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How Does Darron Lee Fit the Jets?

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Todd Bowles gave the media some early clues last night about where Darron Lee will start his career.

Re-signing Erin Henderson does give the Jets some flexibility when it comes to developing Lee. They can begin his career playing situationally on passing downs.

Eventually, the Jets do plan on moving him into a starting role. From an immediate perspective, inside linebacker was not a great position of need. David Harris and Henderson are adequate. From a long-term viewpoint, it was. Both Harris and Henderson will be over 30 when the season starts. Their contractual situations also make them year to year propositions. If either shows signs of decline, they can be cut after 2016 with no dead money. Lee can slide into a starting role.

We also tend to think of needs in strict positional terms, but Lee fills a need rolewise. He gives the Jets a linebacker who can potentially match up with tight ends and backs in coverage and play effectively. This is something the team has lacked for a long time. How many times did Demario Davis get burned when other teams isolated him in the passing game?

The real question is when Lee will step into the starting lineup. The two most recent successful early picks the Jets had at linebacker were Jonathan Vilma and Harris. Both started their respective rookie seasons as backups. Then injuries forced them into the starting lineup. Sam Cowart's injury in 2004 opened a door for Vilma. Vilma getting hurt in 2007 handed Harris a starting job. Both eventually played so well that they remained starters.