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New York Jets Training Camp Battles Edition One: QB, RB, WR and TE

By Richard Wilhelm
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Going into the upcoming season the depth chart for the New York Jets is a mystery. When a team is in rebuilding mode it is an exciting time for players who otherwise would not have a shot at starting. Looking at the roster it is obvious that hardly any positions are set in stone. For a new fan it is a time to grow with the team, for longstanding fans it is a scary time with so many unanswered questions. Answers will start to be answered as training camp progresses, but for now camp battles are the thing to watch.

May 10, 2013; Florham Park, NJ, USA; New York Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith (7) drops back to pass during New York Jets rookie minicamp at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Every team needs an adequate quarterback to lead the squad. The phrase “defense wins championships” is all well and good but with a rebuilding team quarterback is key. Compared to last year the quarterback squad is much improved. They had Tim Tebow who was brought in solely for publicity and money, there is no sugar-coating that. Now they acquired Geno Smith through the draft and former starter David Garrard, both of which could start for this team. They still of course have Mark Sanchez, Greg McElroy and Matt Simms to battle for the job as well. When breaking down a camp battle it is a good idea to do a main tier and a sub tier. The main tier would be Geno Smith vs. Mark Sanchez vs. David Garrard. The sub tier would be Greg McElroy vs. Matt Simms. Mark Sanchez’s fate is directly tied to Geno Smith essentially. If David Garrard stays healthy there is no reason why he wouldn’t have a spot on the squad. These factors directly affect Greg McElroy who should have no problem beating out Matt Simms. Although this is a very early projection there is no reason to believe the Jets will keep more than three quarterbacks on the roster. They need the roster spots for positions of need such as wide receiver and tight end. With that being said my prediction is Geno Smith (starter), Mark Sanchez (2nd string) and David Garrard (3rd string). If Sanchez is traded or cut the projection would move Garrard to the backup position and McElroy to 3rd string. Trading Sanchez will be an uphill battle to say the least. Roster: Geno Smith, Mark Sanchez, David Garrard

Running back for the Jets this year will be exciting compared to last year. They finally have a running back in Chris Ivory that has the speed to sprint down the field. Adding Mike Goodson was also a great signing. He is a big body like Shonn Greene, only difference is he can catch the football. The fans will not miss Shonn Greene once the season is in full swing. Bilal Powell and Joe McKnight are back but will not have the ease they had last year of making the team. Add John Griffin and you have the Jets running back squad. In the main tier you have Chris Ivory vs. Mike Goodson vs. Bilal Powell. In the sub tier you have Joe McKnight vs. John Griffin. With only two running backs on the squad you essentially have everything you need. You have the quickness of Chris Ivory and the big mauler in Mike Goodson or Bilal Powell. With that being said the only way Joe McKnight makes the team at this point is as a returner or has an outstanding preseason.

With Jeremy Kerley on the team it is hard to see them wasting a roster spot. My prediction is Chris Ivory (Starter), Mike Goodson (Goal line, 3rd down) and Bilal Powell (change of pace). That leaves Joe McKnight and John Griffin on the outside looking in. Roster: Chris Ivory, Mike Goodson, Bilal Powell

Sept 30, 2012; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes (10) catches a pass while being defended by San Francisco 49ers strong safety Donte Whitner (31) during the first half at MetLIfe Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

One of the biggest weaknesses on the Jets is the wide receiver position. The fact that they did not draft one is puzzling to say the least. Tavon Austin would be on this team if it weren’t for a trade between the Bills and the Rams. The fact that he is not here will hurt for some time to come. The team’s first string receiver Santonio Holmes is a 2nd stringer on almost any other team. For this reason a fan cannot simply look the main tier of Holmes, Kerley, Hill, and possibly Gates. The sub tier needs to hold a star or the Jets will be in for a long season. Braylon Edwards needs to be resigned by this team, it is a no brainer. There is one name in the sub tier who stands out by the name of Zach Rogers who is my pick as the player to watch. He has the feel of what happened with the Giants and Victor Cruz. Completely unknown, comes to play, and wants to be a star. To break it down for the casual fan here is how the wide receiver core breaks down, along with my prediction. The main tier consists of Santonio Holmes (1st string), Stephen Hill (2nd string), Jeremy Kerley (slot/3rd string receiver and possibly most talented), and Clyde Gates (4th/ 5th string). Sub tier consists of Zach Rogers who should beat out Clyde Gates for the (4th string), and Jordan White who in my mind will be the last receiver to make the squad. All other participants will mostly likely be cut. These players include Joseph Collins, Vidal Hazelton, Thomas Mayo, Titus Ryan, Ryan Spadola, K.J. Stroud and Marcus Davis. If the team resigns Braylon Edwards, Jordan White or maybe Clyde Gates will possibly get the axe. Roster: Santonio Holmes, Stephen Hill, Jeremy Kerley, Zach Rogers, Clyde Gates, Jordan White

The last group that will be discussed in this edition is the tight end squad. In a west coast offense the tight end is essential. The problem with this is the Jets don’t have a solid tight end. Most of the members are unproven and it’s hard to make a main tier besides for Jeff Cumberland. There are currently five tight ends on the squad and it is questionable if any of them would make another teams’ squad besides for Cumberland. There is buzz around two players this year at the tight end position, Hayden Smith and Mike Shanahan. Smith barely played football before last year but is getting rave reviews from the coaches. Shanahan on the other hand has great promise as an undrafted free agent. The other players are Konrad Reuland and Chris Pantale. As you can see the only player set in stone is Cumberland. Being in the New York market you have to follow the buzz around the players this early in the offseason. Roster: Jeff Cumberland, Hayden Smith, Mike Shanahan

If you enjoyed my assessment please stay tuned for edition two where numerous other camp battles will be discussed. So many things can change from now until the start of the season, but that is what makes the NFL so exciting. Be sure to follow me on twitter @koda522 and if you have any questions or suggestions be sure to contact me or @TheJetPress. Thanks for reading and as always bleed green or don’t bother bleeding.

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