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Dexter McDougle: 2014 and Beyond

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Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Dexter McDougle lost his 2014 season to a torn ACL shortly after the preseason opener. At that point, McDougle had been getting some snaps with the first team defense. Reports out of training camp indicated there were some struggles for the rookie third round pick from Maryland. In the preseason opener, he had generally played solid coverage against the Colts' backups, but he was flagged for an illegal contact and run over by a stiff arm.

2014 was the second straight year where McDougle lost most of his season to injury. His senior season at Maryland was cut to three games due to a shoulder injury. Partially due to this, many were surprised the Jets used a third round pick on McDougle last May.

Since that pick, there has been a lot of debate about where McDougle was really going to be selected had he not been injured. It probably in truth would have depended on his play during his last year at Maryland. There isn't a lot to suggest he was going to go on the first two days no matter what. It was possible he could have played his way into an earlier selection, but he probably would have needed a big senior year. We are after all talking about a player who never got a single vote for an all conference team.

For the Jets' purposes, it probably would not be wise to depend on McDougle for anything in 2014. He is a work in progress. He rarely played the press coverage preferred by Rex Ryan and Todd Bowles. In college he frequently played way off the line of scrimmage. McDougle also showed a tendency to be too aggressive, making him susceptible to double moves on the pro level. There is likely to be a learning curve. The question is whether things will click in one training camp, part of one season, one full season, longer, or never. We can't say.

I think McDougle might fit best as a nickel playing in the slot, and I think he probably should be allowed to compete for that job. If he shows a real aptitude, the Jets can look at expanding his role. If he struggles, they can decrease it and work on the practice field.