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Which former Jets should have moved to another position?

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Houston Texans v New York Jets

Over the years the Jets have had lots of talented athletes that have gone on to play multiple positions. Joe Klecko was famously a pro bowler at three different positions, Damien Woody excelled at tackle having begun his career as an interior lineman and players like Bobby Humphrey, Nick Bellore and Lawrence Thomas went on to extend their careers by moving over to the other side of the ball.

It’s always fascinating to consider which players could have had more success if they had changed positions at some point during their career. Would Brandon Moore’s career have fizzled out if he remained as a defensive tackle? Was Darrelle Revis extending his career with a move to safety ever a viable possibility? Would Tim Tebow still be in the league if he wasn’t so resolutely determined to remain as a quarterback?

It’s one thing to fill in at another position in an emergency or just to try and confound the opposition with an unusual look. Rex Ryan would regularly line his defensive players up at different positions to confuse the other team’s offense. At various times, he lined up Brodney Pool at defensive tackle, Sione Po’uha at middle linebacker and Quinton Coples at cornerback, just to name a few examples.

Here’s our suggestions for six former Jets who could, and perhaps should, have changed positions.

Saalim Hakim - from WR to FS

The Jets experimented with using speedy wide receiver Saalim Hakim as a defensive back but he was only on the field for three snaps in that role. On one, he rushed the quarterback and registered a pressure and on another, he showed off some incredible range on this amazing tackle.

With his 4.3 speed and his experience of catching the ball, perhaps this is an experiment the Jets could have persisted with.

Erik McMillan - from FS to RB

In the late eighties, there were a couple of seasons where it seemed like the Jets’ best hope of scoring was a defensive player; safety Erik McMillan.

The Jets did attempt a position change with McMillan, moving him from safety to cornerback to try and mitigate the fact he wasn’t much of a tackler, but this didn’t pay off. However, a role where he’d have the ball in his hands - and where avoiding tackles would be a good thing - might have been ideal for him.

As a running back, McMillan would have been a big-play threat with breakaway speed. All seven of his defensive touchdowns came on plays that went for 40 yards or more.

Antonio Cromartie - From CB to WR

Under Rex Ryan, the Jets experimented with running some offensive packages that incorporated Cromartie, who himself was a return threat on kickoffs and turnovers. He ran an end around and caught a pass in the flat, but also showed an ability to be a downfield threat on this play.

Had this play worked - and but for Mark Sanchez’s flaws, it probably would have - the Jets might ultimately have done this on a more regular basis and maybe even considered making him a regular part of their offense. However, Cromartie came down out of bounds and it was never attempted again.

With his straight line speed and ball skills - who can forget that iconic one-handed interception he had in the playoff against Peyton Manning? - Cromartie could have been a deep threat and a weapon after the catch on short passes.

Brad Smith - from WR to CB

Brad Smith, who converted from quarterback to wide receiver when he was drafted but saw most of his success as a wildcat quarterback, could have been a good candidate to convert in the other direction. This is a move which Troy Brown successfully pulled off in New England, with Eric Mangini briefly trying to pull the same trick with Chansi Stuckey before abandoning that idea.

As with McMillan, one of Cromartie’s main weaknesses, especially in his early career, was his inability to tackle. However, Smith was a very willing tackler, as he showed on special teams where he racked up 82 tackles in his career.

At 6’2” and 210, Smith could have been a big cornerback in the Aqib Talib or Brandon Browner mold, using some of his physicality to be effective in press coverage and being capable of moving inside as a “big nickel”. With his ball skills and the scheme awareness that comes from being a former quarterback, perhaps Smith could have done well in this role.

Vernon Gholston - from DL to ILB

2008’s sixth overall pick was the complete opposite of Klecko, as he somehow managed to be a complete bust at three positions. There’s no question he was athletic though, so how could the Jets have made better use of this?

Perhaps moving him into a Ted/Jack linebacker role could have worked better. This is a move Mike Vrabel made successfully with the Patriots at basically the same size and despite having much worse athletic numbers.

The idea would be that Gholston can attack the line of scrimmage and take out lead blockers much like Bart Scott used to. He wouldn’t be expected to go sideline-to-sideline and would now no longer need to develop technique and pass rushing instincts in the trenches.

Gholston’s famed ability to be completely invisible would have made him a useful weapon in trap coverages too.

Jalin Marshall - from WR to RB

Finally, Jalin Marshall was out of the league after his rookie season, but perhaps would have lasted longer if the Jets had employed him as a running back.

Marshall played as a quarterback in high school and carried the ball 27 times in college on jet sweeps, end arounds and in wildcat packages.

His elusiveness and running ability have always been apparent from his film as a return man and his receiving skills could have also made him a threat in the passing game as a scat back.

If you can think of any better suggestions, let us have them in the comments.