While Gang Green had a promising draft with some exciting playmakers, one area of need was seemingly forgotten. Who is going to play right tackle? With all the talk of Tebow, the Wildcat and the new deep threat Stephen Hill the question of who is going to anchor the right side has remained unanswered. With the 203rd pick the Jets chose Robert T. Griffin out of a Baylor, a large frame with slow feet and subpar athleticism who may amount to nothing more than just a camp body. Waiting this long to draft such a hole in the offense has left many scratching their heads, for now, we can assess the current roster and what options and opportunities may present themselves.
The incumbent starter is Wayne Hunter, an NFL veteran who looked so promising in spot duty in 2010, but fizzled to one of the league’s worst in 2011. Hunters lack of ability setting the edge contributed significantly to the pressure Mark Sanchez faced on a weekly basis.
In 2011 Hunter had an uncanny ability of making average defensive lineman appear to be perennial all pro selections. His lack of quickness and agility also hurt the run game as an absence of a powerful first step often meant getting driven into the backfield or whiffing on a second level defender. This became even more evident on screen plays when hunter was asked to play in space, often looking lost with the inability to consistently deliver contact to defenders in the open field.
Hot on the heels of Hunter is Vladimir Ducasse, the sixty-first pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. Over the last two years Ducasse has shown zero ability to help justify his draft position, and is on his way to becoming one of the biggest draft mistakes in team history. Beat out for the left guard spot by 2009 6th rounder Matt Slauson, Ducasse has looked physically and mentally overwhelmed when on the field, often moving around aimlessly after the snap with no apparent direction. When he does find someone to block, the result has not been much better, often dropping his kick leg vertical to the line of scrimmage on passing plays opening the door to the defender.
With the supplied evidence I continue to question Duccasse’s conditioning, grasp of the Jets playbook and overall football IQ. Should the position fall to Duccasse, watch out Mark Sanchez, “Vlad the Impaler” will make his presence, and that of any defenders, very well known.
So what are the Jets to do? Matt Slauson has become a viable starter at left guard, and possibly one of the undrafted free agents may be able to step up and contribute. I liked John Cullen at Utah and if he can add some bulk and lower body strength he could end up winning the job over Hunter and Ducasse. The Jets also recently added two veteran 6’6’’ right tackles in Stephon Heyer and Ray Willis who can help push for time. There is also the possibility of trading for a tackle, but who would the Jets give up? Bart Scotts guaranteed contract makes him nearly untradeable so he is out of the equation.
One player who has trade value and a recently restructured contract is Mike Devito. Over the last three seasons Devito has become a solid interior defensive lineman, and with the addition of Coples he certainly looks to be losing playing time. What teams would be willing to trade a starting right tackle for a 2 down defensive lineman? Well most likely not many, although a package deal including Devito and a 4th round draft pick may make sense to a few teams. Damien Woody, where are you?