As of today, there are a number of unknowns going into the 2013 season. I will leave alone the obvious “who will be the starting quarterback” discussion, and move on to the other starting spots. Since the draft and free agency there are 10 linemen competing for 5 starting spots. Nick Mangold, D’Brickashaw Ferguson, and Austin Howard are the known quantities, but the two starting guard spots are up for grabs. For those two spots there are currently four players, Willie Colon, Stephen Peterman, Vladamir Ducasse, and Brian Winters. Furthermore, going into the utility guy mix, you have Caleb Schlauderaff, and the two rookies vying for a roster spot in Oday Aboushi and William Campbell. The good news is that there are players to fill spots, and some have a lot of experience, while others are very athletic. All in all the offensive line should be an improvement in 2013 over last season. While it’s obvious a team can’t carry 10 offensive lineman, Campbell could be an invaluable practice squad addition in a year’s time, and if Winters can produce early either Colon or Peterman could be obsolete.
Now the real question is what is going on at free safety, tight end, and wide receiver? Who are the Jets starting players at those positions? Free safety currently boasts last year’s 5th rounder Josh Bush, and Philadelphia 2nd round flame-out Jaiquawn Jarrett. Throw in a couple of rookie free agents and you get the idea. Who is starting material? It’s not that either Bush or Jarrett are bad, as much as they are unproven.
Add to this the quandary of the starting opposite receiver to Santonio Holmes. Jeremy Kerley proved to be an excellent target out of the slot, but not a guy that will produce as much on the outside. Braylon Edwards came in and did an excellent job, better than Plaxico Burress the season before.
Last but not least is the trio of Dustin Keller replacements. Jeff Cumberland the converted WR, Konrad Reuland the blocking tight end, and Hayden Smith the unknown are the guys expected to compete for the top spot. Add these all up, and you have 2 important positions missing a clear-cut answer in that QB/WR/RB triad that all good offenses need to have. The QB part I won’t address, but the others I can make guesses at.
Wide receiver, according to reports might stay in-house. The Jets have interest in retaining Braylon Edwards, and Edwards has interest in remaining with the team. Why haven’t they come to an agreement yet? The longer Edwards sits on the market, the lower the price they can sign him for. It’s time to give up on the Josh Cribbs of the world, and get the proven player. Edwards deserves at least a 2 year 5 million deal if he would accept it. His value has diminished enough that he should. A receiving corps of Edwards, Holmes, Kerley, and Hill gives the Jets versatility. It has 4 guys that cover anything you want to do in slot receivers, vertical threats, red zone threats, route runners, and possession receivers. The 5th receiver spot can be fought for between the fringe players like Jordan White and Clyde Gates. While some might not think this is a top receiving group, it would allow the top 4 to play in 4 wide sets, and be put in positions to make plays.
Tight end might miss Dustin Keller, but not as much as you might initially think. Konrad Reuland to me showed the most promise of being a great blocker primarily, and a last check down option in the passing game. While not a burner, he caught pretty much everything thrown his way. Hayden Smith is the dark horse, because most of his praise was saved for practice field where he was said to have given defenses a hard time.
This brings me to the last spot on the team, the free safety. With Dawan Landry manning the SS spot, there are some options still available out there at free safety. Josh Bush is not ready to handle this full-time, and Jarrett wasn’t good enough in Philly to be expected to start in New York. I just read an article on ProSportsTalk where a still unsigned Charles Woodson was lowering his demands for playing for a playoff team. Woodson in his 15th season is a hall of fame, and stillgreat player. He was moved back and forth from corner to FS by Green Bay, and did very well. I like the idea of signing a hall of fame defensive back after trading one away. Woodson deserves a two-year deal to finish his career in New York. If you look at total production, he started the full season in 2011. He produced 75 tackles, 2 sacks, 7 INT’s, and 16 passes broken up. A signing of Woodson would be a win win for both sides. Finishing a great career for a great team back on the rise, while mentoring Josh Bush could be the icing on the John Idzik year one cake.