Note: I tried to avoid rookies for this list because they are an unknown. I did have to include one rookie just because their level of success has a huge impact on this year.
Geno Smith: This one is easy because he plays such an important position and most Jet fans have some optimism about how he will perform this season. Geno was considered by many to be the best QB in this draft and was even talked about as being the number one pick early in the draft process. We simply don’t know what Geno is going to be but it is a possibility that he does become a franchise QB who can turn around this Jets offense. If he can’t show that he can run this offense then this year could be hard to watch.
Chris Ivory: The former Saint is a good running back but his issue has always been his health. He is already having difficulties with his hamstring and it’s just the start of training camp. His increased role with the Jets is worrisome because he is a physical back so he will wear down fast if his health is an issue. Assuming he’s healthy, it should be exciting to watch the run game this year with Ivory and his supporting cast. No running backs (including Ivory) have been given a lot of carries in their careers so far. The career rushing averages for Ivory, Goodson, McKnight and Powell are: 5.1, 4.5, 4.5 and 3.7. Ivory has been given his first real opportunity to become the #1 running back and he could definitely reach 1000 yards if he stays healthy but that’s a big IF given Ivory’s injury history. I believe that all of the hype Ivory is receiving is warranted but his year could be a disappointment because of injuries.
Stephen Hill: Last year was a tough year for Hill. As a fan it was hard for me to judge him because he was missing time due to hamstring and knee injuries. Even when he was playing towards the end of the year you could tell that Hill wasn’t comfortable running his routes. Hill is still learning how to transition from a raw athlete into a polished NFL receiver. His first ever NFL game against the Bills was encouraging as he recorded 5 receptions for 89 yards and 2 TDs. I really think that if he can stay healthy Hill can become a legitimate deep threat for this team. He could easily be a disappointment because of his injury issues and his failure to develop his skills. He will certainly need to work on his dropping problem and will need to separate from coverage better in order to live up to the Demaryius Thomas comparisons that he has been getting.
Kenrick Ellis: Playing behind Sione Pouha for most of his career, Kenrick Ellis will be given a great opportunity to prove that he can disrupt the offensive line. Ellis is another player who has suffered from injuries in his early career but he appears to be healthy now. If it weren’t for the character concerns that Ellis faced, he most likely would’ve been drafted before round 3. Ellis has shown at times that he can be a productive player for the Jets but he has also been very quiet as well. This year will be a big year in determining what type of player Ellis can be. I honestly don’t know what to expect from him this year but I don’t think anything he does would surprise me.
Quinton Coples: When Coples was going through the draft process, many scouts wondered if he could become an OLB. The Jets drafted Coples and played him on the D-Line which led to a successful rookie campaign where Coples led the team in sacks which is impressive since Coples wasn’t given much playing time at the beginning of the season. This recent position change should be interesting as Coples could finally help address the pass rushing OLB position that the Jets have been looking for years. If he adjusts well with his new position, Coples could become a game changer and register double digit sacks. He could also struggle and not be able to put pressure on the QB which is a realistic possibility. When coaches decide to make a position change they know that they are taking a risk but this seems like a great risk/reward move given the vast amount of potential that Coples has. I imagine that if Coples isn’t good at OLB the team can move him back to the D-Line where he had success.
I personally think:
• Geno will have a good rookie year and the team can comfortably say that he is the franchise QB
• Ivory will play well but he will miss a significant amount of games due to injury
• Hill will take a big step towards his development and have around 700-800 yards receiving
• Ellis will be an average NFL starting nose tackle
• Coples will struggle at first but will end the second half of the year as one of the Jet’s best players
Who do you think will have a great or disappointing year?