Some of the more encouraging reads this off-season related to the New York Jets have been about the work second year lineman Vladimir Ducasse has been putting in to improve.
The Jets took a risk in last year’s draft by selecting Ducasse in the second round. Despite having good size and potential, he was from a small school (UMass) and the Jets planned to move him from his college position of left tackle to left guard. He struggled heavily picking up the playbook in the summer and was easily beaten out by Matt Slauson for the starting job. Ducasse also fell behind Robert Turner and Wayne Hunter as the top backups on the offensive line and never saw meaningful reps last season.
Now for the second straight year, the Jets have released a veteran offensive lineman in hope that Ducasse can fill the void. Last year it was Slauson who beat him out to take over for Alan Faneca, this year the Jets will hope that after moving Ducasse out to right tackle he can take over for Damien Woody. Veteran Wayne Hunter will likely be re-signed to compete with Ducasse and as insurance, but you know the coaching staff will be pulling for the second round pick to seize the position.
Despite the lockout, it sounds like Ducasse is motivated to live up to his expectations and has put together a grueling workout regimen these past few months. Ultimately, he will have to master the Jets playbook and show he can hold his own consistently in a game situation. The transition back to tackle should help, considering how much time he spent there in college.
If Ducasse can’t beat out Hunter this summer to be the starting tackle, it likely indicates the Jets made a mistake by selecting him so high and may have to continue on their search for a long term replacement at right tackle.