse, who is entering his third season as a pro, has not had it much easier as his preseason woes continued in 2011. He will have to be impressive this August in order to get that starting job.

    Meanwhile, the Jets will keep a guy like Caleb Schlauderaff to be a backup guard if they face injury problems on the offensive line like they did last year.  They will also probably keep Robert T. Griffin, one of their draft selections, as an emergency backup tackle.

Defensive Line

6 of 11

    Defensive Line

    1) Sione Pouha NT

    2) Muhammed Wilkerson RE

    3) Quinton Coples LE

    4) Mike DeVito DE

    5) Kenrick Ellis DT

    6) Marcus Dixon DE

    7) Martin Tevaseu DT

     

    With the drafting of a guy like Quinton Coples, a lot of talk began circulating that the Jets would dump Mike DeVito in order to free up cap space.  In fact, the opposite happened, DeVito and the Jets re-worked his contact that has resulted in a pay cut of $610,000, but DeVito will remain a Jet.  

    This is one of the first signs that tells fans and speculators the Jets are looking for Coples to come in this season in a big role and perform.  He is a great athlete with excellent pass-rush abilities, exactly what the Jets need out of defensive end.  With that, one side of the defensive line is taken care of, and the rookie out of North Carolina will start as one of the Jets defensive ends, while the veteran DeVito will still get some playing time, but will likely be thrown in during obvious running situations as that is where he performs best.

    As for the other defensive ends the Jets have their first-round pick from last season, Muhammad Wilkerson, who was a nice addition last season.  He is not a standout guy but is able to give a good performance on a consistent basis, earning him the starting position once again.  

    The Jets will also likely bring on Marcus Dixon as a backup in case someone goes down due to injury this season.

    On to nose tackle now. This one is pretty obvious—the starter will be Sione Pouha.  Pouha and the Jets reached an agreement back in March on a three-year deal that is worth $15 million, with $9.5 million in guaranteed money.  Pouha's backup will be the sophomore and last year's biggest disappointment Kenrick Ellis.  Ellis was considered a steal coming out of the 2011 NFL draft, but after sustaining several injuries over the course of the season and only playing in a few games, he did not have much of an impact.  

    In case Ellis has a similar 2012 as he did in 2011, look for the Jets to also bring on Martin Tevaseu as a third nose tackle.

Linebackers

7 of 11

    ILBs

    1) David Harris

    2) Bart Scott

    3) Josh Mauga

    4) Demario Davis

    5) Nick Bellore

    OLBs

    1) Calvin Pace

    2) Bryan Thomas

    3) Aaron Maybin

    4) Garrett McIntyre

     

    Going into the 2012 season, the Jets linebacker group is going to be alright.  On one hand, you have talented guys like David Harris and Bart Scott, but then you have aging guys like Bryan Thomas and Calvin Pace that even out how they will perform.

    The inside linebackers for 2012 are pretty much set.  Unless someone suffers a major injury, David Harris, who was snubbed of a Pro Bowl appearance in 2011, and Bart Scott will be the Jets' middle backers.  

    Their backups are pretty set as well.  There is Josh Mauga, who has turned into a solid backup after getting several snaps in during the regular season last year when Harris and Scott had to leave the game for very minor injuries. 

    And there is also Nick Bellore, who  will be watching the games from the bench with Mauga. Bellore was a coaches' favorite last season and did well on special teams. As long as he keeps showing potential he will have a spot as a backup.  

    The third and last backup the Jets will keep is Demario Davis.   Davis was the Jets' third-round pick and is coming into this season with some hype.  A few weeks ago, Rex Ryan compared Davis to Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, only making Jets fans expect so much more of this young man from Arkansas State.

    As for the outside linebackers, the two aging players I mentioned earlier will be the starters again.  Bryan Thomas and Calvin Pace have had solid play for the last two years, but I have been saying this since last year and will continue to say it: The Jets need some more effective and younger players at the outside linebacker position.  

    The Jets will also have former Buffalo Bills "bust" Aaron "Mayhem" Maybin playing outside linebacker, mainly in passing situations as the Jets were able to get some great play out of Maybin last season.  

    Expect them to also have Garrett McIntyre as a backup.

Cornerbacks

8 of 11

    Cornerbacks

    1) Darrelle Revis

    2) Antonio Cromartie

    3) Kyle Wilson

    4) Ellis Lankster

    5) Isaiah Trufant

    6) Ryan Steed

     

    The Jets have one of the best cornerback trios in the National Football League: Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson.  Revis and Cromartie do not really need any explanation as Revis is the best cornerback in the league and Cromartie is easily in the top 10.  Meanwhile, there is Kyle Wilson, who is entering his third season in the NFL and is emerging as a great cornerback under Revis and Cromartie's guidance. 

    The only speculation that really needs to go on with this position is who the other players will be that fill up the Jets' depth chart at cornerback.  Last year's savior against the Cowboys, Isaiah Trufant came up big on this Joe McKnight-blocked punt and will likely get a spot as he was a solid special teams player last year.  

    Getting some special teams play time this year with Trufant will be Ellis Lankster, who played a similar role last year.  

    The last player the Jets will probably bring on is rookie Ryan Steed, an undrafted free agent out of Furman.  Steed showed potential in the first few rookie mini camps and could find his way on the Jets roster come September.

Safeties

9 of 11

    Safeties

    1) Eric Smith

    2) LaRon Landry

    3) Tracy Wilson

    4) Antonio Allen

     

    Quite possibly the biggest weakness for the New York Jets right now is their safeties.  

    Last year, they lost their voice in the secondary Jim Leonhard to a season-ending leg injury for the second year in a row, leaving Eric Smith and Brodney Pool to try to pick up the pieces.  Smith has been starter for a few years and Pool was signed as a free agent before the season started as a Band-Aid, but they could not produce.  They failed to cover tight ends and come up and make tackles on big plays (i.e. Tim Tebow's fourth-quarter touchdown that gave his team another late victory).

    The Jets have tried to remedy the situation by parting ways with Pool, keeping Smith (who was a captain last year, do not ask me why) and making a few additions.  One of the additions is former Redskins safety LaRon Landry, a hard-hitting, physical guy that could be a nice pickup.  They also drafted two guys: Antonio Allen and Josh Bush.  

    Landry will likely play alongside Smith this season with Tracy Wilson as a backup and Antonio Allen as the worst-case scenario backup.  

    You may be wondering why Allen over Bush.  Allen is a more physical guy, he is coming out of a system at South Carolina where he played a linebacker/safety hybrid position and is just a bigger guy compared to Bush, who is undersized and better suited as a cornerback.

    One of the bigger mysteries around this position is whether or not Jim Leonhard is going to return.  As of right now, there has not been much news regarding Leonhard and the Jets, and considering the slew of players the Jets are looking at this position, the two parties are probably going to go their separate ways. 

Special Teams

10 of 11

    Special Teams

    1) Nick Folk K

    2) T.J. Conley P

    3) Tanner Purdum LS

    3) Joe McKnight/Antonio Cromartie KR

    4) Joe McKnight PR

     

    The Jets are trying to get a good old-fashioned competition at the kicker position between Nick Folk and Josh Brown.  

    On May 1, the Jets signed Brown after he was cut by the St. Louis Rams.  Folk should be able to get through training camp without worrying about his job too much.  Last year was no different for him, as he was in a competition with Nick Novak for the kicker position, and even after a slow start he pulled through.  Folk has also come through in the clutch for the Jets several times, like during Week 1 of the 2011 season when he kicked a game-winning field goal to cap off an incredible comeback victory, or Week 9 of the 2010 season when he kicked a game-winner in Detroit in overtime to start a Jets winning streak that would continue through Week 12. 

    Meanwhile, the other positions do not have much intrigue to them as the players will remain the same as last year.  T.J. Conley will be the punter, Joe McKnight and Antonio Cromatie will return kickoffs while McKnight returns punts, and Tanner Purdum will longsnap. 

Final 53-Man Roster

11 of 11

    Once again, here is my final 53-man roster.

    QB

    1) Mark Sanchez

    2) Tim Tebow

    3) Greg McElroy

    RB

    1) Shonn Greene

    2) Joe McKnight

    3) Bilal Powell

    FB

    1) John Conner

    2) Josh Baker

    WR

    1) Santonio Holmes

    2) Jeremy Kerley

    3) Stephen Hill

    4) Patrick Turner

    5) Chaz Schilens

    TE

    1) Dustin Keller

    2) Jeff Cumberland

    3) Hayden Smith

    Offensive Line

    1) Nick Mangold

    2) D'Brickashaw Ferguson LT

    3) Brandon Moore RG

    4) Matt Slauson LG

    5) Wayne Hunter RT

    6) Vladimir Ducasse OT/OG

    7) Caleb Schlauderaff OG

    8) Robert T. Griffin OT

    Defensive Line

    1) Sione Pouha NT

    2) Muhammad Wilkerson RE

    3) Quinton Coples LE

    4) Mike DeVito DE

    5) Kenrick Ellis DT

    6) Marcus Dixon DE

    7) Martin Tevaseu DT

    ILBs

    1) David Harris

    2) Bart Scott

    3) Josh Mauga

    4) Demario Davis

    5) Nick Bellore

    OLBs

    1) Calvin Pace

    2) Bryan Thomas

    3) Aaron Maybin

    4) Garrett McIntyre

    Cornerbacks

    1) Darrelle Revis

    2) Antonio Cromartie

    3) Kyle Wilson

    4) Ellis Lankster

    5) Isaiah Trufant

    6) Ryan Steed

    Safeties

    1) Eric Smith

    2) LaRon Landry

    3) Tracy Wilson

    4) Antonio Allen

    Special Teams

    1) Nick Folk K

    2) T.J. Conley P

    3) Tanner Purdum LS

    3) Joe McKnight/Antonio Cromartie KR

    4) Joe McKnight PR

     

    All statistics are courtesy of ESPN.com

    Don't forget to follow me on Twitter!