Grading current outside linebacker situation
As the New York Jets are already underway in training camp, their current situation at outside linebacker could actually be a concern.
The weakest part of the stout defense of the New York Jets would have to be the pass rush. Gang Green’s outside linebackers aren’t necessarily untalented, however the position has an obvious lack of star power.
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We all thought linebacker Quinton Coples would provide some of that once he finally adjusted to playing in a 3-4 scheme, but head coach Todd Bowles quit on him early in the year. The unit is now made up of guys who the Jets truly didn’t invest much into.
Linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin is the most valuable edge rusher on the team coming off of a modest rookie campaign. The third-rounder racked up 17 tackles to go along with four sacks and a forced fumble. Things got a bit scary in Week 1 when he was knocked unconscious, although he was able to recover and play 14 more games (didn’t play Week 11).
Linebacker Trevor Reilly is another player who holds value. The Utah product is a piece of the special teams worth keeping and a body who the edge rush needs in the rotation. At 28 years of age, Reilly can also be a mentor for the newbies who have a high ceiling. If he isn’t on the field, he’s experienced enough to teach some of the younger guys.
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Rookie linebacker Jordan Jenkins might be one of those guys he can coach up.
The Jets selected the Georgia standout in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft and they got themselves a steal.
Jenkins produced nicely alongside Leonard Floyd and production at the next level shouldn’t be an issue either.
The SEC is the most competitive conference in college football and it gives kids a taste of what the NFL is like.
Combine that with a 6’3, 260 lb. frame and you have plenty to look forward to with Jenkins. Look for him to do slightly more than what Mauldin did in year one.
Freddie Bishop, Julian Stanford, Josh Martin and Deion Barnes round out the rest of the edge rushers. Bishop is a CFL prospect who has potential, but making the jump to the NFL could be tricky. It’s clear that he needs to be groomed whether he’s buried on the roster or a member of the practice squad.
Stanford and Martin have an ounce of experience in the league, however it’s nothing to brag home about. Stanford hasn’t hit the field since 2014 in Detroit while Martin hasn’t played since 2014 in Kansas City. Both seem to be long-shots to make the final 53-man roster.
Barnes came into camp last offseason as an intriguing defensive end/outside linebacker out of Penn State and he’ll have another opportunity to crack the roster in 2016 given how shallow the position is. Nonetheless, his odds aren’t favorable. There’s a strong possibility he’ll be on the practice squad yet again.
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Overall, this unit lacks a standout player and depth. Coach Bowles will find ways to get to the quarterback this upcoming season, but Gang Green might be leaning too heavily on upside here.