Ranking Every New York Jets Positional Unit from Weakest to Strongest

Aidan MackieSenior Analyst IJuly 2, 2013

Ranking Every New York Jets Positional Unit from Weakest to Strongest

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    The New York Jets, like all NFL teams, have their strengths and their weaknesses. 

    While most point to the weaker aspects of Gang Green's roster, the franchise still boasts one of the most talented and up-and-coming defensive units in the league. 

    The Jets possess arguably the most unbalanced roster in the league, as some of the team's positional units are subpar, while others are nothing short of elite. 

    With that said, let's rank each positional unit for the Jets heading into 2013. 

8. Quarterbacks

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    The Jets' most talked-about position is also their weakest. 

    New York boasts four quarterbacks on its current roster (Mark Sanchez, Geno Smith, Greg McElroy and Matt Simms), but none seem to be capable of being a franchise signal-caller.  

    Sanchez, the team's starting quarterback the last four seasons, has struggled mightily, as he has compiled just a 71.7 career passer rating and led the Jets to two straight non-playoff seasons.

    McElroy and Simms, on the other hand, simply are nothing more than backup quarterbacks.

    Smith possesses the most upside of the quartet, but the rookie struggled with accuracy and troubles with the media throughout minicamp, and there are concerns about his ability to adjust to the NFL-level.   

    It's any guess who will start the season as New York's quarterback, but its almost certain that the positional unit will struggle.

7. Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

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    Drops, injuries and lack of big-time playmakers have haunted New York's receiving corps in recent years, and the unit enters this upcoming year weaker than ever. 

    Santonio Holmes, the team's No. 1 wideout and only true proven weapon, is a question mark to begin the regular season. No. 2 receiver Stephen Hill still hasn't overcome the drops and injuries that derailed his rookie season. 

    Clyde Gates and Ben Obomanu, while solid NFL players, cannot be relied upon as anything more than decent backups.

    As for tight end, the loss of Dustin Keller could sting badly.

    Jeff Cumberland showed promise last season, but he isn't ready to be a staple in the team's offense, and Kellen Winslow is a long way away from returning to his Pro Bowl form, as he recorded just one catch last season.  

    Unless unproven players such as Jordan White and Hayden Smith step up big time, the receiving corps will compete with quarterback as the Jets' weakest positional unit. 

6. Running Backs

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    Running back may be New York's most unknown positional unit heading into the 2013 season. 

    With Shonn Greene long gone, the backfield is made up of 25-year-old New Orleans Saints castoff Chris Ivory, the legally troubled Mike Goodson, the young Bilal Powell and the unproven Joe McKnight. 

    Chris Ivory is expected to be the leader of the unit, but with no more than 140 carries in a single season during his four-year career, he cannot be expected to carry a heavy workload. 

    However, Ivory is a ferocious and talented runner who could be in for a breakout season in his first year in the Big Apple. 

    If Goodson can clear up his legal problems, he could also play a major role in New York's offense. 

    Goodson is a force in the passing game, and he also boasts above-average speed. 

    Powell and McKnight's roles are unknown, as they could either play a major role in Gang Green's backfield, or be non-factors.

5. Linebackers

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    The linebacker unit heading into 2013 looks very different than it did heading into 2012.

    Bart Scott and Bryan Thomas, both starters last season, were both released this offseason, and former free-agent signing Calvin Pace returns to play a vastly reduced role.

    Second-year man DeMario Davis is expected to take over Scott's position opposite the always-reliable David Harris at inside linebacker.

    Last year's first-round pick, Quinton Coples, is also expected to transition from defensive end to outside linebacker this season.

    Though Coples is a force at rushing the passer, questions remain as to whether he can drop back in coverage successfully on a consistent basis.

    Veteran Antwan Barnes is expected to man the other outside linebacker. Although Barnes has produced double-digit sacks previously in his career, injuries and inconsistencies may derail him in 2013.  

4. Special Teams

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    Special teams could be New York's most polarizing unit. 

    Although Joe McKnight and Jeremy Kerley are two of the most electrifying returners in the NFL, the duo struggles with fumbles.

    Nick Folk, once one of the most inaccurate kickers in the league, has become a reliable kicker, and Robert Malone is an above-average punter.  

    However, blocked kicks haunted the unit in 2012. Don't be surprised if it haunts the unit again in 2013. 

3. Secondary

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    How can a unit who lost three of its four starters be the New York Jets' third-strongest positional unit?

    Antonio Cromartie and a lack of roster talent, that's how. 

    Cromartie has emerged as one of the game's top corners in the absence of Darrelle Revis, and he could contend for Defensive Player of the Year if things fall his way in 2013. 

    Rookie first-round selection Dee Milliner also boasts the talent to be an elite cornerback. 

    Safety is what limits the Jets secondary. 

    Dawan Landry will provide leadership and experience, but he lacks the speed and coverage capabilities to be a starting safety. 

    Antonio Allen and Josh Bush, on the other hand, possess the physical tools but lack the experience and on-field intelligence to make a major impact.  

    Despite the question marks, the secondary should still be a strong unit this season. 

2. Offensive Line

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    While the Jets offense as a whole is one of the league's worst, the offensive line is near-elite. 

    Nick Mangold and D'Brickashaw Ferguson have combined for seven Pro Bowl appearances, and each are among the elite at their respective positions. 

    Twenty-six-year-old Austin Howard should also be in for a solid season at right tackle.

    New York has question marks at guard, though.

    Rookie Brian Winters and veteran addition Willie Colon are expected to man the team's starting guard positions.

    Winters, being a rookie, is as unproven as they come, and Colon has struggled mightily with injuries throughout his career.

    If Winters and Colon can perform admirably, though, the offensive line could return to an elite level in 2013. 

1. Defensive Line

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    Defensive line is New York's strongest positional unit, and it's not close. 

    The franchise has spent three of its last four first-round picks on the defensive line, and it's managed to make the unit elite. 

    Muhammad Wilkerson has emerged into one of the league's top defensive ends, and he should be in for a huge season in his third year in the league.

    Rookie Sheldon Richardson has also been extremely impressive throughout offseason workouts, and many believe he could develop into a Pro Bowl-caliber player.

    Third-year man Kenrick Ellis and veteran Antonio Garay also make nose tackle one of the team's strongest positions.

    Expect big things out of Gang Green's defensive line this season.