Considering the nightmare the news media, yours truly included, has built up regarding the New York Jets depth chart issues, it is refreshing to hear something positive in this area.
It appears that Rutgers product, defensive end-turned-linebacker Jamaal Westerman, is the real deal. So much so that Dave Hutchinson of the Star Ledger is reporting that Westerman making the team is a near certainty now.
”I’ll tell you, Westerman, the kid from Rutgers, I’ll be shocked if he doesn’t make a name for himself this year,” Ryan said last Sunday, the first weekend of camp. ”We’re really excited to have this guy.”
Westerman, 6-foot-3, 255 pounds, has been the rookie free-agent find of training camp thus far. He’s a virtual lock to make the team.
This is truly fantastic news since we’ve all been belly-aching about the lack of depth. Westerman may turn out to be a stellar pickup for this team because of his sheer versatility. Once a defensive end, Westerman has been asked to switch to outside linebacker, then to inside linebacker, and is now calling defensive plays on the field with the second team.
Westerman is a player who can play outside, inside, and knows the entire defense. Rex Ryan appreciates versatility, calling Westerman his “swing guy”.
Westerman has even been more impressive than second-year linebacker Vernon Gholston. Gholston was drafted sixth over all by the Jets in 2008 and was supposed to be the “terror” of passers the league over. So far the only thing Gholston has managed to terrorize is the bench on the sidelines.
These are the kinds of stories we need to see more of out of camp. Who starts at QB or who receiver No. 2 will be is, of course, a big concern, but it’s guys like Westerman who ultimately could make the biggest difference down the stretch when things get tough due to injuries or fatigue or any of the other unknowns yet to come.