The Five Position Battles To Watch for in the Jets Offseason
The offseason is pretty much over. Its time for the dust to settle, and see how the rosters will shape up. Camp is about to start. With any camp, there are position battles.
The Jets have few, but they are still interesting. The departures of Rhodes, Washington, and Faneca have left behind some heated position battles.
Some new rookies hope to displace some of their older counterparts. So without further ado, lets take a closer look on how the Jets position battles will shape up.
Free Safety: Brodney Pool v. Donovan Warren v. Eric Smith
This is such a tight race. With the departure of Kerry Rhodes, the Jets biggest need is at free safety.
Almost immediately following the trade, the Jets signed Brodney Pool, the free safety from Cleveland. In the wake of the draft, they signed the UDFA Donovan Warren. Adding another wrinkle to the battle is Eric Smith, the former backup to Rhodes.
Pool, is a talented safety who is great in coverage. He'd have the job hands down if not for his four concussion injury history. Warren, on the other hand, was a possible first round cornerback talent at one point.
However, he fell due to a poor 40 time. He is talented, no doubt, and can probably play safety. When Rhodes was benched, Eric Smith stepped up and played some solid run defense. He is another option for the free safety position.
Predicted starter: Brodney Pool
My Pick: : Eric Smith
Why? Donovan Warren was a cornerback in college, and may have trouble switching to the position. He'll take a couple of years for him to be ready. So when its between Smith and Pool, Smith'll win. Pool is a coverage safety with injury history. Smith is a hard-hitting, Rex Ryan run stopper who fits Ryan's defense perfectly. That's why he'll win.
Punter: T.J. Conley v. Steve Weatherford
One area that the Jets are weak is at punter. Last year's punter, Steve Weatherford, failed to blow anybody's mind. He was average at best, and even missed the playoff game with the Bengals. Sophomore T.J. Conley hopes to battle it out for the punter position. He didn't play much, but was decent when he did.
Predicted Winner: Steve Weatherford
My Winner: Steve Weatherford
This is a really tough call. Weatherford and Conley are equally matched in skill. Weatherford is a veteran, and for punters, age is almost a good thing.
The main reason Weatherford will get the win is that he is experienced in Westhoff's crazy special team schemes. In the end, experience wins. However, don't count out Conley. He may be the punter a couple of years from now.
Guard: Matt Slausen v. Vladmir Ducasse
This will be a much publicized and mis-predicted battle. Most people think that Ducasse will be the unquestioned winner. Their assumption is predictable; Ducasse was the Jets second round pick and Slausen was a seventh from last year.
Almost immediately following the draft, Faneca was cut. Naturally, everyone thought Ducasse would be the pick. However, this is not the case. Slausen has spent a year under Faneca's tutelage, while Ducasse is coming from a lower tier Division I college. They are expected to battle it out in a close match up.
Predicted Winner: Vladimir Ducasse
My Winner: Vladimir Ducasse
Ha. Got you there. Bet you didn't think I was going to pick Ducasse as my winner. Well, I said it was going to be close. I didn't say he was going to lose.
Although Slausen is relatively experienced, Ducasse is just too big to ignore. He is a monstrous, punishing guard. Just what Rex Ryan loves.
Return Man: Kyle Wilson v. Jerricho Cotchery v. Jim Leonhard
Oh boy. This is gonna be a blood bath. Okay, I'm over-exaggerating, but this will be a close battle.
With the departure of Leon Washington, the Jets' return man spot will be highly contested. Both Jerricho Cotchery and Jim Leonhard have spent some time as the return man. Cotchery was slightly better as a return man, but its really negligible. Adding another twist is Kyle Wilson, the first rounder from Boise State. He is expected to compete with the others for the starting job.
Predicted Starter: Jim Laonhard
My Pick: Push
Yes, I said it will be a push. Why? There won't be a winner. Odds are, the Jets will rotate each of them in and out.They're just to evenly matched.
Defensive End: Vernon Gholston v. Marques Douglas
Oh damn. I said the V word. I dared mention Vernon Gholston, supposedly the biggest bust ever in some very small circles. Well, deal with it. Vernon isn't done yet.
Recently it was announced that he was to be moved to the defensive line ( My full analysis: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/386324-vernon-gholston-getting-moving-down-under-to-the-defensive-line).
Even though he didn't live up to expectations at outside linebacker, he can possibly be good at defensive end. Marques Douglas is getting old. We may have an upset brewing on the defensive line.
Predicted Starter: Marques Douglas
My Pick: Vernon Gholston
I hear an angry mob a-brewing. I said the V word. Nevertheless, I do believe he'll be the starter. He's younger and more physically talented. If he bulks up, he'll be perfect. Douglas is almost done with his contract, and the Jets want to recoup their losses from Gholston.