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Assessing the Roster- Defensive End

Muhammad Wilkerson- Without argument this has been the Jets best draft pick since 2007. Wilkerson has developed into the second best 34 DE in the NFL and he is going to have a 10 year career in the NFL. His progress over these two seasons has been outstanding. What is so nice to see is how active he seems to be on every play. Wilkerson plays around 80% of the teams snaps and has the same energy level on snap 1 as he does snap 80. He is the type of player that wears a defense down and then dominates in the 4th quarter. He has a great burst and tremendous instincts about where a play is headed or where the ball is relative to his body. When he was drafted I said his upside was Trevor Pryce in my draft projections and he is right there. He is going to be every bit as good as Shaun Ellis was a 34 Defensive End and if he played on a better team he would have been in the Pro Bowl this year.

I think the one negative with Wilkerson is that you donít know if he can ever be an impact player. By that I mean can he sack the QB. I saw times where he was collapsing pockets but got lost trying to make the final stop. That is the one area where I think Ellis was a better player because Ellis in a rushing role was very good. I believe it was Damien Woody that made the same observation about Wilkerson when discussing his impact on a game. Because the NFL is now so slanted towards the pass the run defense, where Wilkerson should grade a 95 out of 100, only counts for 35-40% of the pass rushing grade. If he can work on that, especially if the team transitions to a 43 defense, he is going to be a multi time Pro Bowler. A real keeper and a pleasure to watch play.

Mike DeVito- DeVito is your typical lunch pail type player. He is the type of guy that goes out there and does a ton of dirty work for the team and never gets credit for it. You have to love many of the qualities DeVito brings to the game. First of all you love his versatility. Ask him to play outside and he will. Ask him to go move inside and he will. And you never notice any real downgrade in play with him on the field which is a great compliment to a guy moving around on the line. Off the field he is an ambassador for the team. He speaks very well and doesnít hide the way others might.

Really the one negative to Mike is the fact that its clear at time why he went undrafted. There are times when he simply doesnít have the tools a guy like Wilkerson has to work with that leave him getting pushed aside on a crucial play. Doesnít mean he doesnít make his share of stops, because more often than not he is right there on a play, but there will be times where he just gets blown up by a great lineman. One of the better two down players in the NFL.

Quinton Coples- The sky is the limit with this kid. He is everything the Jets dreamed for when they drafted Vernon Gholston in 2008. He is big. He is strong. He is athletic. He is nasty. Coples, at times, looks like a man playing against boys, which is a rarity at this level of play. I watch him lineup and just manhandle his guy, literally pushing both of them into the Quarterback in an attempt for a sack. Its impressive and he has that ďfreakĒ potential when it comes to being a pass rusher. You cant teach the natural abilities he has. If you put that ability into those two names I mentioned above the results would be scary.

The issue with Coples comes from effort. Clearly in the preseason there was a disconnect with him and the coaching staff over effort. Unfortunately that seemed to carry into the regular season when the Jets clearly needed a pass rusher on the field. There were times when the staff barely played him for reasons that made no sense to me. Yes he is undisciplined and he had a few costly penalties, but those are things you learn with playing time. He needs to work on his run defense but that is standard for elite pass rushers. In this day and age designing a defense that switched he and Wilkerson around the line can hide those deficiencies and accentuate the pass rushing. If Coples works at it he will be the best pass rusher the team has had since John Abraham.

Overall

This is a really solid unit, maybe the best on the team. I have already been asked questions about Wilkerson and his future salary because he has been so good. The Jets control his rights for a long time as they will pick up an option on him for 2016 that he has to accept. So itís a cheap fixture for the organization. Same goes with Coples.

DeVito is a free agent this year and the Jets should bring him back. I donít think the cost will be too expensive though the Jets did give him a paycut this season so Im sure he will explore all options. There was a time when it seemed that they wanted to phase him out but he is a solid contributor. I havenít given it much thought but Id guess a 4 year deal in the $2-3 million a year range will get the job done. I really like the idea of putting these three on the line together with DeVito playing inside. I think some consideration will be given to Coples playing OLB, but I think the personnel is going to do better with 4 lineman as the base package next season. Hopefully these three will all be part of it.

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