So today we have some actual Jets news (well kind of). I think Bart Scott potentially being moved has been mentioned on more than one occasion this off-season and it makes perfect sense. His play no longer reflects his salary and we as a team need to get quicker on defence. An ageing inside linebacker with a bloated salary who is starting to slow down seems a logical choice for a necessary cut.
First of all, this is a rumour and it could be that we start 2012 the same way we started 2011 with Harris and Scott lined up next to each other. However where is the fun in that, so mentioned, considered and now moving on.
If Scott is traded and lets say for example he does not bring back a ILB in exchange (not likely) who and where do we look for his replacement. The thing about Bart Scott is that he is a vocal leader as much as a player and with a team where leadership has been questioned, the thought of losing another is not a comforting though.
So lets have a look at where we can do with ILB after the jump
My immediate thought is who do we already have that could potentially fill the spot. Nick Bellore andJosh Mauga are the two guys who come to mind straight away. Bellore I don't think is starting material. I actually think he is a decent prospect, but he was undrafted for a reason. In limited action I thought he did a nice job locating the football and making some plays. He finished the season with 19 tackles and he is a player who you'll never know until you give him a chance, Jeremy Lin style. I wouldn't feel comfortable going in with Bellore unless he blew up OTA's and pre-season.
Josh Mauga on the other hand is a player that I have always rated. Undrafted in 2009 he has more game time and NFL experience. My concern with Mauga is that he seems to pick up injuries easily, he has been released and re-signed I don't know how many times. He was having a very nice camp in 09 before going down with a leg injury. Similar in 2010 before some concussion problems. He flashed some talent in 2011 showing that he could drop back into coverage as well as up at the line. With a good 2012 camp he potentially could step up, similar with Bellore though; I wouldn't feel comfortable going into the season with Mauga as the starter.
Which moves us onto free agency. Part of cutting Scott relates to his salary and I don't think the Jets want to tie up too much money inside after the deal they gave to Harris. One player that may be of interest is David Hawthorne from Seattle who quietly puts together nice solid performances without the headlines. He could probably do a very nice job next to Harris in the middle.
So next up we have the draft, the cream of the crop at inside linebacker is of course Luke Kuechly from Boston College who seems to have absolutely everything that you would want from a linebacker. He's fast, physical with great instincts and will be a top 15 selection. I think we would have to move up if we hoped to sign Luke, and I can't see that happening. So we move a little further down to players like Dont'a Hightower who will probably go between our first round selection and our second round selection. Vontaze Burfict is a guy who you could probably nab in the third, he has as much aggression as you like but questionable instincts; personally I'm not touching him. Then you have lightning fast Mychal Kendricks and GGN favourites Demario Davis and Audie Cole.
There are plenty of options in the draft if we go that route. Personally I might be tempted to draft a guy like Davis and let him and Mauga battle it out in pre-season to determine who gets the starting nod.
The harder solution is how do you replace his leadership on and off the field, simply you ask or expect other people to step up. Across the defensive line, Harris needs to show that linebackers core is his core. There are no easy answers for leadership as anyone can step up.
If we do send Scott on his way, for lets say a 5th round selection and some cap relief. How are you replacing him.