Q: Aside from the QB position, which is the most interesting position competition you foresee?
EA: Great question to get us underway.
Let’s start on offense with guard since I want to clarify something from last week. Brian Winters, a third round-pick from Kent State, is going to push Stephen Peterman for a starting spot. If Winters wins the job, I think he would shift over to left guard and Willie Colon, who worked solely at LG during the spring, would switch to the right. Typically you will line up your tight end more on the right side and you’ll get your most powerful linemen (Colon) out there. Winters is a more athletic option, so he would be a natural to shift left and pull more on the power runs. But the 6’4”, 323-pound Peterman started every game the past three seasons for the Lions and he will be ready for this battle.
As we have noted many times, the wide receiver position is filled with uncertainty. While Santonio Holmes told me he is targeting a training camp return, the Green & White may open practice in Cortland with Tone still on the sideline. As Tone said to me on JTL, he suffered a Grade 4 Lisfranc injury where there was a separation and ligament damage in his foot.
If Holmes is out for a while this summer, the Jets may have to add another veteran to the mix. Vidal Hazelton had a very good minicamp as did rookie Ryan Spadola. Fellow rookie Zach Rogers flashed at times and he could make a push for a roster spot.
Kellen Winslow Jr. made the most out of his tryout in the spring and was inked to a deal. A healthy, reinvigorated Winslow would give the tight end position a needed boost. Fullback will be interesting because the Jets have veteran Lex Hilliard and they added Tommy Bohanon, a seventh-round pick from Wake Forest.
Defensively I will stay in the backfield at safety and cornerback. Who will line up as a starter next to Dawan Landry with Josh Bush and Antonio Allen being the favorites? The Jets say Kyle Wilson has had a fabulous offseason, but Rex Ryan believes rookie Dee Milliner has “special” in him. So I like that competition on the outside and that fight for those final CB spots could be crazy. There is so much talent here at cornerback.
Q: Do you think the Jets will have the best defense in the AFC East?
Both the Dolphins and the Bills have made some improvements, but I think the Green & White will have the best unit in the division. Cornerback Antonio Cromartie and defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson are stars, and hybrid Quinton Coples has the potential to dominate as well. The Jets have increased their speed quite a bit in the front seven with the additions of DT Sheldon Richardson, OLB Antwan Barnes and the elevation of Demario Davis to starter.
The Patriots lived off turnovers last year, but they give up a ton of yards through the air. Yes, that is a product of them being ahead frequently, but that is not looked upon by most as a dominant unit. Former Jets defensive coordinator Mike Pettine was a quality hire for the Bills and they have some pieces with DE Mario Williams, DT Kyle Williams, CB Stephon Gilmore and S Jairus Byrd. How quickly will free agent additions at LB (Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler) and CB (Brent Grimes) make a difference in South Florida?
Q: Let's say Geno isn't deemed ready to be an NFL starter and Mark gets the ball Week 1. What do the Jets do if the West Coast really is perfect for Sanchez and he shines? You just drafted a top QB yet now you have a guy who has a chance to be a solid option for the next 10 years as well.
EA: If Mark Sanchez shines in the West Coast offense, we should buy sunglasses and enjoy the view. This is a winning league and Sanchez should get the rock if he gives the Green & White the best shot at victory in Week 1. We are getting way ahead of ourselves here, though, talking about the next decade. There is no pressure for Geno Smith to start — it’s not like he was the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. Smith is a second-rounder who is not going to count a ton on the books.
Q: I know there is only one Wayne Chrebet, but can you see either (Zach) Rogers or Marcus Davis to be the next Wayne Chrebet with their potential?
EA: Yes, we must hold off on the Wayne Chrebet comparisons. As far as Rogers, the Tennessee product is a savvy route runner who has a knack for getting open underneath. His natural position is the slot and the Jets have a very good one of those in Jeremy Kerley. At 6’4”, 228 pounds, Marcus Davis has very good size but didn’t get many opportunities in 11-on-11 at minicamp. He could benefit from pads in the blocking category, but he has to find a way to separate from NFL corners.
Q: When do the Jets go to Cortland?
EA: The Jets report to SUNY Cortland on July 25. I will probably be in town by July 24.
Q: When are we going to make a smart move and pick up FA WR Brandon Lloyd?
Q: Do you think the Jets will try to get more talent on the WR corps or are they going to go into 2013 bare bones like last year?
Orange County, CA
Q: EA, could we see the Jets sign free agent wideouts like Braylon Edwards or Brandon Lloyd?
EA: The Jets will continue to tinker with their roster. After signing vet Ben Obomanu, they brought in former Jaguars wideout Mike Sims-Walker for a tryout. First-year GM John Idzik will not take a “bare bones” approach and I anticipate the Jets to continue to scan the open market. Wide receiver is a fluid situation.
Spring Valley, NY
Q: Has Coples had any time in minicamp at OLB? If so how does he look? What about the rest of the D-line?
EA: Yes, Coples played some OLB at camp (the Jets don't often play a conventional defense). The former hoop player is a natural athlete and he doesn’t look awkward standing up. Coples will rush the QB more often than not. The pads won’t come on until training camp, but you can see there is a lot of talent along the line. Most people expect a lot more four-man fronts in 2013. You know what you have in Wilkerson, Coples will play both OLB and DE and rookie DT Sheldon Richardson already has an NFL motor. Is Kenrick Ellis ready to take the next step at the nose position? Vets Damon Harrison and Antonio Garay will add to the rotation. You could make the argument that Wilkerson is the most indispensable player on this roster.