We’re back with another edition of TOJ’s #PickSix. This week, we are going to look at six position battles that will go a long way towards determining the New York Jets depth chart.
1. Geno Smith v Ryan Fitzpatrick
While this isn’t a competition in the traditional sense of the word, this is still something worth watching as OTAs and training camp progress for the New York Jets. Geno is the incumbent and will begin training camp as the first team quarterback. He is playing in his 3rd offensive system in 4 seasons. However, he will have the benefit of starting with the first team while Fitzpatrick heals from a broken leg. Should Smith falter, the Jets have a guy that was productive last season and who knows the system very well. Fitzpatrick is facing an uphill climb to unseat Smith but will be ready to do so if Smith shows he’s not ready.
Prediction: Geno Smith
2. Chris Ivory v Steven Ridley v Zac Stacy
Bilal Powell, in my opinion, is entrenched as the 3rd down back and won’t get the chance to compete for the starting running back’s position. This will come down to the incumbent Chris Ivory and newcomers Zac Stacy and Steven Ridley. Ivory is the best pure runner out of the group, but he has durability issues. Ridley has the highest ceiling of the three, but also has durability issues. Stacy might be the hungriest out of the three, but he … you get the point. The Jets offensive line is a mess. With only one above average starter up front (Nick Mangold), it is important for the Jets to make sure they have the best possible player starting at running back.
Prediction: Chris Ivory
3. Devin Smith v Jeremy Kerley
Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall will get A LOT of opportunities from the slot, but the 3rd wide receiver in the Jets offense is vital to Gailey’s system. Jeremy Kerley is one of the more underrated Wide Receivers in the league. People forget that Kerley (playing with, arguably, the worst QB in the NFL) had similar numbers to Mike Wallace in his last year with Pittsburgh. However, Kerley is going to have to do more than what he did last year to beat out second round pick Devin Smith. Smith isn’t just a speed wide receiver. Despite the pigeonholing, Smith has a decent grasp of the route tree, displays very good hands, and a has knack for high-pointing the ball. There will be an acclimation process to the physicality of pro cornerbacks, but there is no reason to think Smith won’t have a good rookie year.
Prediction: Devin Smith
4. Calvin Pace v Lorenzo Mauldin
The New York Jets picked up Calvin Pace’s option with good reason. Pace is a veteran that can ease a new head coach’s transition and mentor any of the new guys. Quinton Coples will start at one of the OLB spots while Pace will be fending off rookie Lorenzo Mauldin. By now you are probably familiar with Mauldin’s story, but what about from a strictly football standpoint? Mauldin is an angry pass rusher. He is athletic enough to cover tight ends and rush off the edge. If there is one thing Mauldin struggles with, it is his ability to consistently set the edge versus the run; that is something that Pace can help him with. However, Mauldin offers more than Pace as a pass rusher and this could tilt the battle in his favor.
Prediction: Calvin Pace
5. Dee Milliner v Dexter McDougle
Dee Milliner started as a top 10 pick in the NFL draft only to be fighting for snaps with an injury prone 3rd rounder. The former first round pick will have his work cut out for him as he both comes back from an achilles tear and has to beat out McDougle for the dime corner spot. The Jets are loaded at CB this year. Whoever wins this camp battle will have the inside track to start on the outside should injuries become a factor or should the Jets decide to move on from Antonio Cromartie next year. Milliner’s experience covering tight ends at Alabama should help his case. However, McDougle was already pushing for playing time last year and is further along in his recovery than Milliner.
Prediction: Dexter McDougle
6. Willie Colon v Brian Winters v Oday Aboushi v Dakota Dozier v Jarvis Harrison
Mike Maccagnan went out of his way to add as many bodies as he could to the offensive line. He did this in the hope that one of them would emerge at the guard position opposite James Carpenter. Interestingly enough, this competition should come down to Jarvis Harrison and four guys brought in by John Idzik. Colon is the veteran that brings steady, if unspectacular, play. Winters has been inconsistent his entire career and has been taking snaps at center, which could signal the end of his career at guard for the Jets. Aboushi started at the end of last year and flashed enough that it is safe to wonder what the Jets have with him long term. Dozier was considered a good value pick last year and will be given every chance to start after what was essentially a redshirt year. And, then there’s Jarvis Harrison. Many people believed the Jets got a steal with Harrison in the 5th, and our own Mike Nolan stated before the draft how Harrison’s only issue is his desire. If Harrison can show that he actually loves to play football, the Jets could have a good one.
Prediction: Oday Aboushi