Jets Training Camp: Five Position Battles

First a few updates:

1. RIP to former Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson, who was one of the brightest minds in the NFL.

2. Brett Favre has decided to stay retired…boohoo.

Jets Training Camp: Five Position Battles

1. Starting Quarterback: Mark Sanchez vs. Kellen Clemens vs. Erik Ainge (Just Kidding)

Why Sanchez Will Win: The Jets didn’t trade up to draft Sanchez and pay him 60 million dollars to have him sit on the bench. Rex Ryan watched Joe Flacco lead the Ravens to the AFC Championship game last year and will believe Sanchez can do the same. The rookie from USC only has to keep it close with Kellen Clemens this summer and the job will be his.

Why Clemens Will Win: He is more experienced in the offense and the Jets are built to win now. Sanchez only had 16 starts at USC and simply won’t be ready to lead a NFL offense by September. Similar to how Chad Pennington was out playing him last summer, Clemens will use his knowledge of Brian Schottenheimer’s offense to handily outplay the overwhelmed rookie this summer.

Prediction: The two quarterbacks will play relatively even this summer, which means Mark Sanchez will win the job.

2. Starting Wide Receiver: Chansi Stuckey vs. Brad Smith vs. David Clowney

Why Stuckey Will Win: He performed the best in mini-camp and OTA’s and is coming off the best season in 2008. He had more catches than Smith and Clowney combined last year, and is by far the most polished of the group at the position.

Why Clowney Will Win: Speed kills and the Jets desperately need it on offense. Clowney will get over his drops in the spring and be a big play machine all summer.

Why Smith Will Win: He has the best combination of size and speed and is the best overall athlete. He will finally put it all together this summer as a wide receiver.

Prediction: Stuckey will receive most of the reps as the #2, followed by Clowney, and then Smith.

3. Outside Linebacker (Week 1-4): Vernon Gholston vs. Marques Murrell

Why Gholston Will Win: The guy was the number 6 overall pick in the draft for a reason. Rex Ryan will push Gholston towards becoming the elite pass rusher the Jets drafted him to be.

Why Murrell Will Win: He is hungrier than Gholston and plays with more passion for the game. Gholston was simply a workout wonder and won’t be able to translate his talent to the NFL level.

Prediction: Gholston will start, but Murrell will still receive 25-30% of the reps.

4. Nickel-Back: Donald Strickland vs. Dwight Lowery

Why Strickland Will Win: The veteran has been a pretty good nickel back the previous few seasons and Ryan will feel comfortable with him in the game in key 3rd down situations.

Why Lowery Will Win: He showed plenty of talent in his rookie season and was a quality starter for the first few weeks of the year. Lowery will learn from his rookie mistakes and develop into a quality nickel-back.

Prediction: Even though most people expect Strickland to win the job, I like what I saw from Lowery last season and think he will be guy.

5. #2 Tight End: Kareem Brown vs. Richard Owens vs. Jack Simmons

Why Brown Will Win: After being moved from defensive end, Brown had a productive spring and impressed the coaching staff with the potential he has displayed. Somehow, he has the most experience in this offense despite only being on it since the 2008 season ended.

Why Owens Will Win: He is the only player among these three with NFL experience at tight end.

Why Simmons Will Win: The UDFA had a strong showing in the spring and will build on that in the summer. He was a productive player last season in college and is the only player of the three who played tight end at any level of football last year (Owens was out of the league and Brown was a DE).

Prediction: I think Brown and Simmons end up splitting the reps as the #2 tight end.

Jets Highlight of the Article: Who can forget this 2007 match-up between the Jets and Rex Ryan’s (as a D coordinator) Baltimore Ravens. Look at my boy Cotchery tearing it up, but more importantly look at $#%$% Justin McCariens dropping passes. I will never forget shattering a remote control on this day because of #81.

Jets Positional Analysis: Outside Linebackers

First a few updates:

1. Rich Cimini is reporting that there has been substantial progress in Leon Washington’s contract talks, with hopes of finishing up a deal by Friday. If they are really that close to a deal, you would think Washington won’t bother skipping any days of training camp and accumulating daily fines.

2. Speaking of Leon Washington, here is an encouraging quote from Rex Ryan about #29 given to Peter King in his MMQB article, “He had six touchdowns on 73 carries last year. That number has to go up — drastically, and it will” Thank you, Rex.

3. How about those ESPN pre-training camp Power Rankings? The Jets came in at #23, despite going 9-7 last year and adding Bart Scott, Jim Leonhard, Lito Sheppard, Mark Sanchez, Shonn Greene, and Marques Douglas. Yes, they lost Brett Favre and his 23 interceptions but #23, c’mon now? Behind the Texans? Behind the 4-12 Seattle Seahawks? Behind the Bills? Behind the Redskins? Behind the 49ers?

4. The Yankees can tie for the best record in baseball tonight with a win and a Dodgers loss…who wants to bat against Burnett, CC, and Joba right now?

Jets Positional Analysis: Outside Linebackers

I am motivated to finish this before the Jets first practice on Friday morning, all I got left is the LB’s and special teams.

1. Calvin Pace #97, Starting Outside Linebacker (Suspended First Four Games), Last Season: 80 Tackles, 7 Sacks, 7 Tackles For Loss, 5 Forced Fumbles, 3 Passes Defensed

History: The Jets signed Pace to a monster contract before last season and he responded with a very good all around year. Despite some struggles in pass coverage, Pace was still one of the Jets top playmakers on defense. Rex Ryan’s scheme should allow Pace more chances to rush the quarterback, which plays to his strengths. Unfortunately, he has been suspended for the first four games of the 2009 season for using a banned substance, putting pressure on the younger Jets OLB’s to step up.

Chance of Making Roster: 100%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Pace comes back in week 5 as a man on a mission and exceeds his sack total from last season despite only playing 12 games. Ryan’s scheme plays to his talents and he provides a huge boost to the Jets D in the middle of the year.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: He struggles to adjust and make an impact after missing the first four games and isn’t the same player he was last year.

Prediction: Unless Bryan Thomas and Vernon Gholston/Marques Murrell are revelations in the first four weeks, Pace will return as a starter in week 5 and should be even better than he was last season. Obviously, his numbers will be down because of his shortened season but he should still be more of a threat rushing the QB in 2009.

2. Bryan Thomas #99, Starting Outside Linebacker, Last Season: 57 Tackles, 5.5 Sacks, 6 Tackles For Loss, 3 Forced Fumbles, 1 Pass Defensed

History: Thomas has had a disappointing roller coaster career since the Jets drafted him in the first round back in 2002. After 4 quiet years, he had a breakout year in 2006 under Eric Mangini and was awarded with a new contract. He admittedly slacked off in 2007 and then rebounded with a strong start in 2008 but was very quiet in the second half of the year. With Calvin Pace suspended 4 games, Thomas needs to step up in 2008 as the Jets only veteran outside linebacker.

Chance of Making Roster: 100%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Thomas flourishes in Ryan’s system and starts the year off with a bang as the featured playmaker at OLB with Pace suspended. He matches his 2006 production level.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: Thomas picks up where he left off when the 2008 season ended, leaving the Jets extremely weak at the OLB spot, especially in the first 4 weeks.

Prediction: Thomas will be a decent starter for the Jets in 2009, but hopefully begin to be rotated out towards the middle of the year with younger players like Vernon Gholston and Marques Murrell.

3. Vernon Gholston #50, Last Season: 13 Tackles (I just winced)

History: Gholston was the sixth overall pick in the 2008 draft and showed nothing to merit that last year. He was basically invisible on defense and an average special teams player at best. The organization is hoping Rex Ryan can get the most out of Gholston’s immense talent and turn him into their version Terrell Suggs. Ryan has already proclaimed Gholston as the starter in Pace’s absence for the first four weeks, hopefully he can rise to the occasion.

Chance of Making Roster: 100%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Gholston takes advantage of Pace’s absence and plays well enough to move over to the other starting OLB spot when Calvin returns. He begins to show signs of being a great pass rusher, finishing with 7-9 sacks after having zero last year.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: Gholston is beat out by Marques Murrell or Jason Trusnik in training camp and isn’t a factor on the defense.

Prediction: I think Gholston will be adequate filling in for Pace but won’t play well enough to be a full time starter when he returns. I can see Gholston ending up with 5-6 sacks this year.

4. Marques Murrell #94, Last Season: 9 Tackles, 1 Forced Fumble

History: Murrell has been a practice squad/special team player for the Jets the past couple of seasons and shown some decent potential. Rex Ryan praised him effusively during mini-camp, leading many to think he could end up being a factor on the defense this year. He will have a shot to carve out some playing time with Calvin Pace suspended for four games.

Chance of Making Roster: 90%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Murrell develops into a valuable pass rushing weapon and pushes Vernon Gholston for playing time at outside linebacker.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: Murrell doesn’t rise to the occasion in pre-season and remains a special teams player.

Prediction: He will see some quality reps in the first four weeks of the year and then continue to have a role, though somewhat smaller, on the defense for the rest of the year.

5. Jason Trusnik #96, Last Season: 10 Tackles

History: Another young linebacker who showed some potential last season and could compete for extended playing time in 2009.

Chance of Making Roster: 85%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: He develops into a valuable role player on defense and remains a good special teams player.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: He struggles in training camp and doesn’t end up making the active roster.

Prediction: Trusnik will be a role/depth player on defense and remain on the active roster.

Overall Position Analysis: All eyes will be on Vernon Gholston to step up and fill the void left by Calvin Pace. However, Bryan Thomas and Marques Murrell also need to step up their play to help fill the void for the first four weeks.

Jets Highlight of the Day: An entertaining highlight film of Vernon Gholston at Ohio State…the talent is there.

New York Jets Training Camp Preview 2009

First a few updates:

1. Yankees are up a healthy 2.5 games on Boston after taking 3 out 4 from the A’s, and 9 out of 10 on their home stand. Big week coming up with road trips to Tampa and Chicago though, I am saying they take 2 out 3 against the Rays to start the week off. How about those Mets, though? They won 2 out of 3 this weekend…shocking.

2. Big day tomorrow, we have our playoffs in my YMCA basketball league. The whole tournament is tomorrow, and we are entering as the #2 seed, despite our sub-par 3-3 regular season record. You heard it  here first, the green team is taking home the trophy….well we don’t have a trophy, but we are taking the title anyway.

New York Jets Training Camp Preview 2009

The Jets are heading up to Cortland, New York at the end of this week to begin their 2009 season. It will be Rex Ryan’s first camp as a head coach in the NFL and all ears will be up for the boisterous former defensive coordinator of the Ravens, while all eyes will be on prized rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez. What should you look for over the next 6 weeks of non-regular season football? Here’s a guide…

– The primary storyline will be the quarterback competition between rookie Mark Sanchez and 4th year veteran Kellen Clemens. Expect daily tallies of their statistics in 7 on 7’s and team drills and a daily winner of the practice proclaimed by all the beat writers. August 14th is the date of the Jets first pre-season game, and it will be interesting to see if Mark Sanchez can unseat Kellen Clemens by that day, and if he doesn’t, if he can outplay him on that night. Clemens will take the first snap with the first offense this week, but Sanchez will be given every shot to win the job. Unless Clemens turns into Peyton Manning this summer or Sanchez turns into Brooks Bollinger, you can bet on #6 being under center for week 1.

– Thomas Jones and Leon Washington are both currently in contract disputes and it remains to be seen if they will skip training camp and accept the daily fines. Apparently, there has been minor progress in Washington’s talks but no movement on Thomas Jones. I am going to be an optimist and say that Washington shows up to camp and a deal is done within the first week. Jones will show up but won’t talk to the media. Eventually, the Jets will reach some compromise with him, as they did with Laveranues Coles and Chris Baker last year to appease Jones for this season before letting him go at the end of the year. In other running back news, keep an eye on rookie Shonn Greene and how many carries he is getting in goal-line/short yardage situations. The coaching staff loves him and believes he is the heir apparent to Jones. Danny Woodhead will make for some nice training camp stories but won’t make the roster, the fifth running back will be Jehuu Caulcrick, who has the ability to play both FB and RB and will remind Rex Ryan of Le’Ron McClain.

– Chansi Stuckey will start out as the Jets #2 receiver and probably won’t relinquish the job. David Clowney is probably the fastest guy on the team but needs to get over the case of the drops he had in the spring. Brad Smith will get everybody excited, like he does every August, but then likely settle in his #4 receiver role. Watch for Mario Urrutia and Huey Whittaker, two little known guys who have good combinations of size and speed. Urrutia is 6’6 and could provide the Jets with a much needed red-zone target.

– The battle for the Jets #2 tight end spot will be between converted defensive lineman Kareem Brown, journeyman backup Richard Owens, and two UDFA’s J’Nathan Bullock and Jack Simmons. The coaching staff must think Brown can handle the transition or else they would have signed somebody else, right? I am still skeptical but as of now, look for Brown and Simmons to rise to the top of this weak group behind Dustin Keller. Speaking of #81, it will be interesting to see all the different places Brian Schottenheimer has him lined up on in the offense.

– Watch the offensive lineman if you want, but just pray that none of the them get hurt. The coaching staff will be hoping to see 6th round draft pick Matt Slauson show long term potential and also that Robert Turner and Wayne Hunter can handle extended playing time if one of the front five go down. Expect to see Turner also used as an extra tight end in some short yardage sets.

– On defense, listen for Bart Scott’s incessant trash talking and enjoy the the thought of him and David Harris making all the tackles they want because of the protection provided by Kris Jenkins, who should have a light work load this August. Backups Sione Pouha and Howard Green need the reps. Also, watch out for Ropati Pitoitua who spent last season on the practice squad, but could be a factor on the defensive line rotation. Mike DeVito and Marques Douglas will be out to prove they can handle splitting the one starting defensive end spot this pre-season.

– Vernon Gholston will be facing tons of pressure and daily scrutiny to live up to his lofty draft status. It is on him to lead the way in filling the hole left by Calvin Pace for the first four weeks of the regular season. Marques Murrell and Jason Trunsick will also be seeing increased reps at the outside linebacker position. Another guy to watch for is UDFA Jamaal Westerman from Rutgers, who Rex Ryan has done nothing but rave about since the second he stepped on the field this past spring. Westerman was a defensive end in college but has been working at both inside and outside linebacker for the Jets.

– In the secondary, look for a more active Kerry Rhodes and and a battle for reps alongside Darrelle Revis at cornerback. Lito Sheppard should be the starter opposite him, but beyond him Dwight Lowery, Donald Strickland, Drew Coleman, and Ahmad Carroll will be battling for playing time.

– By the way, who is the Jets punter? Reggie Hodges? I hope not. Hopefully, rookie TJ Conley can seize the job.

Enjoy the practices, and let’s all look forward to:

1. The meticulously put together daily passing statistics of Mark Sanchez, with every pass dissected and analyzed.

2. The stories about how versatile Brad Smith is.

3. The stories about how Danny Woodhead is fighting against the odds, because he played Division II football and because he is really small.

4. The stories about Leon Washington getting the ball more.

5. Rex Ryan’s daily press conferences, filled with jokes, trash-talk, and amusing stories.

6. The discussion of how much more “fun” Ryan is than Eric Mangini and how he has brought a new attitude to the team.

7. The stories about Bart Scott yelling at the offense after every play.

8. The stories about how fast David Clowney is.

9. The inevitable player on offense and defense who comes out of nowhere to have a great camp, but then still gets cut after the last pre-season game.

10. The 17 articles that will be written if Vernon Gholston misses a tackle at practice.

Jets Highlight of the Day: Season highlights from 2006…the last time the Jets made the playoffs.

5 Questions About the Jets Receivers Answered

First a few updates:

1. A little two-a-day action today in honor of training camp being only 9 days away. I just recorded the podcast with Marty Schupak over (www.greenrewind.com), go check it out.

2. TV Discussion of the Day – Episode 2 of Entourage? Better than the first I thought, the whole Turtle/Seth Rogan thing was hilarious and TurnOnTheJets.com can never get enough of Sloan or Meadow Soprano for that manner. I am not a big fan of this new girl E is hooking up with however, he can do better. Also, I am embarrassed to admit I am excited about Comic-Con being this weekend…why? We may finally get some information about LOST’s final season…very exciting stuff. You can hate all you want, but go watch the show and then come talk to me.

3. Boston is currently losing 3-1 in the 6th inning…2 game lead for the Yanks, anyone? Did I just jinx them?

5 Questions About the Jets Receivers Answered

Mark Bungaard runs a Danish Jets Blog over at (www.newyorkjets.dk), which will be now be linked up on the side of the site. I actually won their website’s 2008 prediction challenge, which required me to guess a bunch of stats about the team and yes I expect to defend my title this year. Anyway, Mark has noticed my extensive writing on the Jets WR’s and e-mailed me 5 questions about them, here are my responses and make sure to check out his site over at (www.newyorkjets.dk).

1. The Jets enter the 2009 season with Jerricho Cotchery as the number one receiver. Now you could argue that he was number one last year, but back then he had Laveranues Coles to take some of the pressure off of him. Do you think Cotchery is capable of being a productive number one this year?

It depends on how you define productive, he won’t produce like the top flight number one receivers in the game and won’t have pro-bowl caliber numbers but he will be a consistent, tough player week in and week out. Cotchery should be in the 80-85 catch, 1100-1200 yard range, similar to how he was in 2007 except hopefully he will score more touchdowns. The Jets need #89 to find the end-zone and create a few big plays with his exceptional run after the catch ability to help out their young quarterbacks.

2. A lot of people have Chansi Stuckey pencilled in as the starter opposite Cotchery, but is he really suited for this role or would his skillset be better utilized in the slot?

– Stuckey’s skill set is a much better fit for the slot than as the split end opposite Cotchery. However, as of right now he is the Jets second best overall receiver, which means he deserves the spot and the second most reps. Expect the Jets to get creative to find ways to flip him and Cotchery around in different formations to play better to Stuckey’s skill set and Cotchery’s versatility to play both outside and in the slot.

3. There is no doubt that Brad Smith has the physical tools to become a good WR but he is still learning the position. Do you think he will ever develop into a valuable player for the Jets or is he a lost cause?

– I don’t want to say he is a lost cause because I think he has value as a gadget player/red-zone target/and special teams player but don’t expect him to go out and have 50 catches this season. Smith has the size and versatility to be a valuable role player on the Jets offense. They can use him in the wildcat, use him on reverses, throw the fade ball to him but I don’t think he will ever develop into a full time starter.

4. Wallace Wright reportedly looked good in mini camp and OTAs. Do you think he’ll emerge as a receiver or is he strickly a special teamer?

– Wright is a guy to keep an eye on. He had a chance to play a little receiver in 2007 and did pretty good with it. He is obviously athletically gifted because of how he excels on special teams and apparently lit it up during OTAs, catching Rex Ryan’s attention. If there is a season where Wright can battle for some WR reps, this is it.

5. David Clowney looked really interesting last preseason. How do you think Shottenheimer plans to use him this year?

– Hopefully Schottenheimer will use him as the Jets primary deep threat but also allow him to run some other routes so teams don’t know the long ball is coming whenever he is in the game. Defenses will respect Clowney’s speed, which will open up the deep curl and comeback for him, making him a potentially valuable weapon for the Jets offense. 
 
Jets Highlight of this Article: Jerricho Cotchery makes an amazing one-handed catch against the Pats last season.

Jets Fantasy Football Preview

First a few updates:

1. Rex Ryan spoke today at a summer camp he was working and as usual had a few interesting things to say. First off, he stated that Vernon Gholston is his starter in place of Calvin Pace. I think this may be more of a PR move to boost the kid’s confidence and quell some questions about how he performed in OTAs. If Gholston struggles in pre-season, he could start the first series week one and then be subbed out for the rest of the game for Marques Murrell, Jason Trunsick, or somebody else. He still has to earn his reps. Ryan also commented about how confident he was in his group of receivers, and mentioned one unnamed player who he believed was going to turn some heads this year (I am thinking Chansi Stuckey, since he had such a strong mini-camp).

2. I advise everybody to check out (www.GreenRewind.com) Marty Schupak runs a great podcast over there and I actually will be on the program tonight, so if you want to hear my voice, go check out the web site and check out all of Marty’s past shows…all quality Jets material. I also added his link over on the side of the home page.

3. No news on Thomas Jones or Leon Washington….although Rex Ryan stated he expects both to be at the beginning of training camp (only 9 days away)…we’ll just have to see.

4. Another day…another Yankees win and hopefully another Boston loss tonight.

Jets Fantasy Football Preview

Who doesn’t play fantasy football these days? The Jets haven’t been a popular team in the fantasy world the past few years and that doesn’t look to change this season. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t value on their roster. Let’s take a look:

Best Bets:

1. Jets Defense/Special Teams – The Jets are generally ranked as a top 7-10 defense in most fantasy outlooks. They were very good last year, creating a high amount of turnovers and scoring a handful of defensive touchdowns, and that shouldn’t change under Rex Ryan who will be more aggressive than Eric Mangini. Also, Leon Washington is a constant threat to return a kick for a touchdown which increases their value. They don’t have a dominant pass rusher but have playmakers in the secondary with Darrelle Revis, Kerry Rhodes, and Lito Sheppard, a dominant defensive lineman in Kris Jenkins and a deep, solid group of linebackers.

2. Dustin Keller – Since the Jets are thin at receiver and will be starting a young quarterback, Dustin Keller should be receiving plenty of looks this season. Keller already had 48 catches his rookie season, despite splitting playing time with Chris Baker and Bubba Franks, both of whom are now gone. He should also be their primary red-zone target because of his size and the difficulty he creates in terms of match-ups. Keller is a very good option as a starting tight end for your fantasy team, and should be good for 60-65 catches with 6-7 touchdowns.

Quality Starters:

1. Thomas Jones – It is unfair to expect Jones to match his monster 2008 season, which saw him rack up 1519 total yards with 15 touchdowns. However, he should still remain the 1,100+ yard back that he has been the past four seasons. Leon Washington and Shonn Greene will cut into his touches and maybe a few of his goal-line looks (especially in Greene’s case) but Jones will be the Jets primary ball carrier and they are going to be running the football alot, making him a solid #2 option at RB in most fantasy leagues.

2. Jerricho Cotchery – Cotchery has been a fantasy disappointment that last two seasons after breaking on the scene in 2006. Yet, he is the Jets unquestioned number one receiver in 2009 and should have more looks than he has ever seen in his career. Cotchery is probably out of place as a #1 but he will still be a productive player this season. You shouldn’t be concerned about his catches or yards, since he probably will be in the 80-85 catch/1100-1200 yard range, the real question is how many touchdowns will he score? His career high for a season is 6, which was 3 years ago. I am not sure he will top that this season, making him a #3 WR in most fantasy leagues.

Sleepers:

1. Leon Washington – It is hard to consider #29 a sleeper since has was a pro-bowler last season and is a big time playmaker, yet he doesn’t receive enough touches to be a fantasy starter. Hopefully, Brian Schottenheimer will include him more in the offense in 2009, making it worth having him as a spot starter/backup. Last year he had 783 offensive yards and 9 total touchdowns, you should expect a bump in those numbers this season.

2. David Clowney – While I think Chansi Stuckey will start opposite Jerricho Cotchery, Clowney has a better chance to provide more big plays and touchdowns. I am hoping Clowney can turn into Dedric Ward on the 1998 Jets, with his key long TD receptions and huge yards per catch average. Clowney is hit or miss this year but should be the Jets primary deep threat and could be worth a late round draft pick and a spot start if you are desperate.

Super-Sleepers:

1. Shonn Greene – The Jets #3 running back entering training camp but if Thomas Jones/Leon Washington have any type of extended holdouts, he could quickly see his reps climb up. Even if both players are around all summer, Greene should see some short yardage/goal-line/4th quarter touches. It remains to be seen exactly how many goal-line carries he will get, which will ultimately determine his fantasy value this season.

2. Brad Smith – Maybe the versatile Smith can put it all together in his fourth year at wide receiver. He has the size to be a weapon in the red-zone and also should see some carries on reverses and in the wildcat formation. I wouldn’t bank on him doing anything of fantasy value in 2009, but you never know.

Jets Highlight of the Day: Highlights from Dustin Keller’s rookie season in Green and White…great fantasy option at tight end in 2009.

A Receiver's View of the Jets Receivers

First a few updates:

1. Rich Cimini caught up with Leon Washington at a commercial shoot and wrote an article in today’s Daily News about their discussion. Apparently, there has been little to no progress on his ongoing contract negotiations with the Jets and he is seriously considering holding out in training camp, which begins July 30th. Mike Tannenbaum…your organization has the money, Leon Washington is your top playmaker, he has been a model Jet his entire career and is heavily underpaid right now, give him the new contract he deserves.

2. I wasn’t crazy about the season premiere of Entourage. Last season was a step up from the previous two, so I am hoping they won’t start regressing again. I can deal with the show lacking any plot because of the humor but the first episode wasn’t even that funny. However, I am glad to see Sloan back in the mix…TurnOnTheJets.com is a big fan of her.

 

3. Second half baseball predictions: Red Sox win the AL East, Yankees take the wild card. Mets finish 15 games out of first place. Pedro Martinez bombs with the Phillies. World Series? Dodgers vs. Yankees…that’s right after starting out 0-8 against Boston and losing the division to them, the Yankees upset them in the ALCS.

A Receiver’s View of the Jets Receivers

Let me preface this article by stating I am certainly no expert on the wide receiver position and I am not claiming to be. However, I did play the position for 2 years in little league, 4 years in high school and 4 years in college. I have also been to multiple receiver camps and been required to watch countless hours of tape about the position, so I like to think I have some idea of what I am talking about.

I am biased in that I love talking about the position and decided that after going back through some Jets game tape from the past two seasons, I would write an article about my observations on the Jets personnel in 2009. Anyway, here it goes:

The Jets enter 2009 with a clear number one receiver, Jerricho Cotchery. Brian Schottenheimer will be moving him all over the field in an attempt to have him heavily involved in every game. Cotchery will work primarily out of the slot, but will also be split out in certain situations and frequently be put into motion in an attempt to free him up.

When I watch Cotchery play, I am constantly impressed with his hands, ability to run after the catch, precise routes, and strong knowledge of the defense. Regardless, he has some physical limitations which prevent him from being a top flight NFL receiver. Simply put, he lacks the the size and speed to constantly fight off double teams and get open. He also lacks the top end speed to run by most corners in the NFL, which is why most “go” routes thrown to him the past two years, end up being jump balls, with Cotchery either knocking it away, occasionally making an acrobatic catch, or it being picked off.

Arguably the best game Cotchery ever played was against the Ravens in 2007. He racked up 7 catches for 165 yards and single-handily kept them in the game. Ironically, his success was because of the lack of respect Rex Ryan showed him. He constantly left him in single coverage with nickle back Corey Ivy in the slot or a safety. Cotchery simply kept running option routes, and choosing to run about a 10 yard stop or out route, he would then break a tackle and be off for a huge gain. Unfortunately as the Jets number one, team’s top corners will be following him around the field and he won’t have the space to operate that he did against Ravens on that day.

Cotchery excels in the short to intermediate passing game. He is at his best when he is running intermediate crossing routes or short option routes. A good day at the office for him should be 6 catches for 70 yards, since he lacks game breaking ability. He isn’t quick to enough to beat corners on double move routes consistently or to run by them. His big plays this season will come on a short catch, with a long run after since he runs more like a running back than a receiver.

Chansi Stuckey is easily the Jets next most polished receiver. He is very good in short spaces, runs crisp routes, and has very good hands. He is a prototype slot/#3 receiver. Stuckey found success last season working out the slot on 5-7 yards option routes (which he mostly snapped into quick hitches or outs) and short screens or crossing patterns. He is guy you want in on 3rd 4-6 yards to go. Unfortunately, since the Jets are thin at the position he will likely be asked to play alot of split end this year, which doesn’t fit his strengths at all.

An outside receiver needs to be able to run the deep curl and comeback route. Stuckey is quick, not fast. Cornerbacks won’t be scared of him running by them on a “go” route, which means they will be on top of him when he snaps back for a curl or comeback. This isn’t a problem for most split ends since they usually have good size and are more possesion receivers. They can simply used their large frame to shield off the defensive back, yet Stuckey is barely 6 foot and 190 pounds and doesn’t have that ability. Stuckey also doesn’t have the ideal skill set to run a deep corner or post, because he lacks top end speed.

The Jets best bet in obvious passing situations will probably be to move Stuckey in the slot and have Cotchery play on the outside, or let Dustin Keller play some split end and potentially let both Cotchery and Stuckey work in the slot, with another receiver on the outside on the other side of the field.

That other receiver could be Brad Smith or David Clowney. Smith is blessed with a good combination of size and speed but isn’t a natural wide receiver. He is still uncomfortable catching the football and struggles heavily with press coverage. Smith fights the ball, and has difficulty with those “tough” catches that aren’t easy but NFL players need to make. For example, when you run a stop/hitch route and you are working back to the quarterback to the inside and he fires the ball high and to the outside, it is a very hard catch. Yet, a NFL player needs to make that catch 9 out of 10 times. Smith isn’t at that level yet and we have seen that in 2007 when he dropped multiple passes like the one I just mentioned.

Smith would be best used in situations where his athleticism can do most of the work. He is a good target for a jump ball in single coverage and made a nice touchdown grab against the Giants in ’07 on that type of play. However, he isn’t quick enough to work out of the slot as a full time #3 guy and smart teams will press him up on the outside, limiting his effectiveness.

David Clowney doesn’t have a large body of work to study but he clearly showed he has the speed to run by defenders last pre-season. Brian Schottenheimer likes taking shots down the field by sending a receiver in short motion towards the formation and then sending them on a deep crossing route (like Clowney caught in the regular season against Buffalo) or a skinny post (like Clowney caught in the pre-season against Cleveland) usually combined with play-action. Clowney is the most qualified Jet receiver for these routes, although expect to see Cotchery also running the deep crossing route often. Another positive of Clowney’s speed is that corners will give him extra space, meaning he should be able to hitch up at 10 yards and be open a couple of times per game. He showed an ability to work the intermediate stop/hitch last pre-season also, which is important because he can’t just catch deep balls.

The Jets probably won’t have a clear cut #2, 3, and 4 receiver and will be best served by rolling their players through in packages that play to their strengths along with Dustin Keller/Leon Washington. Chansi Stuckey should be a frequent target on 3rd and short/intermediate and other situations where the Jets are looking to pick up a quick 5-8 yards. Jerricho Cotchery will be all over the place and needs to take advantage when he sees single coverage. He will catch his usual crossing routes/curls/outs but also needs to break a few tackles and make some big runs after the catch to keep the Jets offense moving. Brad Smith should be a red-zone target and remain primarily a gadget player in other situations. Clowney should be able to catch a curl route or two a game and hopefully his share of deep balls.

New Jets Player Highlight of Day: Hopefully the guy who will be throwing the balls to all these previously mentioned guys, Mark Sanchez. Here are all his pass attempts from last year’s Rose Bowl against Penn State, after a slow start, he picks it up big time.

Jets Positional Analysis: Safeties

First a few updates:

1. Yankees are one game out of first place because no matter what they can’t beat the Angels. The Mets would have a good shot of being in first place right now if they were in a AA league.

2. If you read the comments under the article on the home page entitled “End of the Weekend Jets Ramblings” you can find a prolonged debate between reader dmd13 and myself about Leon Washington. I am carving him up right now like Will Ferrell carved up James Carville in Old School.

Jets Positional Analysis: Safeties

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

1. Kerry Rhodes #25, Last Season: 84 Tackles, 1 Sack, 8 Tackles For Loss, 5 Passes Defensed, 2 Interceptions

History: Rhodes has been starting for the Jets since his rookie season in 2005, after the Jets selected him in the fourth round. He had a breakout season in 2006 and was robbed by not being selected to the pro-bowl for a season that saw him record 5 sacks, 4 INTs, 3 Forced Fumbles, 13 Passes Defensed, and 98 tackles. His numbers dipped slightly the year after and even further this past season. Many people blame Rhodes lack of big play production on Eric Mangini/Bob Sutton’s poor use of him and him lacking a partner at safety with range to cover and stop the run. The Jets signed Jim Leonhard this season to allow Rhodes to have more freedom and make plays for the defense.

Chance of Making Roster: 100%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Rhodes becomes New York’s version of Ed Reed and is constantly creating big plays in Rex Ryan’s attacking scheme. He makes his first pro-bowl appearance and establishes himself as one of the elite safeties in the game.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: His numbers continue to decline, making it look like 2006-2007 were fluke seasons for Rhodes.

Prediction: I think Rhodes is going to thrive in Rex Ryan’s system and he will be greatly aided by having Jim Leonhard, someone with strong pass coverage skills, next to him. Expect his numbers to be very similar to what they were in 2006.

2. Jim Leonhard #36, Last Season: 69 Tackles, 1 Sack, 1 Tackle For Loss, 6 Passes Defensed, 1 INT, 1 Touchdown

History: Leonhard didn’t do much his first two seasons in the NFL but did an excellent job of stepping in for an injured Dawan Landry last season, showing his ability to play at this level. His play improved as the season went on and he had a huge impact in Baltimore’s playoff run. He is comfortable with Rex Ryan’s defensive scheme and should help Kerry Rhodes make plays in the same way his abilities helped Ed Reed make plays.

Chance of Making Roster: 100%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Leonhard builds on last season and gives the Jets consistent play at safety opposite Rhodes for the first time in years. He helps teach Ryan’s defense to the entire secondary, easing their transition to a new scheme.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: Leonhard struggles adjusting to becoming a full time starter for an entire season. He eventually loses his job to Eric Smith, meaning the Jets wasted money signing him in the off-season.

Prediction: Leonhard will be a steady, consistent player in the Jets secondary. I dont’ expect tons of big plays from him but definitely a major improvement in pass coverage from Abram Elam last year.

3. Eric Smith #33, Last Season: 32 Tackles, 1 Tackle For Loss, 4 Passes Defensed, 1 INT

History: Smith was drafted by the Jets in 2006 and had a pretty good rookie season. He has struggled with injuries the past couple of season and didn’t seize the starting job last year when given the opportunity. However, he did have a good mini-camp/OTA’s recording numerous interceptions and impressing Rex Ryan.

Chance of Making Roster: 100%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Smith develops into a valuable role player on defense and continues to play well on special teams. If Jim Leonhard or Kerry Rhodes gets hurt he is able to step in and do the job adequately.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: Smith struggles to find a role on the defense and doesn’t provide any valuable reps to the unit.

Prediction: Smith will be a quality third safety for the Jets and contribute in some nickle and dime packages, while also playing special teams.

4. James Ihedigbo #44, Last Season: 8 Tackles, 1 Killer Holding Penalty on Special Teams

History: Ihedigbo has bounced around the Jets practice squad and inactive roster the past couple of years. However, he was active for a few games last season but unfortunately his most memorable play was a holding call that brought back a Leon Washington kick return touchdown against the 49ers. Rex Ryan did say he liked what he saw from him during OTA’s as the Jets #4 safety.

Chance of Making Roster: 75%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Ihedigbo is the Jets #4 safety and a core special teams player.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: He gets cut because he is beat out by one of the Jets UDFA’s.

Prediction: I expect him to make the roster and be the number 4 safety.

The Rest of the Guys:

5. Emanuel Cook #38 – A UDFA who probably should have been drafted but has some character issues. He has some talent and has been compared to Abram Elam because of his hard hitting style of play.

6. Keith Fitzhugh #37 – Another UDFA who will compete for a roster spot as a special teams player and reserve DB.

Overall Position Analysis: Rhodes and Leonhard will be the starters, with Smith providing a quality backup to both spots. Ihedigbo should be the fourth safety but keep an eye on Cook during training camp.

Highlight of New Jets Player of the Day: Safety Jim Leonhard records a sack and has a nice punt return on consecutive plays last year:

Jets Positional Analysis: Cornerbacks

First a few updates:

1. The Jets signed free agent tackle Nevin McCaskill today. He has bounced around the Bills, Packers, and Eagles practice squad the past couple of seasons. Exciting stuff…

2. Check out Brian Bassett’s response to Mike Florio’s recent biased Jets bashing over at Pro Football Talk here…(http://www.thejetsblog.com/2009/07/06/in-which-i-trash-lazy-hot-seat-conjecture-from-mike-florio/)  — Good work Bassett. Florio has done a nice job over at PFT but his tiring, baseless Jets bashing hurts his credibility. I don’t know what his story is, maybe some Jets fans took his lunch money when he was a little kid or something.

3. There has been some talk about ESPN’s Adam Schefter’s twitters about Vernon Gholston, claiming he struggled in OTAs. First off, it is OTA’s…how much can a pass rusher struggle in practice without pads? Second, I will take the word of the Jets beat writers who were at every available practice and said Gholston had a decent mini-camp/OTA’s over Schefter who was probably at one practice.

Jets Positional Analysis: Cornerbacks

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

1. Darrelle “Young Lockdown” Revis #24, Last Season: 58 tackles, 5 Interceptions, 16 passes defensed, 1 touchdown, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble.

History: Revis was the Jets first round pick in 2007 and instantly made them look smart for drafting him. After an impressive rookie campaign, Revis took his game to the next level last year by becoming a pro-bowl player. He made his share of big plays in the limited number of balls thrown his way and consistently matched-up with the other team’s best receiver, predominantly with good results.

Chance of Making Roster: 100%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Revis keeps getting better and becomes an all-pro player. He proves to be a lock down corner in his battles against Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Lee Evans, Andre Johnson, and Steve Smith. Revis also continues to make big plays, matching or exceeding his interception total from the previous year.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: Revis struggles against his high level of competition this season, keeping the Jets pass defense vulnerableor he suffers an injury.

Prediction: Revisis a great player and I don’t see him regressing from last season. I think his numbers will be comparable to last year, if not slightly higher and he will hold his own against the top flight receivers he faces this year.

2. Lito Sheppard #26, Last Season: 21 tackles, 1 interception, 4 passes defensed, 1 forced fumble

History: Sheppard was a pro-bowl corner for the Eagles in both 2004 and 2006, showing a knack for making big plays and being able to match-up with big time receivers. However, he has struggled with injuries the previous two years and was moved to nickel back last season when Philly signed Asante Samuel. The Jets are hoping Sheppard can rejuvenate his career in New York and provide a stable player opposite Darrelle Revis.

Chance of Making Roster: 100%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Sheppard returns to his 2006 form and is able to handle the high amount of balls thrown his way, giving the Jets one of the best cornerback duos in the NFL.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: Sheppard struggles with injuries and inconsistent play again, leaving the Jets vulnerable on the other side of Revis.

Prediction: I can’t lie, I am worried about Sheppard. I think when he is on the field he will be able to hold his own and be an upgrade from what they had last year but I think you will see him miss a few games with injury and struggle a little bit early season when offenses are constantly coming after him.

3. Donald Strickland, #27, Last Season: 38 tackles, 1 forced fumble, 5 passes defensed

History: Strickland is a 7 year veteran who has been a solid nickelback the past couple of seasons for the 49ers. The Jets signed him to provide some competition with Dwight Lowery for the nickel spot and to provide some more experience to the secondary.

Chance of Making Roster: 90%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Strickland provides the Jets good depth and plays well in the nickel packages. He is also able to step in and do an adequate job if Sheppard or Revis goes down for a few weeks.

Wost Case Scenario for 2009: Strickland struggles in training camp and is buried on the depth chart or eventually cut.

Prediction: I think Strickland and Dwight Lowery will be splitting the nickelback role based on certain situations or match-ups. Based on his career, you can’t expect many big plays from Strickland but if he could be an upgrade from Drew Coleman in the slot last season it will improve the Jets pass defense.

4. Dwight Lowery #21, Last Season: 64 tackles, 1 interception, 16 passes defensed, 5 forced fumbles

History: Lowery was the Jets fourth round pick last season and managed to be their starting cornerback by week one. He began the season strongly but started to struggle around the middle of the year and was replaced in the starting line-up by mid-season acquisition Ty Law. Lowery showed a great nose for the ball however with 5 forced fumbles and 16 passes defense. Despite lacking top end speed, he showed a good deal of potential last season.

Chance of Making Roster: 90%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Lowery improves from last season and develops into a very good nickel back for the Jets and somebody who can eventually take over for Lito Sheppard. He continues to force turnovers.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: He regresses from last year and struggles to adjust to Rex Ryan’s new scheme. Lowery turns into nothing more than a special teams player, after starting for the first half of his rookie season.

Prediction: Ryan will find a role for Lowery on defense as a #3/#4 corner and maybe an extra safety in a few sets. He will also be a valuable core special teams player.

5. Drew “Toast” Coleman #30, Last Season: 23 tackles, 6 passes defensed

History: Coleman was the Jets 6th round pick in 2006 and actually developed into a starter mid-way through the season. However, he eventually lost the job and had his role diminished in 2007. He was only active for 9 games last season but the games he did play in, he was usually the Jets nickelback. Unfortunately, he made a habit of getting beat like a drum in the slot especially against the Bills and 49ers.

Chance of Making Roster: 40-50%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Coleman becomes a valuable reserve and plays in some of the Jets dime packages. He remains a quality special teams player.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: He struggles in training camp and is cut before the year starts…and is obviously signed by Eric Mangini a day later.

Prediction: Unless the Jets keep 6 corners, it will be hard for Coleman to make the roster.

6. Ahmad Carroll #31, Last Season: 20 tackles, 2 forced fumbles

History: A former first round pick, who has struggled in NFL. The Jets took a shot on him last year and he turned into a very good special teams player for them. He was re-signed this year to continue in that role, with some hope that Rex Ryan can find some use for him at either corner or safety.

Chance of Making Roster: 50-60%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: He remains a very good special teams player and contributes as a backup corner/safety combo.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: He is cut before the season begins.

Prediction: I think Carroll will make the roster, remain a core special teams player and develop into good backup safety/corner for the Jets. He has the talent to be a defensive player in this league.

The Rest of the Guys

7. Marquice Cole #34 – A UDFA who bounced around the league last season…extra body for training camp.

8. Rashad Barksdale #35 – See above, although he has good size (6’5, 208 lbs).

Overall Position Analysis: Revis is a top flight corner in the NFL, Sheppard will start opposite him with Lowery and Strickland as the top backups battling for reps. Carroll should make the team because of his special teams ability and potential. Coleman is probably the odd man out, unless the Jets keep 6 CBs.

Pace Suspended 4 Games: Time to Step Up Vernon

When I was driving home from work today, I caught the end of a 20/20 update on 1050 AM which said “he will be suspended for Gang Green’s first four games.” I immediately flew into a panic, as I began to sweat out the next 20 minutes to hear who specifically would be suspended. Funny enough, while I was waiting I drove right by the new stadium and saw a huge sign advertising the Jets home opener against the Patriots. I couldn’t stop cursing as I figured with the Jets traditional luck, it was probably Thomas Jones, Leon Washington, Darrelle Revis, Kris Jenkins, or maybe even or our brand new 60 million dollar quarterback.

Finally the 20 minutes passed and I heard it was Calvin Pace…bad news, but there are worse people that could have been suspended four games. Pace is being punished for using a banned substance which he claims was in an over the counter product he took. Really? With all the team doctors/nutritionists the Jets have employed, Pace couldn’t take the time to review what he was buying? A little common sense can go a long way.

Anyway, Pace is gone until the Jets week 5 Monday night game against the Dolphins. They will have to play the Texans, Patriots, Titans and Saints without their best outside linebacker. Yet, guess who is the Jets current top backup at outside linebacker? That’s right, last year’s 6th overall pick…Vernon Gholston. After a bust rookie season, the Jets need Gholston to show some signs of being the player they drafted him to be, now more than ever. Bryan Thomas is a decent starter at the other OLB spot but now Gholston has a chance to really seize a key role on the Jets defense.

Maybe this can be a blessing in disguise, since Pace’s suspension will basically force Gholston into the starting line-up. Maybe…if Gholston isn’t up to the challenge, Marques Murrell has showed strong potential and had a very good mini-camp. He finished last season ahead of Gholston on the depth chart and if Vernon doesn’t show signs of improvement in training camp and pre-season, Murrell could very well end up seizing the job. Also keep an eye on Jason Trusnik who played well in a limited role last season and will now be pushing for more time.

Bryan Thomas is also going to have to step up his play. He is now the Jets best OLB on the field for the first four games. He needs the play the way he did during 2006 and the first half of last season. With Pace suspended and Gholston, Murrell, and Trusnik still young/unproven, Thomas will be put in position to make plays.

Jets Positional Analysis: Wide Receiver

First a few updates:

1. Visits to the site and comments on articles have been up recently, which is good news. I appreciate anybody who takes the time to read my stuff and love responding to comments on the articles, so keep ’em coming.

2. Big transaction for the Jets today, they claimed cornerback Rashad Barksdale off waivers. He was a sixth round pick of the Eagles two years ago and has bounced around a few different teams the past couple of years…hey nobody said, late June updates were going to be exciting.

3. A belated congrats to the U.S. Men’s Soccer team for upsetting Spain 2-0.

Jets Positional Analysis: Wide Receiver

Over the next 6 weeks, I am going to go through all of the Jets positions and assess each player, continuing today withthe wide receivers:

1. Jerricho Cotchery #89, Last Season: 71 Receptions, 858 yards, 5 TD’s

History: Cotchery has been a starter the past three seasons for the Jets. He had a breakout year in 2006, demonstrating a knack for making big plays and showing good run after the catch ability. In 2007, his receptions and yards went up but his touchdowns went way down. Last year, was a mildly disappointing one for Cotchery who couldn’t top the 1,000 yard mark. This year he will be the Jets unquestioned #1 receiver and needs his production level to match that title.

Chance of Making Roster: 100%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Cotchery develops in a reliable, consistent number one receiver. He is able to handle the double teams thrown his way and increases his reception, yardage, and touchdown total from the previous year.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: He struggles with the pressure of being a #1 and can’t crack the 1,000 yard mark, and also reverts to his 2007 form of not being able to find the end-zone.

Prediction: Cotchery will have a good, not great season. He is able to handle the increased attention of being a #1 in most games but is quiet in a few. I feel comfortable predicting him for 80 catches, 1150 yards and 6 touchdowns.

2. Chansi Stuckey #83, Last Season: 32 Receptions, 359 yards, 3 TD’s

History: Stuckey was the Jets 7th round pick in 2007 but missed the entire year with a foot injury. He won the #3 position last year in training camp and played well in 2008, taking advantages of his opportunities when thrown the ball. For some reason, he was phased out of the offense down the stretch despite scoring a touchdown in the Jets first three games. However, he did put together two strong late season games against the 49ers and Dolphins.

Chance of Making Roster: 100%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Stuckey steps up and thrives in the #2 role, making people ask “Laveranues who?”

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: His durability issues flare up or he struggles immensely when asked to play as a split end, instead of his more natural slot position.

Prediction: Stuckey will be the week one starter opposite Cotchery and their second leading wide receiver in 2009. I could see him with 55-60 catches for 700 yards and 4 touchdowns.

3. Brad Smith #16, Last Season: 12 Receptions, 64 Yards, 0 TD’s

History: Smith was a record breaking college quarterback drafted by the Jets in the 4th round in 2006. He has been used primarily in gadget plays and bounced around between QB, WR, and RB despite never completing a NFL pass. He was given extended playing time in 2007 at receiver but struggled with drops. On the whole, Smith was very quiet last year. Every season he seems to get everybody excited in training camp with acrobatic catches but then never translates it over to real games.

Chance of Making Roster: 100%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: It finally clicks for Smith at wide receiver and he begins utilizing his rare combination of size and speed. He becomes a big play weapon for the Jets and bounces back and forth between their #2 and #3 receiver, depending on the situation.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: He can’t make an impact on offense and is reduced to nothing more than a special teams player.

Prediction: I’m not sold on Smith as a receiver. I hope he proves me wrong but I think Stuckey and Clowney will have more of an impact on offense than he will this year. Outside of a few wildcat plays, reverses, and other gadget plays, I don’t think he’ll do much in 2009. Maybe 15 catches and 20 carries.

4. David Clowney #17, Last Season: 1 Reception, 26 yards, 0 TD’s

History: Clowney was a pre-season sensation for the Jets last year. He burst on the scene in their first pre-season game by catching two 70+ yard touchdowns and continued to excel until he broke his collar bone right before the regular season started. Clowney spent most of the season inactive but did make a one-handed grab against Buffalo in week 15 for 26 yards.

Chance of Making Roster: 95%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Clowney is able to stay healthy and become the deep threat the Jets have lacked since Santana Moss.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: He continues to struggle with drops (as he did in mini-camp) and can’t get on the field or his durability issues turn up again.

Prediction: I think Clowney will be a big play guy for the Jets. Eventually, he will pass Brad Smith as the #3 receiver on the team and see some action in 2 WR sets when the Jets want to attack deep. This may be wishful thinking for a guy with 1 career NFL catch, but I am going to say 20-25 catches, 350 yards, and 3 touchdowns.

5. Wallace Wright #15, Last Season: Many special teams tackles

History: The Jets special teams ace who had a very good mini-camp at wide receiver. Wright saw some action at receiver in 2007 and did pretty good with it, catching 6 passes for 87 yards so there is some talk he will get on the field again this year with the position wide open after Jerricho Cotchery.

Chance of Making Roster: 95%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Wright keeps being a beast on special teams and finds a way to contribute on offense.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: He suddenly forgets how to cover punts and kicks.

Prediction: Wright will continue doing what he does on special teams and fight his way into a few offensive packages.

The Rest of the Guys:

Marcus Henry, #14 – The Jets 2008 sixth round pick. He has good size but you never hear about him making plays in practice. He has an uphill battle against Clowney and Wright for a roster spot because I doubt the Jets will keep 6 active receivers.

Paul Raymond, #2 – The speedster from Brown always seems to be in camp but never sticks on the roster, doubt this year will be any different.

Huey Whittaker, #18 – He has good size and made a few plays in OTAs. He might be guy to keep an eye on.

Britt Davis, #17 – An undrafted rookie from Northern Illinois.

Overall Position Analysis: I feel pretty confident that Cotchery, Stuckey, Smith, Clowney and Wright will be the Jets five active receivers. The real question is who is going to step up as the #2 guy? I think Stuckey will mostly be the guy, but receive a good amount of help from Clowney. I am not as confident in Brad Smith but again, I hope he proves me wrong.