What to Expect from Jets' 2012 Rookie Class in 2013
With the New York Jets coming off two straight seasons without a postseason appearance and possessing gaping holes at several significant positions, including quarterback, it is clear that the franchise is in a rebuilding stage.
The draft for New York has become even more important. If they fail to develop young talent, they could be in the league cellar for years to come.
Here are projections for each of the rookies on the Jets' current roster.
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Antonio Allen didn't receive a ton of playing time in his rookie season, as LaRon Landry, Yeremiah Bell and Eric Smith firmly held the top three spots on the depth chart at safety.
The rookie recorded just six tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery in 2012.
However, Eric Smith is expected to be cut to free up salary cap room, and both Bell and Landry are due to become free agents this offseason.
The Jets are likely to re-sign both, or either, of the two veterans. As a result, Allen's playing time could significantly increase next year.
The South Carolina product needs to drastically improve in man-to-man coverage if he is to be successful with more time on the field, but he has the size (6'1", 210 lbs) and tackling ability to make an impact.
Either way, Allen should record more than six tackles in his sophomore season.
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Like Allen, Josh Bush is a young, developing safety who didn't receive much playing time in his rookie season, but should see much more snaps next year.
Bush recorded 11 tackles in his rookie season, but he has the ability to make much more of an impact in his sophomore year.
The Wake Forest product has terrific speed (sub-4.5 40), so he can make up ground easily in coverage. Bush also possesses ball-hawk ability, as he recorded six interceptions in his senior year at college.
Bush and Allen won't be the starting duo next year, but the two youngsters should be key contributors in New York's solid secondary.
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Quinton Coples was quietly dominant when on the field in his rookie season.
The Jets' 2012 first-round pick, who was considered a potential bust in April, recorded 30 tackles, 5.5 sacks and two pass deflections in limited playing time.
Coples possesses rare speed for his size, and he managed to have his way with offensive lineman throughout his freshman season.
With Mike DeVito potentially out of the picture next year (he is an unrestricted free agent this offseason), Coples should see a drastic increase in snaps.
If things break right for the former North Carolina star, he could even start in his second year.
After a solid rookie season, Coples enters 2013 with sky-high expectations, as many fans are predicting double-digit sacks for the 22-year-old.
After a quiet start, DeMario Davis recorded a solid 31 tackles in limited playing time in the team's final 11 games.
Davis is a terrific player on and off the field, as he is a quiet leader in the locker room, as well as a sideline-to-sideline effort player in practice and in games.
The 24-year-old will make an even bigger impact in his sophomore season, as Bart Scott is expected to be released, and Josh Mauga is coming off a serious torn pectoral muscle.
If the Arkansas State graduate performs well in minicamp and training camp, he could start opposite Davis Harris at inside linebacker in his sophomore season.
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Donnie Fletcher didn't have much of an impact in 2012, and by that, I mean he didn't record a single tackle in three games.
Fletcher went undrafted in last year's draft, and he was signed as a free agent by the Jets in April. The team released and re-signed Fletcher multiple times throughout the season, but he managed to make it on the active roster at the end of the year.
The 22-year-old doesn't have much of a chance to make an impact next season, as Gang Green is loaded at cornerback.
The Boston College product will have to impress in the offseason if he is to make it out of training camp and onto the active roster in 2013.
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Damon Harrison is another rookie who didn't record a single tackle in 2012.
However, the behemoth defensive tackle managed to stay on the roster for five games.
Harrison's presence on the team's active roster can be attributed to the Jets' thinness at defensive tackle due to lingering injuries to Kenrick Ellis and Sione Pouha.
However, both Pouha and Ellis are expected to be healthy by training camp, which means Harrison will have to perform well if he wants to stay on the 2013 squad.
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Injuries, inconsistencies and dropped balls plagued Stephen Hill throughout his rookie season and diminished his promising start with the team.
After five catches, 89 yards and two touchdowns in his NFL debut, Hill recorded just 16 receptions, 163 yards and a single touchdown the rest of the year.
Hill's rookie season has been seen as a disappointment by some, but the former Georgia Tech wideout was unanimously considered to raw to make much of an impact in his first year in the league last preseason.
The 21-year-old still has to improve his hands and route running significantly, but he possesses the speed and size to make a bigger impact in his sophomore season.
Expect Hill to be the No. 3 receiving option in New York's offense in 2013 behind Jeremy Kerley and Santonio Holmes.
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Hayden Smith, the former Australian rugby player, had just one catch for 16 yards in his first year in the league.
However, Smith could have the chance to make much more of an impact in his second season.
Dustin Keller is a free agent and is likely too expensive for the team to re-sign, and Jeff Cumberland doesn't possess the talent to carry the tight end position by himself.
Unless New York makes a significant upgrade at tight end in the draft or free agency, Smith should make the roster as the No. 2 or 3 option at the position.
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Jordan White was drafted in the seventh round, released, then claimed back by New York at different times last year.
The 24-year-old only recorded one catch in his rookie season, but he possesses immense potential.
The wide receiver recorded an incredible 140 catches, 1,911 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns in his senior season at Western Michigan in 2011.
White may not possess the size or speed to be an elite NFL wideout, but in such a receiver-needy team like the Jets, he could develop into a solid contributor.
If he impresses in training camp and in the preseason, White could become the team's No. 4 wide receiver in his sophomore season.