New York Jets Post Draft Depth Chart: Defense & Special Teams

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Feb 20, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; New York Jets coach Rex Ryan speaks during a press conference during the 2014 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

This is part 2 of the roster evaluation, you can read the 1st part featuring the offense here. Today we’ll look at defense and special teams. Although most of the resources have been spent on the offensive side of the ball, there are some new faces to the squad on defense and special teams. Let’s see what the post draft depth charts look like compared to last year. Defense Defensive Line – 2013 starters Muhammad Wilkerson, Damon Harrison, Sheldon Richardson key reserves Kenrick Ellis, Leger Douzable. 2014 Exactly the same - The Jets defensive line was the standout unit of the whole team in 2013 so it is no surprise that they decided to keep the young unit together and let it grow under coach Karl Dunbar. 16.5 of the team’s 41 sacks came from the defensive line led by Muhammad Wilkerson‘s 10.5. Tackles for loss were also a big area of strength as the team had 52 compared to opponents having 33. The defensive line had 29 led by Defensive Rookie of the Year Sheldon Richardson‘s 12. The unit seems thin on depth but does not take into consideration that Antwan Barnes, Calvin Pace, Quinton Coples played defensive end in some formations last season with Coples also sliding in at defensive tackle all the way from outside linebacker.

Advantage: None although growth from the younger players is expected

Inside Linebacker – 2013 starters David Harris, Demario Davis key reserves Nick Bellore  2014 starters Harris, Davis key reserves Jeremiah George, Nick Bellore, Steele Divitto - Harris and Davis are both 3 down linebackers for the Jets or at least they were last year. They combined for 231 tackles, 3 sacks, and 13 tackles for loss. The problems were that Davis looked lost in coverage for the most part and while Harris started the season improving his coverage skills, he tired by season’s end because there was no depth at the position. Nick Bellore is a special teams ace who is a key player for the Jets but he is not good enough to be out on defensive. For 2014, the team addressed the position by adding Jeremiah George in the 5th round of the draft and Steele Devitto as an undrafted free agent. George is an undersized player at 5’11 235 lbs. who ran a 4.65 forty yard dash at his pro day and lifted 30 reps on the bench press. George led the Big 12 in tackles at Iowa State with 133 tackles (4th in nation), 12 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and 2 interceptions. He has the skills to do well in coverage but his issues include getting off of blocks, speed in open space is average, as well as patience, discipline and anticipation. George plays all out as CBSSports.com says “plays like his hair is on fire”. George will be a huge help on special teams but is a project at inside linebacker. Divitto is a player long on intelligence, strength and desire and short on athleticism.

Advantage: None Davis will probably improve but Harris is starting to deteriorate at 30 and there is no depth you can count on

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Tags: 2014 New York Jets Defense Featured Muhammad Wilkerson Popular

  • Paul Newbold

    So, as I see it, and you seem to agree, they did little to improve their defense. You noted “No Advantage” on the defensive line, LB corp, and special teams. Somehow you think out CB’s are better, but I’ll have to see that to believe it, as I think they are not improved at all, and actually may be worse off. Pryor will be a nice addition to the Safety unit, but the rest of the bunch remain questionable. Allen has improved, but he isn’t a top safety, Landry another year older, and barely adequate, and Bush which seemingly can’t man the position. Not much improvement for a secondary that was so badly abused last season!

  • Craig Hoffman

    Paul, when I put no advantage on the defensive line that wasn’t a bad thing because they kept the young unit together. Young players, especially talented ones, continue to grow and evolve in their early years and that is an improvement. I put no advantage because there were no changes nor should there have been. Getting Douzable back is huge. As for special teams the unit is a whole is an upgrade. The backup corners and linebackers they have drafted all have special teams experience and the team’s depth will allow for better coverage teams. Saunders over Kerley is a huge upgrade as a punt return and retaining Folk was a good idea. The safeties get better because of Pryor. Having Pryor reduces Landry’s role and lets Allen focus on having a defined role. I think they should have prioritized corner and outside linebacker sooner with a corner before the draft and an OLB higher in the draft. Hopefully, they can still trade for a Brandon Flowers or Johnathan Joseph. The allocated resources went to the offense this year and rightly so. The key for the defense is growth and development which is more important than acquiring new players in this situation. The team had 6 or 7 new starters on D last year all of whom now have a year of experience under their belt.

    • RONBO19

      Craig, you were doing fine until near the end where you mentioned Idzik as having anything to do with developing Seattle’s secondary? Idzik as the company bean counter may have been involved with their contracts, but from everything I’ve read he had absolutely nothing to do with personnel decisions. I agree with Paul that the secondary will be the teams weak link. As you mentioned, Izzy’s failure to address those holes will prove problematic as teams can throw short quick passes against this group which could lead to long exhausting drives that negate the teams front 7 strength. Obviously it’s way too early to know if we hired the right GM last year or not from his limited body of work I do have to question who so many people are so willing to anoint him as the second coming of Gil Brandt?

      • Craig Hoffman

        He helped build rosters in Seattle, Arizona and Tampa Bay that ended up in the Superbowl and that is a fact. He was on the road scouting for the Seahawks during his time there in addition to his other duties and started in player personnel while in Tampa Bay. While I’m not saying he is a top GM in the league, I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt until he proves otherwise.

        • RONBO19

          I don’t know where you are getting that information as NO ONE else has, or is saying that including the most die hard Jet fans and writers on the SNY jets blog? Obviously if you can document that i will offer my sincerest apologies and congratulations for your excellent reporting. As a life long Jet fan and 35 year season ticket holder I have followed this team very closely and the closest thing to actual player evaluation i have seen on Izzy is that near the end in Seattle he requested and was granted permission to attend the 2012 Sr.Bowl and perhaps a few other games? But everything i read else where says he was not involved in player eval’s elsewhere.

          • Craig Hoffman

            “Prior to joining the Seahawks, Idzik spent three seasons as Senior Director of Football Operations for the Arizona Cardinals, helping to build an eventual NFC champion. Idzik entered the NFL in 1993 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He spent 11 years with the Buccaneers, first as a Pro Personnel Assistant and then was elevated to Director of Football Administration in 1996 and Assistant General Manager in 2001.” From Seahawks bio in 2013.

            “Cardinals general manager Steve Keim, who has been with the organization since 1999, said Idzik’s background offers a unique perspective for his new job.

            “John is a guy that I have a great deal of respect for,” Keim said. “Coming up through the scouting department, John was always thought of in many league circles as a money guy, as a salary-cap guru. That, to me, is the farthest thing from the truth. John’s dad was a successful NFL coach so John’s been around it since he was a child. The first impression John made on me was that he isn’t just a money guy, but when I say that he does have a tremendous amount of knowledge when it comes to the salary cap, business in general.” From Newsday article “Jets GM John Idzik is meticulous and highly respected” 4/21/13 by Bob Glauber

            “Idzik spent many nights in Tampa watching film and taking notes on prospects after completing his daytime administrative duties. He continued that practice when he became the Cardinals’ senior director of football operations in 2004.” New York Times Article “John Idzik, Jets’ New General Manager, Known for Steady Approach” 4/24/13 by Ben Shpigel Articled noted that Idzik was the one who banged the table for the trade up for Warrick Dunn. Also helped draft Derrick Brooks and Ronde Barber (in the 3rd round).

            The Seahawks, of late…had sent him on the road scouting players as well, and from what I gather, Idzik was party to a good amount of coaching staff/scouting staff meetings and film sessions. Field Gulls (Seahawks blog) article “John Idzik hired as New York Jets’ GM” Tagline “The Seahawks lose a key member of their front office” January 18, 2013 by Danny Kelly

            All of these articles prove that he has scouting experience, was part of the decision-making process and had a voice in the room while helping to build those 3 teams.

          • RONBO19

            Craig, Nice try but according to a close friend of mine who also happens to be the GM of an NFL team Most of the titles you mentioned are basically fancy titles for “salary cap Mgr. The Pro player Personnel Director basically keeps tabs on every player on every team including guys that are cut,on injured reserve, practice squad or guys like Oday Oboushi and Will Campbell who are technically on the 53 man roster all last year but never got into or even dressed for a game.The Dir. of Football Administration is basically another desk job dealing with contracts. The Assistant G.M is the cap guy plain & simple which is the title Tannenbaum had with us before Woody replaced former G.M Terry Bradway with him in 2006.Izzy had the same job with a different title in Arizona and again with Seattle. Hey, i’m sure the guy may have scouted a few players or games but in no way does that make him a great talent elevator.Based on his first two drafts where many of his choices were heavily debated i still get the feeling Izzy is trying to convince the media, the owner and the fan base he is a screwed talent elevator as many of his picks went against the grain of what was being projected by noted analysts like Gil Brandt,Bill Polian,Daniel Jeremyah and Mike Mayock. Not to say that their word is gospel but they do have more access to the players and the films then any of us amateurs.

          • Craig Hoffman

            Another quote from the Shpigel article

            “At the time, Idzik was Tampa Bays’ coordinator of football administration, but his thoughts were solicited throughout the process and during the draft. Like his colleagues, Idzik ignored concerns about Dunn’s durability and size — 5 feet 8 inches, 176 pounds — and instead prized his outstanding college career and strong character. On the morning of the draft, Idzik advocated trading up to select Dunn, said Rich McKay, the Buccaneers’ general manager at the time.

            “John was very good at making quick decisions, because he had always done so much work in advance,” said McKay, now the Atlanta Falcons’ general manager.”

            This illustrates that Idzik does have experience breaking down prospects and that his voice is heard in the room and he is a part of the team building process. I never said he was a “great” talent evaluator but drafts need time to develop before grading. His work with 3 franchises that needed total rebuilds got it and went to Super Bowls. It is nonsensical to say that he had no part in building those teams from a personnel perspective and dismiss him as a cap guy.

            Experts are often wrong. The Seahawks drafts have been panned initially especially 2011 and 2012 where they got no higher than a C+ in 2011 and a D- from Mel Kiper for 2012. In 2011 they drafted Richard Sherman, Byron Maxwell and Malcolm Smith and in 2012 they got Bruce Irvin, Bobby Wagner Jr. , Russell Wilson and Robert Turbin.

          • RONBO19

            Craig, for every quote you want to post I can come up with a retort. As a Jet fan, quite frankly, I hope you prove to be correct. While I love to come here and debate with fellow Jet fans and those who write about them the one thing i like more than anything is winning! so, although I think these discussions are great, I still believe based on what I’ve seen from his first two drafts and his inability to adequately address the corner position during this years free agency period I am not as impressed as you apparently are. While I agree it’s too early to finalize any grades on either of his two drafts I cant get the thought out of my head that Izzy is trying to re-invent the wheel as some of his selections in both drafts were complete head-snatcher’s to say the least.
            Again, time will tell but I so far i am not impressed.

          • Frank Antonelli

            Wow, we’re going to try and go the route of close friend. You’ve exposed yourself as a douche and probably a troll.

            P.S. Idzik takes more scouting trips than any other GM and he was among the first to spot Pryor. It’s becoming obvious you hate the Jets, move along to another site that will welcome your type of hatred.

          • RONBO19

            Come on Frank, name calling? Really? Look my man, I’m not gonna go there but let me just say this; i love my jets and my 35 years as a season ticket holder definitely gives me the right to voice my opinion. As much as i enjoy a good back & forth i always try to remember to keep it civil. besides, i’m way to big to be a troll. Maybe a douche, but definitely not a troll.

          • Frank Antonelli

            Well the first step to solving a problem (douche) is recognizing that you have a problem!

          • RONBO19

            Frankie Baby, thank you so much for helping me through this difficult journey called life and for helping me see the error of my ways! I’ll be sure to remember you in my prayers before i go to sleep tonight. GO Jets!!!!!

  • AC

    The secondary is definitely worse. I believe Cro was injured for a good part of last season, or at least not 100%. He had a pro bowl year before last season. Actually I can’t eve say its worse because its such a question mark that there is no way to know. Who knows? Maybe Patterson will stay healthy and become a ball hawk. Maybe Pryors big hits over the middle won’t draw 50 flags for hits on a defenseless receiver. (A rule I hate, but nevertheless is now a part of the game). Maybe Milliner won’t look like a lost deer in headlights for 80% of the season. Maybe Kyle Wilson can prove he is not just a nickel back. But thats just it. Maybes. And I really hope Calvin Pace can keep up the Pace he did last season. Thats my point: lots of maybes. If I go the optimistic route and assume the young players will be better this year, that Pryor will be a beast on 1st and 2nd down, that Coples will become better, although in big spots he does seem to make plays, then we could see improvement in the defense. What will be really disappointing is if we don’t see improvement in the offense.

    • Craig Hoffman

      The secondary isn’t definitely worse that much I know. This is a comparison from 2013 to 2014 and 2013 Cromartie was one of the worst corners in the league, period. I agree that a hip injury had a lot to do with it but this is a recurring hip injury that he has dealt with on and off for his whole career so having him affected at age 30 was not a good sign. As I noted in the article the secondary should have been addressed better in free agency but that is not the secondary as a whole. The Jets are much deeper this year with Walls and Lankster returning but now with Patterson, Dowling, Patrick and McDougle they are quicker, more skilled and more athletic and have more options on how to match up. All of the corners, with the exception of Patterson are 27 or younger. As you said there are huge question marks, especially injury concerns with Patterson and Dowling so there is no way to know if the secondary will be better but I’ll take the skill set of this year’s group over last year’s group.

      • AC

        Well I did correct myself and say that I can’t really know if its worse. Its worse on paper. Walls and Lankster? Seriously? If there is anything to be excited about its the young safeties and possibly Milliner. I can guarantee you Milliners slow start (extremely slow) was probably one of the reasons the Jets shied away from HaHa. Probably felt the ‘Bama players might have a chip on their shoulder when coming into the league. Just speculation obviously. But you can’t say the secondary is better either. A healthy Cro is better than anyone we have at the CB position now, and the Arizona secondary is scary good this year so I expect him to do well there if he is at 100%. The one thing you point out is good is that most of these guys are young and have room for improvement. Other than that, its a pretty big question mark.

      • Paul Newbold

        The problem is, there is no adequate replacement for Cromartie, so as bad as he was last season, the Jets had to feel he was the only one on the roster who could play the position! Lankster and Walls are situational guys and backups. Patterson can play when healthy, but he’s never been able to stay healthy! Seriously, Dowling? He has been an injury since he was drafted by the Pats, I think he’s managed 8 games since the 2011 draft! The best out of the bunch might be Patrick, but you have to question his fit, as he is not a press corner, and has played more zone then man coverage. McDougle doesn’t fit the outside, he was projected as more of a slot guy and has no experience playing man. Wilson has found his place in the slot, and has shown he is inadequate on the outside. Then you have Milliner, the guy everyone is banking on to man the outside. Yes, he improved toward the end of last season, but let’s face it, his first year was a disaster! He was beat deep and fell for double moves constantly, and was benched three times! His development is crucial, but hardly guaranteed! Its very easy to see the Jets weakness is the secondary, and with this year’s schedule, it will be going up against some big time QB’s!! I still say, until they prove it on the field, this group is extremely lacking and to say this group is better then last year’s is purely speculation!