A lot has been made about the competition for the starting Quarterback spot, the running back slots and the offensive line. However there is bound to be a big competition at the inside linebacker spots for the Jets. Improving the depth at inside linebacker was one of the key off-season maneuvers by new GM Mike Maccagnan.
When I first started thinking about this question, the first thing I tried to do was establish how many linebackers we would likely carry through the 2015 NFL season, or at least how many linebackers we would break camp with. Usually this would be easy to project, but with a new coaching staff and new GM, it's a little more difficult.
Last year the Jets broke camp with 9 linebackers, 4 of which were inside linebackers:
However the Arizona Cardinals, the former team of Jets head coach Todd Bowles broke camp with 10 linebackers, 5 of which were ILB's:
I think we may follows suite with Arizona and carry the 10 linebackers. Todd Bowles would have had a big say in how many defensive players the team carried and how they constructed the roster, this year Bowles will be the authority voice. I expect his 2015 Jets team to more closely resemble the 2014 Arizona Cardinals team rather than the 2014 New York Jets team. Although at the time many Cardinals fans though 10 was too many and Glen Carson was almost a hybrid OLB/ILB (apparently).
Lets just say we do carry 10 linebackers, and 5 of them are inside linebackers. You would imagine that David Harris and Demario Davis are locks to make the team. Harris is obviously paid like a very good starter and Davis has done nothing to suggest he's close to losing his roster spot. Which means there are three spots up for grabs, and the competition will come down to:
Now if we do end up carrying four inside linebackers. You would expect Henderson and Lattimore to be the two that made the team, they both have vast experience, Henderson has a ton of talent and is still at an age where he could improve and Jamari Lattimore is a great depth option who's also a special teams standout.
In the end it could come down to Mays vs Jones.
Whether we carry four or five inside linebackers could come down to how these two players perform. You don't carry five, just to carry five. If you have four set and two players under performing, you cut them both and take the cornerback who's playing out of his skin, even if he is buried deeper on the depth chart.
How many inside linebackers do you see us carrying and who do you think makes the team?