New York Jets – On Building And Keeping Depth

Joe Caporoso on the New York Jets building and keeping depth across their roster

The New York Jets have continued to aggressively add depth to their roster in the past week, signing Erin Henderson, Stevan Ridley, Joe Mays and bringing back Leger Douzable. The team has now added at least one veteran at every position this off-season, except outside linebacker/edge (a hint for the NFL Draft?). Depth is critical and something Jets fans shouldn’t be in a hurry to discard…

GM Mike Maccagnan has done a terrific job thus far of not just adding top tier talent (Darrelle Revis and Brandon Marshall) but fleshing out the roster with experienced backups. Look at inside linebacker as an example, last season the top backups were Nick Bellore and AJ Edds, a special teamer and an undrafted journeyman who have started zero games. The backups are now Erin Henderson, who started 33 games from 2011-2013 and recorded over 100 tackles in 2013, Joe Mays who started 13 games in 2013 with 60 tackles and Jamari Lattimore, who has started 9 games over the past two seasons while excelling on special teams. These are players capable of being spot starters if necessary and contributing in certain defensive packages. They are all also on one year deals, giving the Jets flexibility particularly with fellow inside linebacker Demario Davis entering the final year of his deal. Maybe Davis flourishes under Todd Bowles and gets a new contract, maybe he struggles, doesn’t get a new contract and Henderson or Mays starts in 2016.

After the Jets brought in Stevan Ridley this week, a player with a recent 1,200+ yard and 12 touchdown season on his resume there began to be questions about Chris Ivory. They are relatively similar players. Why sign Ridley? Should the Jets try to trade Ivory? The answers are depth and absolutely not. Ivory has been a very good player over two seasons for the Jets. He also has a concerning injury history, accentuated by his physical running style, just because he didn’t get hurt last year doesn’t mean that concern goes away. He is also a free agent after this season. If Ridley is healthy, he can be a productive running back. If he isn’t healthy, the Jets are not investing much and have other options to rely on in Ivory, Bilal Powell and a potential draft pick. The signing of Ridley doesn’t preclude the Jets from drafting a running back but it limits the urgency of it. The less positions you “have to” address draft weekend, the better.

The initial reaction to signing a player should not be, “well who needs to be cut or traded now?” Many Jets fans seem to be in a hurry to move on from Eric Decker or Brandon Marshall if the team drafts a receiver with the 6th overall pick. Why? Decker and Marshall are both very good football players. The Jets base formation on offense is likely to have three receivers on the field, you don’t need to plan to move on from a very good player just because you draft Amari Cooper or Kevin White. If the Jets draft a day two or day three receiver instead (which this writer would prefer), it doesn’t mean Jeremy Kerley’s days have to be numbered, it just means the Jets need four or five receivers they can rely on.

On the defensive line, the Jets can now have Stephen Bowen, Kevin Vickerson, Leger Douzable and TJ Barnes compete for reps and roster spots behind Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson and Damon Harrison. On the offensive line, players with experience simply aren’t going to make the roster, particularly if the Jets are aggressive NFL Draft weekend at the position. James Brewer, Corey Hilliard, Willie Colon, Brian Winters and Oday Aboushi have all started games and all won’t be able to make this team. At tight end, if the Jets prefer a true blocking option, they can now turn to Kellen Davis instead of miscasting Jeff Cumberland in that role.

Here is the Jets updated depth chart. It is refreshingly deep and we haven’t even hit the NFL Draft (could this be a more talented/deeper defense than 2010?). Followed by some GIFs of the team’s newest additions…

OFFENSE

  • LT: D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Ben Ijalana
  • LG: James Carpenter, Brian Winters, James Brewer, Wesley Johnson
  • C: Nick Mangold, Dalton Freeman
  • RG: Willie Colon, Oday Aboushi, Dakota Dozier
  • RT: Breno Giacomini, Corey Hilliard
  • Y TE: Jeff Cumberland, Kellen Davis, Chris Pantale
  • F TE: Jace Amaro, Zach Sudfeld
  • RB: Chris Ivory, Bilal Powell, Stevan Ridley
  • Slot: Jeremy Kerley, Chris Owusu, Saalim Hakim
  • X WR: Brandon Marshall, Quincy Enunwa, Shaq Evans
  • Z WR: Eric Decker, TJ Graham, Walter Powell
  • QB: Geno Smith, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Matt Simms

DEFENSE

    • LDE: Muhammad Wilkerson, Leger Douzable, Kevin Vickerson
    • NT: Damon Harrison, TJ Barnes
    • RDE: Sheldon Richardson, Stephen Bowen, Ronald Talley
    • ILB: David Harris, Erin Henderson, Chris Young
    • ILB: Demario Davis, Joe Mays, Jamari Lattimore
    • Edge: Quinton Coples, Calvin Pace, Jason Babin, IK Enemkpali, Trevor Reilly
    • CB: Darrelle Revis, Dee Milliner, Keith Lewis
    • CB: Antonio Cromartie, Darrin Walls, Dexter McDougle
    • Slot: Buster Skrine, Marcus Williams
    • SS: Calvin Pryor, Antonio Allen, Rontez Miles
    • FS: Marcus Gilchrist, Jaiquawn Jarrett

Author: Joe Caporoso

Joe Caporoso is the Owner and EIC of Turn On The Jets. His writing has been featured in the New York Times, Huffington Post, MMQB and AdWeek. Caporoso played football his entire life, including four years at Muhlenberg as a wide receiver, where he was arguably the slowest receiver to ever start in school history. He is the EVP of Content at Whistle Sports