Jets Positional Analysis: Defensive Line

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First a few updates:

1. Sean Payton filled in for Peter King in his Monday Morning Quarterback article and predicted the Jets would be a playoff team this season and also spoke highly of Mark Sanchez. Big news? Not really, but it is nice to hear a respected quarterback coach in the NFL have a favorable view of Sanchez.

2. No news on the Thomas Jones/Leon Washington front and enough of this nonsense about Danny Woodhead and Shonn Greene being able to step in for them this year…get your two pro-bowl running backs into camp on time, you have a rookie quarterback who you just invested 60 million dollars in…help the guy out.

3. I recently found out where my season tickets in the new stadium were located…10 rows higher than my previous ones and in the endzone instead of the 30 yard line…thank you New York Jets.

4. Just watched Hideki Matsui hit a walk off home run, and I am now hoping Texas can hold on against Boston to put my Yanks in first place by the time I wake up tomorrow.

Jets Positional Analysis: Defensive Line

Over the next 6 weeks, I am going to go through all of the Jets positions and assess each player, continuing today with the defensive line:

1. Kris Jenkins #77, Starting Defensive Tackle, Last Season: 50 Tackles, 3.5 Sacks, 4 Tackles For Loss, 1 Forced Fumble, Selected to Pro-Bowl

History: The Jets acquired the big fella in a trade before last season and he responded positively to a new environment. Jenkins was a dominant player on the Jets defense during the first 11 games last year before injuries slowed him down. Rex Ryan must find a way to properly rest him throughout the season so he can be 100 percent during the stretch run in December.

Chance of Making Roster: 100%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Jenkins plays at the level he did during the first 11 games last year for an entire season and returns to the pro-bowl.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: Injuries take a toll on him and he misses extended time, severely hurting the Jets run defense.

Prediction: I think after watching tape from last season, Rex Ryan will find a way to maximize the big fella’s extraordinary talent on the Jets defense by moving him around the defensive line and properly resting him. Jenkins will have a slightly better season than he did in 2008, and return to the pro-bowl.

2. Shaun Ellis #92, Starting Defensive End, Last Season: 60 Tackles, 8 Sacks, 1 Tackle For Loss, 2 Forced Fumbles, 1 Large Snowball Tossed

History: Ellis is the longest tenured Jets player, spending all of his 10 seasons in green and white. Very quietly, he had a very good season in 2008. 8 sacks for a 3-4 defensive end is extremely impressive. Ellis remains a solid two way end and hasn’t shown signs of slowing down with age.

Chance of Making Roster: 100%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: He duplicates his performance from last season, except he isn’t arrested for marijuana and doesn’t throw a huge snowball in the stands after the Jets lose a game.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: Ellis begins to break down with age, leaving the Jets ridiculously thin at defensive end.

Prediction: I think Ellis will be a good player in Rex Ryan’s system. I don’t expect him to match the 8 sacks from last season but I think 5-6 is a reasonable number.

3. Marques Douglas #93, Starting Defensive End, Last Season: 36 Tackles, 5 Tackles For Loss

History: The Jets signed Douglas as a depth player who was familiar with Rex Ryan’s system. However, after they traded Kenyon Coleman in the Mark Sanchez deal, Douglas became the presumed starter. He has been a backup mostly throughout his career but now will have an expanded amount of reps.

Chance of Making Roster: 100%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: He keeps his tackles for loss numbers high and holds his own as a starter. There is no drop off from Kenyon Coleman to Douglas and he helps teach the D-Line Ryan’s scheme.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: He can’t handle being a full time player and the Jets struggle on the defensive line all season because of it.

Prediction: Douglas won’t be a downgrade from Kenyon Coleman but won’t be a noticeable upgrade either. The Jets need to address defensive end next season with Ellis aging and Douglas better suited to be a role player than a starter.

4. Mike DeVito #70, Backup Defensive End, Last Season: 24 Tackles, 0.5 Sacks, 2 Tackles For Loss

History: A UDFA who has stuck on the Jets roster the past three years and should see a major bump in playing time this season as the primary backup defensive end to both Ellis and Douglas. He has a good motor and the defensive coaching staff is high on his potential.

Chance of Making Roster: 95%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: DeVito blossoms in Ryan’s system and becomes a capable NFL starter at defensive end.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: He bombs out in camp and can’t stay on the active roster.

Prediction: I think DeVito will prove to be a solid player off the bench and may show enough to become an eventual starter.

5. Sione Pouha #91, Backup Defensive Tackle, Last Season: 23 Tackles, 0.5 Sacks, 1 Tackle For Loss

History: The Jets drafted him in 2005 but he has struggled with injuries and been nothing but an average backup. He had a pretty good year in 2007 but seemed to regress last season.

Chance of Making Roster: 90%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: He plays the way he did during 2007 and is part of a group that does a good job spelling Kris Jenkins.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: He struggles in camp and during the season, forcing Jenkins to play more reps than he should, leading to declining production from him as the season goes on.

Prediction: Pouha wasn’t very good last year so it is hard to predict a solid season for him in 2009 but hopefully he can be a decent role player.

6. Howard Green #95, Backup Defensive Tackle, Last Season: 21 Tackles, 1 Sack, 1 Tackle For Loss, 1 Forced Fumble

History: The Jets signed him this off-season to improve the depth behind Kris Jenkins and push Sione Pouha for reps. Green had a decent season in Seattle last year and before that played in New Orleans.

Chance of Making Roster: 90%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Green develops into a very good backup for Kris Jenkins.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: Green proves to be nothing more than a journeyman and is cut.

Prediction: I think Pouha and him will split reps behind Jenkins and be adequate.

The Rest of the Guys:

7. Ropati Pitoitua #79, Defensive End – Huge player (6’8, 310) who was on the practice squad last season, could battle for a backup defensive end spot.

8. Zach Potter #98, Defensive End – A UDFA from Nebraska.

9. Matt Kroul #63, Defensive Tackle/End – A UDFA from Iowa.

10. Ty Steinkuhler #61, Defensive End/Tackle – Another UDFA from Nebraska.

Overall Position Analysis: Jenkins is a dominant force in the middle, Ellis is a quality NFL starter, but Douglas/DeVito have to step up at the other DE spot this year. There is also pressure on Pouha and Green to give Jenkins a rest and provide good reps off the bench.

Jets Highlight of the Day: In honor of the defensive line, here is Shaun Ellis having a snowball fight with the Seattle fans last season.

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