New York Jets linebacker, Vernon Gholston was supposed to be the perfect fit. The 6' 3", 266 lb. linesman-turned-linebacker was supposed to terrorize quarterbacks around the league with his speed, strength and “long limbs”. He was supposed to be the pass rusher from hell. Selected 6th over-all by the Jets in the 2008 NFL draft & signed to a 5-year, $50 million contract with $21 million in guaranteed money, he was supposed to be a beast.
Yeah. Right. The former Ohio State sack machine has produced about as close to nothing as is possible.
Gholston's rookie season was a hot mess. He did not start in any games, and of 13 total tackles, only 5 were solo tackles. His achillies heel is proving to be the 3-4 scheme. It would seem the change is eating him alive. Under the 4-3 scheme, Gholston's college career caused his name to be thrown into the mix as a possible first pick of the 2008 draft. So far, under the 3-4, Gholston has been rendered a ghost on the field.
Enter Jamaal Westerman. Also a defensive end-turned-linebacker out of Rutgers, Westerman has reportedly been impressive at his first Jets minicamp. Westerman's transition to the position has been smooth so far, reportedly he "looks like a natural" and "more impressive and instinctive than 2008 first-round pick Vernon Gholston". Certainly sounds like quite the contrast, doesn't it? Also sounds like maybe Vernon Gholston has the clock ticking on his career as a Jet.
Rex Ryan's defensive game plan depends on the ability to be able to disguise who is rushing the passer and who is dropping in coverage, so players with the skills to do both is simply a must. Jamaal has managed to impress his new head coach by seemingly adjusting to the addition of pass coverage to his responsibilities.Too much more of this and I suspect he will seal the fate of coach Ryan's "special project".
There has been a lot of talk floating around about the Jets needs and trades for names like Anquan Boldin and Braylon Edwards. Jamaal Westerman keeps this up and Gholston may hear his name thrown into that mix. That's if his horrible performance record hasn't completely tanked his trade value.
Xander Diaz is Editor-In-Chief for AFCBeast.com