Continuing our ratings of the current roster, we now move on to guys who fit best as defensive ends in a 3-4 alignment. For a refresher on how the ratings work, click here.
Shaun Ellis (2-B)
Ellis was one of the best 3-4 ends in the NFL last season. He was extremely stout against the run. The Jets allowed less yards per rush at where Ellis typically lined up than any other team. He was also top five at the position in sacks, hits, and pressures. I suspect Ellis overperformed a bit because he was in a contract year. He is usually not that good against the run. He, however, is serviceable against the run and very good at working through traffic and collapsing the pocket. He can line up inside and outside in the 4-3. I would imagine Shaun could be looking at a healthy payday from a team looking to bolster its defensive line. Ellis still has something in the tank, has made the Pro Bowl as an end in both 4-3 and 3-4 base defenses, and is versatile.
Mike Devito (2-B)
Sione Pouha's emergence in 2009 helped the Jets survive the loss of Kris Jenkins. Pouha was so good that Jenkins was going to start at end. Then he got hurt again, and Devito's emergence in 2010 helped the Jets survive it. He has improved markedly over the past two seasons. Either he or Pouha would probably qualify as the player most improved under Rex Ryan. Devito was a rock in the run game. To move to the top tier, he will need to get better collapsing the pocket using power as a pass rusher. He does not provide a ton there, which is funny because I remember him being a better pass rusher than run defender when he entered the league.
Trevor Pryce (2-B)
His numbers never jump off the page, but offensive lines have a ton of trouble blocking him when he is going after the quarterback. He has a quick first step off the snap.
Muhammad Wilkerson (3-D)
He is really big and really athletic. Many smart football people think he is going to be a star. There have been Haloti Ngata comparisons. I am skeptical he will be that good. I think he will be a solid starter. I would not have a problem, though, if I am wrong and the people making the Ngata comparisons are correct.
Ropati Pitoitua (3-E)
I think he could move up from this tier in 2011. There are not many 6'8" 315 pounders with his athletic ability out there. The coaching staff seemed to be pleased with his more consistent technique before he got hurt last year. It depends on how much he has lost from the Achilles injury. There is a bit of a logjam on the line so there is also a chance he will not make the team.
Jarron Gilbert (3-D)
He was a darling of the 2009 Draft because of this YouTube clip of him jumping out of a pool. He has freakish athleticism but is still very raw. The Jets' coaching staff is very good at molding raw talent and teaching technique. The team saw enough to promote him from the practice squad during the season last year.
Matt Kroul (3-D)
A hard worker who found a place on the roster last season, Kroul is another guy with potential who is in for a fight for limited roster spots.
Marcus Dixon (3-E)
He is another. Like Kenrick Ellis, he got into trouble early in life and turned things around after a stint at Hampton University. He figures to be a mentor to Ellis as long as he is still with the team.
Carlton Powell (4-F)
If he impresses in camp, he has a chance to jump the lower rated guys.
Lorenzo Washington (4-F)