NY Jets Stock Watch: Which Players Are Rising & Falling Through 2 Weeks of Camp
Two weeks of training camp are in the books and the New York Jets steadily move toward definitive answers to multiple question marks across the depth chart.
The most notable competition in Jets camp is gaining stream. Wanna-be starting quarterback Geno Smith has exploded on scene to take an edge over the incumbent, Mark Sanchez.
The favorable situation that now faces Smith is subject to a lack of improvement on Sanchez's part and Smith's surprising knack to run new offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg's offense.
On the defensive front, Antonio Allen has reclaimed the front seat in the starting safety battle, opposite veteran Dawan Landry. Muhammad Wilkerson is quietly mounting an impressive training camp and Quinton Coples is rising to a formidable state as a blitz-happy, outside linebacker.
The following slideshow assesses which players are rising and falling through two weeks of Jets training camp:
Rising: Muhammad Wilkerson
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Muhammad Wilkerson is one of the most underrated players in the NFL. The 6'4", 315-pound beast is ready for a breakout season in 2013.
Wilkerson demonstrated the ability to be a fierce pass-rusher last season while wreaking havoc on offensive lines. He recorded five sacks, four deflected passes, three forced fumbles and also recovered a fumble for a touchdown.
He hasn't received much notoriety in camp, but his steady progression should be noted.
Wilkerson shredded the offensive line during the team's goal-drill last Friday, according to Rich Cimini of ESPN New York. He continues to be explosive from the point of attack and is emerging as a top-tier talent.
The Jets need Wilkerson to be a formidable force on defense to enable head coach Rex Ryan's blitz-heavy scheme.
The Jets blitzed five or more pass rushers more than any other team in the NFL in 2009 en route to an AFC title game appearance. The frequency by which the team has blitzed five or more has steadily decreased in each subsequent season.
Ryan's blitz scheme should be reignited this season, especially considering the personnel now in place. Expect Wilkerson to lead the way.
Falling: Josh Bush
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Former sixth-round pick Josh Bush was thought to stand a chance to earn a starting safety spot, but has since taken a backseat to Antonio Allen and Jaiquawn Jarrett.
Bush has been taking reps with the second-team defense throughout camp. He's well-conditioned and ready to battle, but doesn't seem destined for an extreme increase in playing time in 2013.
He played in all 16 games in 2012, recorded two assists on tackles and one solo tackle.
It's not like Bush has been a major disappointment though. He's actually exceeded expectations to this point. At 5'11'' and 208 pounds, Bush is slightly undersized for his position in terms of height.
Bush probably won't see an influx of reps with the defensive starters in camp and throughout the preseason. He's officially slotted behind Landry on the depth chart.
The Jets need to quickly develop Allen's skill set if he's in fact going to effectively man a starting safety role. The former seventh-round pick started just one game in 2012, recording two tackles and one sack.
Rising: Quinton Coples
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Newfound outside linebacker Quinton Coples is developing into a leader on defense. The second-year player has spit in the face of doubters that questioned his work ethic.
Coples rallied for 22 tackles, 5.5 sacks and two deflected passes in two starts during his rookie season. The Jets coaching brass expects big things from Coples this season, and he hasn't disappointed expectations to this point in camp.
The biggest concern surrounding Coples is his ability to cover the pass. He seldom dropped back into coverage as a defensive end in the 3-4 base defense in 2012.
The 284-pound pass-rusher has a lot to learn in a limited amount of time if he's going to maximize his abilities on defense this season and grow into an elite linebacker.
Coples is confident the Jets defensive front can develop into a dominant force, stating, "We want to be the best and make our own name" (via ESPN New York).
His vocal outburst is symbolic of his style of play on the football field.
The Jets D-front is talented, but also relatively inexperienced.
The remainder of camp and preseason gameplay will shed some light on how dominant this brigade of young studs can actually be in 2013.
Falling: Chris Ivory
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It was assumed before camp commenced that newly acquired running back Chris Ivory would be the feature back for the Jets in 2013.
After two weeks of camp, Ivory's status as the team's lead back is in serious doubt. Ivory has the skill set necessary to succeed as an every-down back in the NFL, but only if he can stay on the field.
The former backup RB continues to fight nagging hamstring pain that has kept him off the field throughout training camp.
At 6'0'' and 222 pounds, the Jets coaching brass initially considered Ivory to be the durable brand of back the team needed to solidify the backfield.
Ivory stated on Day 1 of camp that he was being held out strictly for issues relative to "precaution," according to Newsday.
That sentiment has been exacerbated in recent days. The could-be playmaker has missed all team practice activities.
Backup RB Bilal Powell was thought to be on the bubble before camp, but he continues to take first team reps as the team's first preseason game steadily approaches.
Ivory was brought in to be a game-changing type of back for the Jets, who lacked explosiveness in the backfield last season. He was essentially a sure thing for a team that remains without a proven starting QB.
The fourth-year player suffered a foot injury in his rookie season that landed him on the injured reserve list, disabling him from playing in the 2010 playoffs. He also missed the first six games of the 2011 season on the PUP list.
Rising: Clyde Gates
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Clyde Gates has made a ton of noise thus far in Jets training camp.
Gates wasn't considered a potential playmaker when camp commenced, but he's flashed extremely impressive athletic ability and receiving prowess in the first two weeks of practice.
2013 will mark Gates' third season as a pro.
He essentially remains unproven, but boasts enormous upside. Gates reeled in just 16 passes for 224 yards last season.
Gates has flashed an undying determination to take his game to the next level, nevertheless. It's a mindset shared by most teammates, like Coples.
"You can’t come out one day, have a good day, then the next day just be mediocre," Gates told Kristian Dyer of Metro.
Gates is a former Division II standout that forced his way into the NFL.
Now, he's showcasing dynamic playmaking ability in Jets offensive drills in training camp. He's demonstrated potential game-changing speed-burst ability while pulling down tough catches to impress team coaches.
Gates' sudden development is massive for a team that faces uncertainty at wide receiver. Former No. 1 receiver Santonio Holmes continues to recover from a Grade 4 Lisfranc injury and second-year wideout Stephen Hill remains mostly inconsistent.
Gates could prove to be a reliable receiving threat for the Jets in 2013 if he continues to develop at a ridiculous rate.
Falling: Mike Goodson
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Third-down back Mike Goodson has failed to report to training camp because of pending legal issues that have plagued that cut-back slasher since he inked a three-year contract with the Jets in the offseason.
Goodson was thought to be a pivotal component of the Jets new-look offense in 2013, but hasn't seen the field for team activities in training camp.
It's unknown if Goodson will be active in the preseason. Furthermore, his role remains undefined.
Goodson's absence combined with Ivory's hamstring "precaution" has created a chance for Bilal Powell to reemerge as a player that could earn a bulk of the carries early in the season.
In addition, Joe McKnight hasn't been dismissed as a potential third-down option.
Running back was supposed to be a stabilized position on the Jets offense after an offseason overhaul that featured Goodson inking a free agent deal and Ivory being acquired via trade.
The tides have brutally turned for the Jets, though. The Jets signed former Buccaneers RB Mossis Madu on Sunday night to provide depth to the position.
In addition, afterthought RB John Griffin has earned some reps with the first team offense in camp, fueling speculation that the Jets could be headed towards a running back-by-committee approach in the early-going.
Rising: Geno Smith
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Jets rookie QB Geno Smith endured his first difficult practice on Monday, suffering two interceptions in a 7-on-7 goal-line drill. He reportedly struggled with his accuracy, according to Rich Cimini of ESPN New York, while forcing passes into coverage.
Smith, unlike Sanchez, is expected to commit rookie-like mistakes, especially in practice drills. It should be noted that Smith hasn't tossed an interception in offensive team drills, which can't be said for Sanchez.
Smith ultimately features big upside for a team that has encountered pathetic gameplay at the quarterback position over the course of the past two seasons.
He boasts enormous arm strength and showcases the ability to hit receivers in stride. His struggles have been limited to this point in camp, although a bigger tests awaits when the Jets open-up the preseason on Friday in Detroit.
At the moment, Smith's edge holds tight, although the team's QB competition is far from being decided.
Friday's preseason opener will be critical for both quarterbacks, although it represents an opportunity for Smith to put a stranglehold on his slight edge over Sanchez.
Falling: Mark Sanchez
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Floundering second-rate QB Mark Sanchez guaranteed that he'd win the aforementioned quarterback competition with Geno Smith before training camp.
Now, it's highly possible that Sanchez will be an $8.25 million backup QB in 2013. The former fifth overall pick struggled in the early-going in offensive drills, but was efficient on Monday, completing six-of-nine passes.
Sanchez still hasn't displayed an ounce of improvement since his 26-turnover showing in 2012, though. His timing is terrible and he's easily flustered when forced to make a throwing decision.
He continues to throw behind open receivers downfield and often tips his passes to defensive backs, leading to ugly turnovers.
The Jets simply don't stand a chance to compete at a high level with Sanchez as the team's main signal-caller. His ineptitude from a decision-making standpoint is staggering at this juncture of his career.
Ron Jaworski of ESPN echoed a similar sentiment when rating the NFL's starting QBs before camps, claiming Sanchez "continues to make too many throws that a quarterback with his experience level should not make."
Training camp is a small sample size, but Sanchez looks to be on his way out of a starting job in the NFL.