Breaking Down the New York Jets' Depth Chart After the Peak of Free Agency

John Shea@real_johnsheaContributor IIIMarch 24, 2013

Breaking Down the New York Jets' Depth Chart After the Peak of Free Agency

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    New general manager John Idzik is tearing down the New York Jets and starting over. The early stage of free agency was a strong indication of the direction the franchise has chosen to take.

    Last season's version of the Jets, in terms of roster construction, was a sad attempt to revamp an old formula that had landed the team in the AFC title game for consecutive seasons.

    Now, the remains are left over and the rebuilding process is in full force.

    The Jets lack depth at several key positions on offense and defense. They're deprived of playmakers, specifically on offense, and have a crumbling defense that currently features just four starters from last season, barring a seemingly inevitable trade involving star cornerback Darrelle Revis.

    The following is a breakdown of the Jets' 53-man depth chart that assesses the potential outlook for each position in 2013.


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    The biggest cloud hanging over the Jets this offseason is Revis.

    Owner Woody Johnson has been obnoxious in voicing his team's need to trade its best player. This is the same owner that publicly stated he'd rather see Mitt Romney win the presidency than the Jets win a Super Bowl.

    The line needs to be drawn somewhere. Trading Revis is arguably a good decision from a future-laden standpoint, but it would devastate a formerly formidable secondary.

    The Jets currently have seven players charted at cornerback, including Revis, but the talent pool is thin. Kyle Wilson would default to No. 2 on the depth chart if Revis were traded and would play opposite Antonio Cromartie.

    The remainder of the team's depth at cornerback is limited to Isaiah Trufant, Aaron Berry, Ellis Lankster, Darrin Wells and Donnie Fletcher.

    Those names don't exactly spit fear into opposing quarterbacks.


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    The Jets' core of safeties is weak after losing Pro Bowl stud LaRon Landry and veteran Yeremiah Bell in free agency.

    Sophomore scrubs Antonio Allen and Josh Bush are currently slotted as the team's top two safeties, although that will change before training camp.

    Collegiate prospects T.J. McDonald and Shamarko Thomas are potential draft targets, but the Jets should experience a dramatic decline at that position, in terms of ability, regardless.

    The Jets don't seem destined to spend big on any one player, so it's unlikely for a high-caliber free agent to fill the void. Instead, they'll look to consume the depth chart with low-cost players.

    Bret Lockett, Jaiquawn Jarrett and Eric Crocker fill up the Jets' band of safeties, players of which have combined for 24 total tackles since 2009.

Inside Linebacker

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    The landscape of linebackers in green and white is about to change in 2013.

    Sophomore inside linebacker DeMario Davis earned a sudden promotion after the Jets opted to outright release Bart Scott.

    Davis has received strong praise from head coach Rex Ryan and will play opposite David Harris, who struggled last season despite recording decent numbers on the stat sheet.

    Harris has seemingly been granted a "do-over," largely because of his big contract and unavoidable cap hit. The Jets most desperate need at linebacker is outside, but they're not deep inside, either.

    Josh Mauga and Nick Bellore sit second-tier on the depth chart; neither is considered to be a potential difference-maker. Bellore combined for 10 tackles last season while Mauga played just 50 snaps.

    The Jets are banking on Davis and Harris, which is a less-than-ideal scenario for a quickly diminishing defense.

Outside Linebacker

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    The Jets are hoping former Charger Antwan Barnes can help resurrect a pass-rushing machine that went dormant in 2012.

    Barnes totaled nine combined tackles, three sacks, two stuffs and two fumble recoveries in 11 games last season.

    Barnes' season was devastated by a hamstring injury that limited his production, eventually forcing him onto injured reserve in December.

    He's a prominent pass-rushing threat when healthy, though. He racked up 41 combined tackles and 11 sacks in 2011. The veteran linebacker knows how to get after the quarterback. The Jets are just hopeful he can stay on the field.

    Garrett McIntyre is currently slotted opposite Barnes at outside linebacker. That is expected to change, however, when the draft takes place. The Jets need to revamp a stagnant pass rush, and this season's crop of edge-rushers is deep with perennial talent.

    Barkevious Mingo, Dion Jordan and Jarvis Jones have all been linked to the Jets in various mock drafts. Edge-rusher is among the team's most prominent needs.

Defensive End

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    The Jets have a strong foundation in place at defensive end for the foreseeable future.

    Muhammad Wilkerson is on the verge of becoming top-tier at his position, and Quinton Coples flashed signs of serious upside toward the end of last season.

    Wilkerson combined for 70 tackles last season.

    He recorded five sacks, four stuffs, three forced fumbles and a blocked kick in 2012. He's a playmaker on defense who sustains a relentless style of game play.

    Coples had a decent rookie season, racking up 30 tackles, 5.5 sacks and five stuffs. He has the potential to develop into a prominent pass-rusher, but needs to become better against the run.

    Tevita Finau is the only depth the Jets currently flaunt behind Wilkerson and Copes. It should be priority for Idzik to add depth to the defensive front before training camp, but the team also faces other urgent needs.

Nose Tackle

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    The Jets opted to release veteran nose tackle Sione Pouha in an effort to conserve cap space, creating a void in the trenches.

    Pouha provided leadership and stability on the defensive front, but he succumbed to back problems that forced him to miss significant playing time in 2012.

    The Jets also lost Mike DeVito in free agency, who had the ability to play inside, despite being a defensive end in Ryan's 3-4 base. The culmination of those departures leave the Jets thin up front.

    Third-year player Kenrick Ellis isn't good enough to start. He's been slow to develop and remains unproven.

    Idzik made it known that Ellis needs to improve before having the chance to start by signing Antonio Garay, an injury-laden player who has managed to play in all 16 regular-season games just twice in his seven-year career.

    His best season-long performance happened in 2010, when he combined for 48 tackles, 5.5 sacks and four stuffs. The Jets would be ecstatic if Garay could somehow rekindle that kind of success.

    He could have a serious impact if he's able to stay on the field.

Special Teams

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    The Jets re-signed veteran kicker Nick Folk to another one-year deal two weeks ago. Folk is a consistent player who ascertains expectations each season.

    He converted 77.8 percent of his field-goal attempts last season, his highest conversion rate since 2008 when he drilled 90.9 percent of his kicks for the Dallas Cowboys.

    Folk has pinned down at least 76 percent of his attempts in each of the three season he's spent with the Jets. There was virtually no reason for the team to replace him at kicker.

    It also didn't make sense to replace long snapper Tanner Purdum or punter Robert Malone, who averaged 45.8 yards per punt on 84 tries in 2012. Purdem has also proven to be dependable, thus earning a two-year deal.

Offensive Guard

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    The Jets will lose both starting offensive guards this offseason when Matt Slauson signs elsewhere.

    Slauson hasn't been heavily courted in free agency, prompting the slight possibility of a return, although the Cowboys are rumored to be in contact, according to ESPN Dallas.

    Idzik has already taken the initiative to replace veteran leader Brandon Moore, who was a class act throughout his tenure as a Jet. The team brought in former Steeler Willie Colon, who hasn't played a full season since 2009, to fill the void. He's played in just 13 games over the past two seasons.

    The 29-year-old has chronic knee problems and shouldn't be considered a sure thing up front for the Jets; nor should draft bust Vladimir Ducasse, who could start opposite Colon in 2013.

    Dennis Landolt is the only other guard on the roster, which signifies an issue of depth at guard, which means the team will look toward drafting an interior lineman at some juncture of the draft.


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    The Jets are solid at center as long as Nick Mangold is in uniform. He's arguably the best center in the NFL.

    At least, archrival Vince Wilfork thinks so, declaring that he's held Mangold in that regard since his rookie season.

    Mangold has missed just two games in his seven-year career. He's dependable and durable, and he can effectively man his position at 6'3'' and 295 pounds. He's an athletic player who efficiently protects the pocket in dropback situations, and he is also an above-average run-blocker.

    Mangold anchors the Jets O-line and represents some degree of stability on a roster currently in flux.

    Caleb Schlauderaff is second on the depth chart behind Mangold. He's an inexperienced fill player who has seen the field in six games over his first two seasons as a pro. The former sixth-round pick brings size to the table at 6'4'' and 305 pounds, but he's an average talent at best.

    Center remains one of the few untouched positions on the Jets' roster this offseason.

Offensive Tackle

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    Offensive tackle was a huge issue for the Jets in 2011, when former exterior lineman Wayne Hunter played turnstile for edge-rushers.

    Embattled, second-rate quarterback Mark Sanchez can't be blamed for bad pass protection.

    Austin Howard helped to solidify the right side of the Jets O-line in 2012, exceeding expectations in his first season as a starter. Howard has the size and tenacity necessary to be a rock on the offensive front for the foreseeable future.

    Howard can't be manhandled at 6'7'' and 333 pounds. The 26-year-old has taken leaping strides toward becoming a dependable player, but he still has more to prove in 2013.

    He'll play opposite veteran left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson, who hasn't missed a game in his seven-year career. Ferguson, a three-time Pro Bowler, is one of the most dependable O-lineman in the NFL.

    D.J. Young serves as the only depth behind Ferguson and Howard at offensive tackle. He's bounced around from team to team in the first three years of his career, and remains unproven.

Tight End

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    The Jets are officially void of a playmaking tight end after losing dependable target Dustin Keller to the Miami Dolphins in free agency.

    Idzik was arrogant not to at least put an offer on the table for Keller, who missed most of last season due to injury, but was still among the Jets' most efficient receivers in terms of receptions per target (28-of-36).

    Jeff Cumberland is suddenly in line as the top tight end on the team's depth chart, but his status is contingent upon April's draft. He's coming off his most successful season as a receiver, reeling in 29 catches on 53 targets for 359 yards and three touchdowns.

    He's a big target at 6'4'' and 249 pounds. He's also only 25 years old and sustains some degree of upside in terms of receiving prowess, although he's reputed as a blocking tight end.

    Cumberland is backed by Konrad Reuland and former rugby star Hayden Smith on the depth chart.

    Reuland would see a dramatic rise in playing time in two-tight end formations if the Jets stand pat at his position. The Stanford graduate pulled down 11 catches, including six for first downs, and 83 yards last season.

Running Back

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    The Jets are confident in the abilities of newly acquired tailback Mike Goodson.

    The 25-year-old slasher averaged 6.3 yards per carry on 35 attempts in Oakland last season. He also reeled in 16 receptions for 195 yards and a touchdown.

    He's the brand of player that aptly fits Marty Mornhinweg's offensive concept and could be on the verge of a breakout season. Goodson will complement lead-back Bilal Powell in 2013. It's a tandem that stands for big-play ability.

    Goodson is a speed-oriented back who can change the complexion of a football game in an instant. He's the type of weapon the Jets feel they've been lacking since the departure of Thomas Jones in 2010.

    Powell has steadily emerged to overtake former starting back Shonn Greene, who will likely adopt a third-down role behind Chris Johnson in Tennessee. Powell averaged 4.0 yards per carry on 110 attempts last season, rushing for 427 yards and four touchdowns.

    Joe McKnight and John Griffin fill out the depth chart behind Goodson and Powell. Lex Hilliard returns at fullback, where he held his own after taking over for John Conner, who was released in October.

Wide Receiver

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    The Jets currently boast a mediocre talent pool of wide receivers that lack big-play ability.

    Santonio Holmes is no longer a dynamic downfield threat capable of being a supreme difference-maker.

    He's in the process of rehabbing his surgically repaired right foot after suffering a season-ending, Lisfranc injury in 2012, but he should be ready for training camp.

    It's unknown how effective Holmes will be, although he's destined to return as the Jets' best receiver.

    Stephen Hill was gravely inconsistent in his rookie season and remains unproven. Jeremy Kerley is a reliable slot receiver, reeling in 56 receptions for 827 yards and two touchdowns last season, but he lacks breakaway speed.

    Clyde Gates and Jordan White are fill players with average ability at best, whereas Royce Pollard, Emmanuel Arceneaux and Titus Ryan are simply preseason hopefuls.

    The Jets aren't desperate for depth at wide receiver. Instead, they're desperate for talent.

    Wide receiver is a position of need for the Jets in the draft. Guys like Kenny Stills, Marquise Goodwin and Quinton Patton are potential targets.


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    The quarterback circus never seems to end in New York. Mark Sanchez leads a crew of lame-duck candidates into training camp, although the bumbling, turnover king isn't guaranteed the right to own the huddle in Week 1 of the 2013 season.

    Sanchez will face mild competition from has-been hopeful David Garrard and third-stringer Greg McElroy. Tim Tebow still owns a roster spot, but simply because the Jets are hard-pressed to find a trade suitor for football's most famous backup "quarterback."

    It's possible for the team to land a QB in the draft, but it doesn't appear as though Idzik is adamant about adding a so-called "franchise quarterback" in the midst of an offseason overhaul.

    The Jets will likely invite another veteran presence to camp in an effort to ignite the competition, but Sanchez is the probable favorite, barring an impressive performance from Garrard.

    Sanchez threw for 2,883 yards and 13 touchdowns in an ugly effort last season. He committed 26 turnovers to lead the NFL and recorded a 66.9 passer rating, good enough to rank second to last among qualified quarterbacks.