Projected New York Jets' Final 53-Man Roster, Training Camp Edition
While the New York Jets enter training camp with many uncertainties, one thing can be assured: the roster will look drastically different than it did a season ago.
Gang Green has lost eleven starters from last season, including All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis, former Pro Bowlers Bart Scott and Brandon Moore and starting safeties LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell.
The team's roster will be as young and inexperienced as it has been in years, and with so many youngsters vying for a roster spot, it will be difficult to project the team's final depth chart.
Nevertheless, here is my prediction for New York's final 53-man roster entering training camp.
(3): Mark Sanchez, Geno Smith and Greg McElroy
Analysis: No matter who wins the starting job between Geno Smith and Mark Sanchez, both are locks to make the final roster.
Sanchez has struggled, but his huge contract prohibits the Jets from cutting him loose.
Smith, on the other hand, is the future of the franchise.
McElroy will likely beat out Matt Simms for the third quarterback position, as he is a solid locker room presence and performed decently when called upon.
(4): Chris Ivory, Mike Goodson, Bilal Powell and Joe McKnight
Analysis: Another easy one to call. The Jets traded for Ivory this offseason, and the 25-year-old is the likely feature back this season.
Goodson, despite his legal woes, is an explosive third-down option who is a terrific ball-catcher and decent blocker.
Powell performed admirably in the backup role last season, and he should get around 75-100 carries again this year.
McKnight, on the other hand, won't receive much playing time out of the backfield. His value comes on special teams, where he is one of the most dangerous return men in the NFL.
(1): Tommy Bohanon
Analysis: Veteran Lex Hilliard could make the roster if he can put together an impressive training camp, but he struggled in the starting role last season.
Bohanon, a seventh-round pick in this year's draft, has performed well throughout the offseason, and his combination of solid blocking and decent pass-catching ability should make him the team's only fullback.
(6): Santonio Holmes, Stephen Hill, Jeremy Kerley, Clyde Gates, Jordan White and Ben Obamanu
Analysis: Wide receiver is one of the Jets' weakest positions, so a variety of undrafted free agents or recent additions could sneak onto the final roster.
Santonio Holmes, though a question mark for Week 1, is expected to anchor the receiving corps again in 2012. Hopefully for New York, Holmes didn't lose his most prized assets, speed and elusiveness, because of the foot injury he suffered last season.
Stephen Hill is still a project, but he is expected to start opposite Holmes on the outside, and Jeremy Kerley, the team's leading receiver last year, will man the slot.
Clyde Gates has been a solid No. 4 option for the Jets the last few seasons, and he should fill that role again in 2013.
The fifth and sixth receiver spots are virtual toss ups, but I expect second-year man Jordan White and veteran Ben Obamanu to claim them.
White has a nice combination of size and speed, and his hands and route-running are above-average. Obamanu's track record should help him claim a roster spot.
However, if either White or Obamanu disappoint in training camp, don't be surprised to see undrafted rookies Zach Rogers or Marcus Davis step up and make the team.
(3): Jeff Cumberland, Kellen Winslow and Konrad Reuland
Analysis: With Dustin Keller out of the picture, the Jets tight end unit has a lot of question marks entering 2013.
Jeff Cumberland was decent in the absence of Keller last season, but he's still a largely unproven commodity. Whether or not he can be a solid starting tight end is still up for debate.
Recently-signed veteran Kellen Winslow isn't the Pro Bowl-caliber play he used to be, but he should still make an impact as the team's No. 2 receiving tight end.
The third tight end position is up for grabs, with Reuland, Hayden Smith, Chris Pantale and Mike Shanahan all competing for the spot.
I expect Reuland to come out on top because of his strength in run blocking.
Smith's potential will keep him around, though. I expect him to be a member of the practice squad.
Pantale or Shanahan could also make the practice squad if they showcase potential during training camp.
(3): D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Austin Howard and Oday Aboushi
Analysis: Tackle is a pretty straightforward position for the Jets.
Ferguson has been a Pro Bowl-caliber player since being drafted fourth overall in the 2006 draft, and he should have another terrific year in 2013.
Howard was a surprise starter last season after the release of Wayne Hunter. Although he had his ups and downs, Howard had a solid season. In his second year as a starter, expect him to improve.
Aboushi was drafted in the fifth round of this year's draft. He has nice upside, but he will spend most of his rookie year providing depth in case of an injury to Ferguson or Howard.
Interior Offensive Linemen
(6): Nick Mangold, Caleb Schlauderaff, Stephen Peterman, Willie Colon, Brian Winters and Vladimir Ducasse
Analysis: The interior of the offensive line has a lot more questions than the exterior. While four-time Pro Bowl selection Mangold is the obvious starter at center, the two guard spots are up for grabs.
At 33 years old, Willie Colon should be the Week 1 starter at left guard, but he has suffered a boatload of injuries throughout his career, so a solid backup is a necessity.
Schlauderaff should be just that. Schlauderaff's ability to play both center and guard make him a virtual lock to the make the final roster.
Peterman and rookie Winters should compete for the starting job at right guard. It'll be a close battle with either player capable of manning the role.
Ducasse has been a disappointment since being drafted in the second round a few years back, but he showed improvement last year, and he should be a versatile backup.
(2): Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson
Analysis: Defensive end is another pretty straightforward position for New York.
The Jets only have four defensive ends on their current 90-man roster (Wilkerson, Richardson, Tevita Finau and Jake McDonough).
Heading into his third season, Wilkerson is already one of the NFL's finest defensive ends. Richardson, a first-round pick this offseason, also boasts exceptional athleticism and upside.
The two will tart on opposite ends of the defensive line, and I project them to be the only primary defensive ends on the final 53-man roster.
If injuries occur to either player, Antonio Garay, Quinton Coples or even Antwan Barnes could step in and replace them accordingly.
(3) Antonio Garay, Kenrick Ellis and Damon Harrison
Analysis: Like many other positions across the field, defensive tackle will look completely different this season than in years past.
Former Charger Antonio Garay was brought in to replace the departed Sione Pouha, but he will have to outplay the young and athletic Kenrick Ellis in order to claim the starting job.
New York was extremely poor against the run last season, but with Ellis at full health and the addition of Garay, the run defense should improve substantially.
Second-year man Damon Harrison should also be a contributor. The mammoth Harrison is a run stuffer at its purest form, as he possesses colossal size and strength but limited athleticism.
(5): Quinton Coples, Antwan Barnes, Garrett McIntyre, Calvin Pace and Ricky Sapp
Analysis: The Jets received little to no production from their outside linebackers last season, and it led to a lack of pressure on the opposing quarterback.
To increase the position's production, the team moved 2012 first round pick Quinton Coples to outside linebacker. Coples recorded 5.5 sacks in limited playing time last year. With extended playing time, the North Carolina product could hit double digit sacks.
Veteran Antwan Barnes should man the other starting job at outside linebacker. Barnes recorded 11 sacks just two years ago, but he has yet to repeat the same production again, largely due to injuries and inconsistency.
If Barnes and Coples can perform at their ability levels, the Jets could have a surprisingly good pass rush from the outside.
Calvin Pace and Garrett McIntyre are back to provide depth, and both have the talent to man starting roles if injuries strike.
Ricky Sapp hasn't received much playing time, but the youngster possesses decent upside.
(4): David Harris, Demario Davis, Josh Mauga and Nick Bellore
Analysis: With Bart Scott finally out of the picture, second-year man Demario Davis will be given a chance to start opposite David Harris at inside linebacker.
Davis is a maximum effort player with terrific speed and athleticism, and Harris, despite coming off a down year, is one of the game's elite inside linebackers.
Josh Mauga is coming off a season-ending torn pectoral, but he should once again prove to be a capable backup.
Bellore should also sneak onto the roster to provide depth, as he is a solid tackler with good athleicism.
(6): Antonio Cromartie, Dee Milliner, Ellis Lankster, Isaiah Trufant, Kyle Wilson and Mike Edwards
Analysis: Cornerback is arguably the Jets deepest and most talented positional unit.
Antonio Cromartie and Dee Milliner are the team's starters. Cromartie was a Pro Bowl selection last year, and he is emerged as one of the game's top corners. Milliner was a first-round pick this offseason, and his upside is astronomical.
Lankster and Trufant are solid are solid nickel corners, and Kyle Wilson, despite never living up to his first round billing, is a capable backup.
I project Mike Edwards sneaking onto the roster because of his blazing speed and good ball skills.
If Edwards disappoints in training camp, though, veteran Aaron Berry could claim a spot.
(4): Dawan Landry, Josh Bush, Antonio Allen and Jaiquawn Jarrett
Analysis: New York's top three safeties from last season, LaRon Landry, Yeremiah Bell and Eric Smith, have all departed this offseason, leaving the Jets extremely thin at the position.
The team brought in LaRon Landry's brother, Dawan, to start at strong safety. Dawan isn't the most gifted athlete, but he provides experience and good coverage skills to a shaky unit.
Second-year men Josh Bush and Antonio Allen will compete for the starting job at free safety this offseason. Both Bush and Allen are solid athletes who are mostly unproven in pass coverage.
Jaiquawn Jarrett will provide depth, but he will have to stave off undrafted rookie Rontez Miles in training camp.
(3): Nick Folk, Robert Malone and Tanner Purdum
Analysis: Brett Maher may start training camp competing with Folk for the kicking job, but I expect Folk to emerge as the clear winner.
Folk was solid last year, as most of his missed kicks were courtesy of blocks, not inaccuracy.
Malone was terrific as the team's punter last year, and he should play an important role again with the offense expected to struggle.
Purdum is a great long snapper, and he's a lock to make the final roster.