- Julian Aenlle
Depth at Linebacker: Major Hole to Point of Strength
In just one off-season General Manager Mike Maccagnan has taken the linebacker position from dud to stud. Last year at times it was tough to watch, linebackers that would struggle to get to the quarterback and drop in coverage. This year we have an abundance amount of talent coming into camp that it will be hard for coach Bowles to pick who stays and who goes. This is a very good problem for a coach because it looks like no matter whom they pick the staff will not be disappointed and neither will this fan base.
Maccagnan has pulled the trigger, out with old in with the new within his first two years. He has weeded out the average talent left by the last regime and brought in players that fit the system Bowles wants to run. Mid season he let go former first round pick Quinton Coples, which was a sign that he is not settling for anything less than great. This offseason he let Demario Davis walk in free agency who was once a young promising linebacker for Rex Ryan’s defense. He has also chose not to resign old faithful, Calvin Pace.
Maccagnan has brought in young talent and a lot of speed at the linebacker position. Last year Maccagnan used the teams 3rd round pick on a fast, hungry line backer Lorenzo Mauldin who had a very promising rookie campaign. He accumulated 4 sacks in limited play as well as tied for second in the NFL among with 7 QB hits. Also last offseason he signed free agent LB Erin Henderson for cheap because of his troubled past with suspensions and DUI arrests. He saw his snaps increased as the year went on and essentially snagging the starting LB next to David Harris. He will expect to be even better this year starting week 1 in that role.
This offseason Maccagnan had spent two early picks in this years draft on two fast young linebackers. Darron Lee out of Ohio State who will bring the speed and versatility needed in todays NFL. Helps covers elite tight ends in this league as well as slot receivers. Second linebacker take is Jordan Jenkins out of Georgia who brings a young stud linebacker who can set the edge. He will essentially bring what Calvin Pace brought to the table when he first arrived and was able to do for the years after. He was also able to sign a Canadian Football League standout Freddie Bishop III. He was able to get to the QB a lot last season and accumulated 11 sacks.
Going into this season this new young revitalized linebacker core will be very promising. Jets can expect to be getting to the quarterback a lot, which is something the Jets have struggled to produce in recent years. The staff can also be very comfortable with our linebackers dropping in coverage. Jets will not have to worry being torched by running backs in the passing game or tight ends being able to be wide open. This year I expect David Harris, Erin Henderson, Darron Lee, Jordan Jenkins, Lorenzo Mauldin, Freddie Bishop, Tawaiin Jones to make the roster. Bruce Carter and Trevor Reilly make a push to grab a spot as well. Mike Maccagnan has done a great job in building this position for now but also for the future as well when he brought in young players here. Now lets sit back and enjoy all this speed on the defensive side of the ball.