TOJ’s Top 50 New York Jets Countdown: 30-40

Turn On The Jets counts down the top 50 New York Jets currently on the roster, continuing today with numbers 30-40

Frustrated and confused after seeing the NFL’s Top 100 player list? TOJ was as well. Due to that, we have decided to rank the current New York Jets on the roster from 50 all the way down to 1. Along the way, we will be classifying the players into the following five categories:

  • Bottom of the Roster (strictly a depth and developmental player)
  • Middle Class (Situational player, spot starter)
  • Quality Starter (Capable starting player or very good role player)
  • Red Chip (Swiping this term from Michael Lombardi, an above average stater/borderline Pro-Bowler)
  • Blue Chip (Another swipe from Lombardi, an elite player at his position)

(STILL IN THE BOTTOM OF THE ROSTER CATEGORY)

39. Jeff Cumberland, Tight End – Currently projects as the team’s backup tight end. Cumberland is a taller, slower version of Dustin Keller which isn’t good for a team who wants to run the football as often as the Jets do. He does have potential to be a weapon in the red-zone and in certain packages, however it wouldn’t be surprising if the Jets signed a blocking tight end before camp which would bump him down the depth chart.

38. Stephon Heyer, Offensive Tackle – A six year veteran with a good amount of experience. He started 16 games for the Redskins in 2009 and started 2 games last year for Oakland. He projects as the top backup at tackle and could push for playing time if Wayne Hunter struggles in camp.

37. Martin Tevaseu, Defensive Tackle – He has bounced between the Jets practice squad and active roster over the past couple of seasons. Last year he outplayed rookie third-round pick Kenrick Ellis and leaped him in the defensive line rotation.

36. Kenrick Ellis, Defensive Tackle – Putting him over Tevaseu based on his potential, which he will hopefully begin to recognize this year after his first full off-season as a professional. Ellis is currently serving a jail sentence but it was split so he won’t miss any training camp. The Jets are hoping he can develop into a big part of the defensive line rotation in 2012 and be Sione Pouha’s long term replacement.

35. Josh Mauga, Linebacker – Worked himself into a good amount of playing time last season at both inside and outside linebacker, finishing with 25 tackles, 1 TFL and 1 interception. This year he projects to being more of a special teams player but could see action in certain packages due to his pass coverage ability from the linebacker position.

34. Patrick Turner, Wide Receiver – Saw his most extensive playing time as a professional in 2011, finishing with 8 receptions for 96 yards and a touchdown. Turner has good size and chemistry with Mark Sanchez from their time together at USC. He also can contribute on special teams. Turner is the current favorite to be the team’s fifth wide receiver.

MIDDLE CLASS

33. Marcus Dixon, Defensive Lineman – Dixon was a solid, reliable part of the team’s defensive line rotation last year and stepped in to start a few games for an injured Mike DeVito. He finished with 16 tackles, 1.5 sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Dixon can line up at both defensive end and tackle, increasing his value. In 2012, he should remain a key part of the defensive line rotation.

32. Chaz Schilens, Wide Receiver – Signed as a free agent from the Oakland Raiders this off-season, Schilens has all the desired measurables for a wide receiver at 6’4, 225 pounds and with a 4.3 forty. However, he has been unable to stay consistently healthy throughout his four year career. In those four seasons he has racked up 72 receptions for 902 yards and 7 touchdowns. Schilens was one of the most impressive players in the Jets off-season workouts and could carve himself out a nice sized role on offense if he keeps performing.

31. Josh Brown, Kicker – Working off the assumption that he will be out Nick Folk this summer. Brown has been a very good kicker at times throughout his career but is coming off a somewhat disappointing year with the Rams. He is a career 80.9 percent kicker with a long of 58 yards.

30. Demario Davis, Linebacker – The rookie third round linebacker is generating a ton of buzz this off-season as the steal of the Jets draft class. Teammates and coaches have been raving about his natural leadership skills, speed and tenacity. At a minimum, Davis will play in the Jets sub-packages and be a major factor on special teams. He will also take over for Bart Scott alongside David Harris at inside linebacker, no later than the beginning of next season.

Check back later for the 12 Pack and on Monday for numbers 20-30

Can Kenrick Ellis Finally Move On Following His Legal Resolution?

Yesterday, New York Jets defensive lineman, and former 3rd round pick, Kenrick Ellis pleaded guilty to assault and battery charges that have been stemming from a 2010 incident at Ellis’s former place of education, Hampton University. According to his attorney, Ellis will likely serve 45 days in a Virginia prison beginning on June 15th of this year, which will cause him to miss the opening days of training camp. Although this legal issue is unfortunately going to cost him some training and practice time, the resolution to this case could be just what Ellis needs to finally propel his NFL career and fulfill his vast potential.

Coming out of John I. Leonard High School in Lake Worth, Florida, Ellis was regarded as a 4 star prospect, according to scout.com, and was widely considered to be the best defensive tackle prospect from the Lake Worth area since Patriots All-Pro Vince Wilfork. In his final two seasons in high school, Ellis tallied 139 tackles and 24 sacks, while earning scholarship offers from Rutgers, Tennessee, South Carolina, Michigan, Michigan State, and North Carolina.

After finally deciding to become a member of the Gamecocks, Ellis redshirted his freshman season, before recording 11 tackles the following year. With a promising collegiate career seeming inevitable, Ellis was unfortunately reprimanded for repeated violations of both university and team policies, and transferred to Hampton University in Virginia. In his final two seasons as a Pirate, Ellis recorded an amazing 30 tackles for loss, which, considering his immense size (6’5” 346 lbs) is tremendous.

With Ellis having the legal case lingering over him heading into the NFL Draft, he dropped to the 3rd round, despite his great potential, where he was eventually selected by the Jets with the 94th overall pick. Since becoming a member of the green and white, Ellis, who is a native of Jamaica, has constantly had fears of jail time and even the possibility of deportation hanging over his head. The resolution to this case that has been pending for nearly two years should finally give Ellis some closure, and allow him to move on with his NFL career, without being weighed down by his troubled past.

Once he is released from prison, presumably in late July/early August, Ellis will surely be around the right guys to ensure his character develops where it needs to be in order for him to accentuate his abilities as a player. Fellow Jets Defensive Lineman Marcus Dixon is no stranger to legal trouble. In 2003, Dixon, coincidentally a fellow Hampton University Alumni, was found guilty of statutory rape in Georgia and was sentenced to a maximum of 10 years in prison. After serving about a year of his sentence, the supreme court overturned the case, and Dixon was released and able to continue his NFL career. If there is anyone fitted to mentor Ellis on leaving his troubled past behind him, while focusing on moving forward, it is certainly Marcus Dixon.

Ellis’s situation is surely not the first case of an NFL player having to serve jail time in between seasons. In 2009, the Giants’ Ahmad Bradshaw served 31 days in prison to complete a 60-day sentence he faced as a result of a petty larceny charge he attained while attending the University of Marshall in 2006. Similar to Ellis, Bradshaw began his collegiate career at the larger University of Virginia, but was dismissed following an underage drinking arrest in 2004. In the three seasons since serving his jail sentence, Bradshaw has rushed for 2,672 yards and 24 touchdowns, while playing a vital role in the Giants’ most recent Super Bowl run. The Jets would be ecstatic to see Ellis provide a similar level of production following the resolution to his legal troubles.

The key for Ellis’s success will be his ability to buy into the workman’s mentality that is prevalent on the Jets’ Defensive Line. Led by current Nose Tackle Sione Pouha, Ellis has an excellent veteran mentor to learn from in terms of play, character, work ethic, and leadership. Combine that with the constant exposure he will have to blue collar guys like Dixon, Mike DeVito, and Mohammed Wilkerson, and Ellis should have no problem developing into the player the Jets envisioned him to be when they selected him in last year’s draft. Physically, the potential is sky high. Now, Ellis must prove that he can be mature enough to handle the responsibilities of an NFL player and teammate.

New York Jets Training Camp: Wilkerson Named Starter; Right Decision?

For the second year in a row, Rex Ryan has handed his first round draft pick a starting position before football activities truly get under way. Last year he named Kyle Wilson his nickel back and punt returner, this year he has named Muhammad Wilkerson his starting defensive end. We know things didn’t work out too well for Wilson last year, so why did Ryan choose the same route this year?

The Jets are still in negotiations to bring veteran defensive end Shaun Ellis back. Even though Ryan backtracked somewhat and said he would have Ellis start in name so he could keep his streak of starts going with the franchise, but still have Wilkerson take the bulk of the reps, why would Ellis come back under those terms? He is still a productive player, who dominated the New England Patriots in the playoffs last year and now might look to bolt to one of the Jets rivals to stick it to Ryan or the Jets front office if they can’t come to an agreement.

I understand the Jets want production out of their first round pick but there is no reason to hand him the job, even if you plan on starting him regardless. Without Ellis in camp, at least say he has to battle veterans Ropati Pitoitua and Marcus Dixon for reps to push the most out of him. Personally, I still think it would be smart to bring Ellis or maybe Trevor Pryce back to mentor Wilkerson and allow him to ease his way into the starting line-up. Let him start out working primarily on pass rushing downs and then gradually work into being an every down player.

I love Rex Ryan’s bravado and confidence in his draft pick, but let the guy take a few snaps before naming him a starter and simultaneously pushing away a well-respected veteran who will end up in the franchise’s Ring of Honor one day.

What Role Players Will Step Up For Jets In 2011?

I have decided that if I write enough of articles about the 2011 season, it actually has to happen, right?

Let’s take a look at a few role players for the Jets, who should have the opportunity to take on a bigger role in 2011 than they had in 2010.

Marquice Cole – A reserve corner who has carved out a small role in some of the Jets nickel and dime packages. He has played well in his limited duty on both defense and special teams. Antonio Cromartie and Drew Coleman are both free agents and Dwight Lowery could be seeing more time at safety, which should lead to more reps for Cole.

Jamaal Westerman – An undrafted free agent before the 2009 season who impressed his rookie year in a limited role on defense but had a disappointing second year. Westerman dealt with a few injuries and frequently ended up on the inactive list. He has shown an ability to rush the quarterback in pre-season and did have a sack in 2009 against Houston. The Jets are thin at both inside and outside linebacker. Westerman is versatile enough to play both, and could see a bigger role in a few defensive packages this year.

Ropati Pitoitua – At 6 foot 8, 315 pounds you can understand why the coaching staff is excited about Pitoitua’s potential. Unfortunately, he missed the entire 2010 season with a pre-season Achilles injury after occasionally working his way into the defensive line rotation in 2009. Pitoitua should be a prominent part of their rotation this season if he recovers well from his injury.

Marcus Dixon – Another defensive lineman who the coaching staff appears to be high on. Dixon worked his way into the rotation late last season and recorded a sack against the Chicago Bears. Mike Tannenbaum has mentioned him potentially moving down to defensive tackle. Whether it is at end or tackle, Dixon will have a good chance to get some reps on the defensive line rotation this year.

Jeff Cumberland – The Jets held on to Cumberland as a backup tight end all of last season without making him active until their meaningless week 17 game. They are obviously intrigued by what he can bring to the offense. He looked good as a pass catching threat in the pre-season and has good size. Cumberland might be able to contribute near the red-zone and in certain formations, especially if the Jets lose a couple of receivers in free agency.

Patrick Turner – A receiver with some height, who has a history with Mark Sanchez at USC. Turner was on the active roster for a few games last season and recorded a couple of receptions. He will now be competing with rookies Jeremy Kerley and Scotty McKnight for reps behind whomever the Jets starting receivers end up being.

Joe McKnight – There has been no shortage of words written on McKnight this off-season but hopefully he is ready to reach his potential in year two and become a contributor on the Jets offense.

Concern About The Jets Front Seven

And now back to football…

Appropriately there is a general consensus that the New York Jets need to improve their defensive front seven this off-season, which has been spearheaded by most mock drafts pairing them with a defensive lineman or outside linebacker.

At defensive line and linebacker, the Jets are a little bit old and a little bit slow. Outside of David Harris, all three starting linebackers are over 30 and none (including Harris) have great speed. On the defensive line, Sione Pouhaand Shaun Ellis (if he returns) are both into their 30’s and if you saw Mike DeVito trying to cover Danny Woodhead last year, you know he didn’t run track in high school or college.

The depth isn’t great at either position, Jamaal Westerman and Josh Mauga don’t project as future starters at linebacker. On the line, Marcus Dixon, Ropati Pitoitua, and Matt Kroul have potential but still a long way to go to prove they deserve regular spots in the rotation.

Where will the help come from? At a minimum, the Jets need a long term replacement for Bryan Thomas at outside linebacker, a defensive end to replace Shaun Ellis (even if he ends up coming back), and another interior lineman to boost the rotation and maybe eventually take over for Pouha.

The draft could only solve so much, especially with the Jets missing a second round pick. Hopefully, Mike Tannenbaum’s first round pick can contribute immediately and he finds another later round prospect or two that contribute at defensive line or linebacker. The Jets will likely be handcuffed in signing new players in free agency, as they will be limited by the same “Final Eight” rules they were last year, if an injunction is granted as expected on April 6th.

In reality, it is going to take multiple off-seasons to get the defensive front seven where it needs to be. The Jets can take a big step in the right direction this year by having a strong draft, hoping a few of their developmental players (Dixon, Pitoitua) contribute, and maybe swinging a deal or two via free agency or trade.

New York Jets Recent Cuts Open Up New Opportunities

There have been varying emotions on the New York Jets recent round of cuts. A mix of joy and disgust as the Vernon Gholston disaster finally came to an end, sadness at seeing respected veterans like Kris Jenkins and Damien Woody go, amusement at Jason Taylor now only wanting to continue his career with the Jets, a team he once despised as much as we despised him, and indifference over Ben Hartsock (sorry #84). Regardless, all of these moves are going to open up new opportunities for other players on the roster and will affect strategy in April’s draft.

Woody – The Jets are expected to have veteran Wayne Hunter and second year lineman Vladimir Ducasse battle for his old spot. For Ducasse, this a make or break battle. The Jets are going to have to admit they may have missed in last year’s second round if Ducasse begins his NFL career by losing consecutive battles to Matt Slauson and Hunter. Towards the end of last season, Hunter showed he could be adequate as a starter but  I am sure the coaching staff is hopeful Ducasse will seize the position and be the long term answer at right tackle.

Jenkins – There is still a good chance Jenkins will come back at a reduced price. Regardless, this just means embracing Sione Pouha as the quality starter he has shown himself to be. It also means the Jets will have to look defensive line early in the draft, as we expected them to anyway.

Gholston – He didn’t play enough to shake up anything on the roster. The coaching staff does seem high on Marcus Dixon at defensive end and Ropati Pitoitua is returning from injury. Expect both players to get a shot at becoming large parts of the defensive line rotation in 2011.

Taylor – He has expressed an interest in returning to the Jets at a reduced price. I have a hard time seeing that happening as the Jets will likely look to get younger at linebacker and defensive end (where Taylor frequently lined up) in the draft. Jamaal Westerman might be a guy who gets more of a shot now that Taylor is gone. Westerman showed some potential in 2009 but wasn’t given much of a chance last season…until he roughed the punter against Pittsburgh in the AFC Championship Game.

Hartsock – The Jets decided to keep Jeff Cumberland on the roster all of the last season, despite only making him active once in week 17. He showed potential as a pass catcher in the pre-season and clearly the Jets think he can become a bigger part of the offense, which he may need to if Braylon Edwards and Brad Smith don’t return. In terms of blocking, Matthew Mulligan should be able to step into that role as he received occasional reps in run heavy sets last season.

Check Out Hartsock’s Lone Touchdown as a New York Jet at 1:05…and his incredibly lame celebration

New York Jets Release Damien Woody, Kris Jenkins, Jason Taylor, Vernon Gholston

It is being reported the Jets have released right tackle Damien Woody, nose tackle Kris Jenkins, outside linebacker Jason Taylor, and defensive lineman Vernon Gholston. Quick thoughts….

Damien Woody – The biggest loss out of these four. Woody gave the Jets three quality years at right tackle and was a leader on the offense. He struggled with injuries towards the end of last season and the Jets managed to get by with backup Wayne Hunter filling in. Hunter (who is a free agent) will likely be re-signed and compete with second year lineman Vladimir Ducasse for Woody’s old job. Ducasse was recently moved to right tackle after losing out on the chance to start at guard in his rookie year. Similar to when the Jets released Alan Faneca last year, they will be taking a risk that a younger player on the roster can become an adequate replacement. They guessed right last year, let’s hope they do it again.

Kris Jenkins – Jenkins was a beast for the Jets in 2008 but suffered a season ending injury early in the 2009 season, and then after extensive rehab had another season ending injury in the first quarter of the 2010 season. He has claimed he wants to continue his career and is in the middle of another rehab. The Jets simply owed him too much money to bring back under his current contract. I would guess there is a good chance he is brought back if he agrees to a cheaper deal down the road. If not, Sione Pouha has been very good filling in for him the past two years, however the Jets still need to address their defensive line in this year’s draft.

Jason Taylor – The Jets took a shot with Taylor when it became clear the Miami Dolphins weren’t interested in bringing him back before the 2010 season. He was decent as a rotational player in their defense last year, finishing with 36 tackles, 5 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles. This team still needs to find a long term answer for their pass rush at the outside linebacker position.

Vernon Gholston – The bust of busts. A guy who wowed at the combine and was drafted with the #6 overall pick to sack the quarterback, yet never registered a single sack in three seasons with the team. Goodbye Vernon.

Moving up the depth chart —

  • RT Wayne Hunter (when he is re-signed)
  • RT Vladimir Ducasse
  • OLB Jamaal Westerman
  • DL Marcus Dixon
  • DL Ropati Pitoitua
  • DL Jarron Gilbert

This also increases the Jets need to draft two to three players for their defensive front seven.

Don’t Forget How Dominant Jenkins Could Be

12 Pack of Jets Off-Season Thoughts – Edition #1

We can’t just stop the 12 pack because the Jets decided to only play one half in the AFC Championship Game. On to edition #1 of the off-season 12 pack, but not before a friendly reminder to follow Turn On The Jets on Facebook and Twitter (@TurnOnTheJets)…check out that new Twitter bar on the side of the home page, not bad right? A special thanks to Will Horton who migrated TOJ off the Fanball server and on to our new one.

1. The Running Backs – I am certainly not against LaDainian Tomlinson coming back for another year with the New York Jets. He is a valuable outlet for Mark Sanchez and provides necessary leadership on the offensive side of the football. However, the Jets have to be careful to not let him stunt the growth of Joe McKnight and especially Shonn Greene. Due to Tomlinson’s strong start, Greene never really received the chance to develop into the number one back we all envisioned him as. Down the stretch when he started to play better, he still wasn’t getting enough carries because Tomlinson maintained a big role in the offense.

Joe McKnight wasn’t ready to contribute this past season but did show signs of hope towards the end of the year. The coaching staff apparently loves his skill set and the only way to see if he can become a part of this offense is to give him a chance. If Tomlinson returns, it needs to be in a reduced role that allows Greene to get 17-20 carries a game and McKnight to get 7-9 offensive touches himself at running back and receiver. The future of this backfield is Greene, McKnight, and John Conner at fullback and the future should start in 2011.

2. The Mark Sanchez Question – I am still amazed at how hesitant some people are to give Sanchez credit for the type of season he put together in 2010. There is no question he struggles with inaccuracy at times and hits stretches of inconsistency, however on the whole he threw 5 more touchdowns and 7 less interceptions, along with over 800 more yards than he did his rookie year. He took major strides forward in his second year as a starting quarterback and is developing into one of the best quarterbacks in the league at avoiding the pass rush and making a play outside of the pocket. Most importantly, he has the necessary intangibles to be a leader of a team and consistently plays well in big spots. The guy has four road playoff victories in his first two years and has a bright future as the Jets offense becomes more aggressive.

3. Changing Faces – Marcus Dixon, Marquice Cole and James Ihedigbo are three role players who I expect to see more playing time on defense in 2011. They all showed potential in limited reps and with at least a few defensive backs and defensive lineman leaving as free agents or being released, should get an opportunity to create bigger roles for themselves.

4. Bye, Vernon – Mike Tannenbaum made it pretty clear today that we shouldn’t expect to see Vernon Gholston back in 2011. Why would the team even bother at this point? Three seasons, zero sacks, and limitless hype and “Gholston is finally getting it” stories…it is time to move on.

5. Let’s Not Repeat – Let’s face the reality that Kyle Wilson showed signs of being a bust in his rookie year. He seemed overwhelmed by the NFL game and was out-played by Drew Coleman and Dwight Lowery all season. Wilson will be given every opportunity to be at least the nickel back if not the starter opposite Darrelle Revis (if Antonio Cromartie leaves) and he needs to take advantage of it. Hopefully, he will learn from his rookie mistakes instead of losing confidence from his struggles.

6. Scary Stats Part 1 – Bart Scott has 2 sacks and 1 forced fumble in two seasons with the Jets. Drew Coleman had 4 sacks and 5 forced fumbles this season for the Jets…Bryan Thomas had less than 40 total tackles this season despite starting every game at outside linebacker…Dwight Lowery had the same amount of regular season touchdowns this season as Shonn Greene.

7. Preparing For Life Without Brad – We all want him back and we all know how valuable he is, but I have hard time seeing the Jets pay Brad Smith, Josh Cribbs type money in a year they have to pay David Harris, Antonio Cromartie, and Santonio Holmes. Joe McKnight needs to pick up the slack on kick return and as an option running the football. Patrick Turner can help fill the void at receiver and will get more playing time any way with Braylon Edwards likely leaving.

8. To Shaun Ellis and Mike Tannenbaum – Let’s have cooler heads prevail this off-season and work something out. Nobody wants to see Ellis finish his career in a different color jersey than Green and White and he would be a great mentor to whatever young defensive lineman the Jets draft this year.

9. Already Excited – New York’s current JV team (the Giants) at New York’s finest this season…you know that game has Monday or Sunday night football written all over it.

10. Plax and Aso – There has been plenty of chatter about both Plaxico Burress and Nnamdi Asomugha joining the Jets this year. However, I would say there is less than a ten percent chance of either happening. Asomugha is only coming here if he agrees to take much less than he is worth, which I doubt he will do. I could see the Jets exploring Burress but I’d be surprised to see them add another sideshow especially since there is no guarantee he’d be anywhere near the player he once was considering his time off.

11. Anybody Else – Been spending time wondering what would have happened if Ben Roethlisberger didn’t complete that third and six pass to Antonio Brown?

12. Video Therapy (Wide Receiver Edition) —

Enjoy your weekend…