With the Jets being on bye this week after a 5-4 start to the season, it’s time to look ahead to the second half of the season and start thinking about what we can expect going forward. As much fun as it is to point out how the Jets have already exceeded the expectations of all the “experts” out there, what’s even more fun is to look at some of the players on this roster and envision where this group is headed. So that’s exactly what I’m doing with this week’s Stock Watch: I’m rating the roster from top to bottom based on what I expect from them the rest of the season.
(I’ve listed 54 players because no roster move has been made yet for Winslow’s return. Also, it’s worth repeating that the list is based on the future 7 games, not necessarily what has already happened in 2013.)
The “Pray We Never Them See on the Field” Group
54. Ricky Sapp – Not only the most useless player on this Jets team, but I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a more useless player in the entire NFL. The next time he even makes a play on special teams will be the first.
53. William Campbell – Why isn’t he on the practice squad?
52. Ben Ijalana – Who?
51. Oday Aboushi – At least he has some hope down the road.
50. Caleb Schlauderaff – A Mike Tannenbaum favorite. That’s not a compliment.
49. Matt Simms – I don’t hate Simms, but it’s unlikely he sees any meaningful time this year. And if he does, it means things have gone terrible wrong.
48. Alex Green – Strictly an insurance policy in case Ivory or Powell get injured, so unless that happens, we won’t be seeing much of Green. Let’s hope it remains that way.
The “Only in Small Doses” Group
47. Troy Davis – I like Davis and think he has some potential, but he won’t be given much playing time on defense this season.
46. Rontez Miles – The newest Jet has a chance to be a major special teams contributor, and don’t be surprised to see Rex Ryan work him into some defensive packages as well.
45. Konrad Reuland – A solid blocker and a… well, that’s it. He’s just a decent blocker. Oh, and he’s friends with Mark Sanchez, so there’s that. He’s a candidate to be released with Winslow’s return next week.
44. Vlad Ducasse – I’ve noticed we’ve heard “62 is eligible” more often recently. In that role as an extra run blocker, Vlad is actually pretty decent, but his days as a starting guard are hopefully done forever.
43. Isaiah Trufant – He is actually decent as a dime corner against quicker slot receivers and solid on special teams, but he’s best kept in small doses.
The “Hey, These Guys Can Contribute a Little Bit!” Group
42. Zach Sudfeld – With Winslow and Cumberland’s history of injuries, don’t be surprised if Sudfeld sticks and works his way into more and more offensive packages. With his size, he can be an effective weapon for Geno.
41. Ryan Quigley – There really isn’t much positive to say about Quigley, so I’m not even going to try. He’s a pretty bad punter and an upgrade should be brought in.
40. Tanner Purdum – This seems like a good spot for him, no?
39. David Garrard – I never want to see him step onto the field, but as a mentor for Geno he has tremendous value.
38. Josh Bush – Bush has a limited roll on defense, but he is a fixture on special teams and he does what is asked of him.
37. Tommy Bohanon – I was pretty down on Bohanon early in the season, but I’ve really come around on him. His blocking has improved dramatically and he is a useful component in Marty’s offense.
36. Nick Bellore – He’s not a contributor on defense, but he’s a terrific special teamer. He’s the kind of guy winning teams need to fill out their roster.
35. Ellis Lankster – Now that Lankster no longer gets on the field as a cornerback, I don’t have to hate him so much anymore. As terrible as he is as a corner (and he’s the worst), he’s the exact opposite of that on special teams.
The “Horrible Disappointment” Group
34. Stephen Hill – Yep, Hill gets his own special category. For a team that has had a ton of injuries at the wide receiver position, you’d think last year’s 2nd round pick would be able to step up and help fill the gap. Well, if you thought that, you’d be wrong. Geno has no confidence in him. Marty has no confidence in him. I don’t think even Stephen Hill has confidence in Stephen Hill at this point. Hill needs to show something down the stretch of this season, or he’s going to be buried.
The “Solid Role Players” Group
33. Greg Salas – I’ve long been a Salas fan and apparently Marty Mornhinweg is as well because the Jets brought in the former Eagle this year while he was injured just to stash him for later in the season. I think he’s going to be a pretty big contributor, especially with Kerley out.
32. Jaiquawn Jarrett – He’s been outplayed by Antonio Allen, but Rex has been using more 3 safety looks on defense lately and Jarrett has played pretty well.
31. Brian Winters – The rookie guard has had his ups and downs, but that’s to be expected for a guy who played a different position in college. I’m willing to live with his mistakes.
30. Leger Douzable – In a fairly limited role backing up the Jets studs on the defensive line, Douzable has been very impressive, especially rushing the passer. A perfect backup.
29. Garrett McIntyre – I used to refer to McIntyre as “Useless Garrett”, but that is no longer the case. He is solid against the run and manages to surprise you with his ability to get after the QB occasionally. Very solid backup.
28. Kenrick Ellis – He’s been awesome in a limited role and he’s part of the reason the Jets have been so dominant in short yardage situations this year. I expect him to continue his stout run defense the rest of the year, and if Snacks were to ever go down with an injury, Ellis would step right in.
27. Darrin Walls – I love Walls, but with Dee Milliner healthy and finally showing flashes of being the player we expected, Walls won’t see much time on defense. But if he has to, I think he will continue to do an excellent job.
The “Real Contributors” Group
26. Jeff Cumberland – Cumberland has had his moments this year and can be a factor in the passing game, but it just always seems like something is missing with him. I keep waiting for him to put it all together.
25. Kellen Winslow Jr. – Before he got suspended for his uhhh.. “allergy medicine”, Winslow was one of Geno’s favorite targets. He can help bolster this passing game down the stretch.
24. Jeremy Kerley – Kerley would be higher on this list if not for a gruesome arm injury that he suffered in last week’s game. He should be out a few weeks, but when he returns, he will once again be the team’s most dependable WR.
23. David Nelson – It seems as though Nelson was Geno’s favorite target from the day he first stepped on the field as a Jet. He has good size and has been very dependable. No reason to think he won’t continue to contribute.
22. Josh Cribbs – Cribbs has very quietly provided a major boost to this team. The return game has dramatically improved since he took over for Clyde Gates (Ha! Remember him?!) and he’s contributed on offense as well. A great midseason pickup by Idzik.
21. Kyle Wilson – I’ve been hard on the finger wagger in the past, but he’s had a pretty solid season in the slot this year. He’ll never live up to his first round draft status, but the Jets can do worse.
20. Dee Milliner – Milliner has been awful this year, no question about it. But he finally showed signs of life against the Saints and Drew Brees, and Rex trusted him enough to cover Jimmy Graham for much of the game. I expect a rebound second half from Milliner.
19. Willie Colon – Colon has been very solid at RG for the Jets this year, but his impact off the field and in the locker room has been enormous. He’s already become a team leader. As the weather turns and the run game becomes more important, a mauler like Colon becomes huge to have.
18. Calvin Pace – I couldn’t stand Calvin Pace last year, and I don’t know how he was able to play with that giant fork sticking out of his back, but this year he has rebounded. After being cut and having no teams try to sign him, Pace re-dedicated himself and has become a very, very solid player for this defense.
17. Bilal Powell – The jack of all trades, master of none running back held down the fort while Chris Ivory was injured, but now he’s back in the role he was meant to play: Versatile backup.
16. Antonio Allen – The 7th-round steal in last year’s draft has stepped up and grabbed the starting safety spot for Rex’s defense. He’s been covering opposing tight ends every week lately, and while he still makes mistakes from time to time, he’s a terrific fit for this Jets defense and getting better every week.
The “These Guys are Important” Group
15. Geno Smith – If this list was ranking the importance of players, then Geno would be #1. As of now, though, he is what he is: A rookie QB with a lack of talent surrounding him who will go through ups and downs. Geno has already shown enough flashes this season to win me over and I think he will be the QB here for the foreseeable future.
14. Dawan Landry – Landry got off to a shaky start this year, but he’s been playing really well the past few weeks. His impact on young players like Allen has also been a major help for the defense.
13. Antonio Cromartie – Cro has had a pretty terrible season so far, and he would be the first to admit it. Like Milliner though, he bounced back and played really well last week. Hopefully during the bye week he is able to get his body back to 100% and return to being the stud corner we saw last year.
12. Santonio Holmes – Holmes is expected to play next week after the bye, and with all the injuries at receiver, he will immediately become the team’s #1 threat. Expect Geno to target Holmes a ton in the season’s second half.
11. Chris Ivory – He has finally been given the torch and he is running with it. The only thing that can seemingly stop Ivory at this point is Marty Mornhinweg, who too often gets away from the power run game when it is working so well. Ivory should be a 20 touch player ever week from here on out and be the focal point of the offense.
10. Demario Davis – Pay attention to Demario, Jets fans. We are watching a stud in the making and he’s going to have a monster second half of the season. Enjoy it.
9. Austin Howard – Howard’s rise from just being the guy who got to start simply because he wasn’t Wayne Hunter to what he is now has been amazing. He’s an excellent run blocker and he’s improved a great deal as a pass protecter. He will continue his great play through the season and the Jets should wrap him up with a nice new contract.
8. D’Brickahaw Ferguson – I was thisclose to putting Howard above Brick, but couldn’t bring myself to do it. He’s had a down season by his standards, but he’s still a top talent and I think he will have a much better second half.
7. Nick Mangold – Like Brick, Mangold is having a big of a down season by his standards, but he’s still the key to everything the Jets do up front. The Jets usually hit their stride running the ball in November, and that will again be the case this year, led by Mangold.
6. David Harris – What a remarkable turnaround from last season, when Harris was downright bad. With a revamped line in front of him playing great, Harris has been able to roam free and is making a ton of plays. No reason to think that will change. The Hitman is back.
The “Best Kicker in the League” Group
5. Nick Folk – Oh look, Folk gets his own category! And deservedly so. It’s nearly impossible for Folk to match his first half of the season in which he is 23-23 with 3 game winners, but I wouldn’t bet against him. He’s locked in right now and he’s having the best season of any kicker in the league.
The “Big Bad Wolves” Group
4. Quinton Coples – Like I said, this list is about what I expect from the rest of the season, not what has already happened. Coples has had a terrible season so far as he has been slow to recover from his broken foot in the preseason, but if you watched that Saints game, you saw a player getting ready to explode. Now coming off a bye week in which he got to rest, I think Coples is going to have a huge last 7 games for this defense and when you combine him with the top 3 guys on this list, it is going to be basically unfair for offensive lines.
3. Sheldon Richardson – He’s been awesome this year. For a rookie to step in and not only start from day 1, but to play as many different roles as Sheldon has, is incredible. Rex uses him all over the defensive line and he’s excelled pretty much everywhere. There’s some concern that he might hit “the rookie wall” and slow down, but I haven’t seen that yet. It helps that he has the studs around him that he does, but he’s going to be great down the stretch.
2. Damon Harrison – Just as everyone predicted, the undrafted Harrison has emerged as the best run stuffer in the NFL and has been the key to the Jets dominance up front. Ok, so that isn’t quite what anybody expected, but that’s exactly what has happened. Snacks is a force and now that teams are starting to account for him with double-teams more often, it opens things up for everyone else.
1. Mo Wilkerson – Yep, in what should come as a surprise to nobody, Big Mo gets the top spot. Not only is Wilkerson the Jets best player and the key to everything they do on defense, he’s become quite possibly the best defensive player in the entire league not named JJ Watt, and the gap between the two is not nearly as big as it once was. Wilkerson is an absolute force in every way for Rex Ryan’s defense, and the scary thing is that he’s getting better every week. With 8 sacks in 9 games, he’s going to become the Jets first double-digit sacker since John Abraham despite being double-teamed on nearly every play. The Jets are in good hands with Mo Wilkerson leading the way.