Scouts Inc.’s Matt Williamson looks at AFC East players on the verge of a breakout in 2011.
Picking a budding star wasn’t easy with this team. The Jets have a very top-heavy roster that features some truly exceptional players who clearly already qualify as stars. But I don’t see a ton of young emerging talent. The 2011 draft could net two very valuable rookies in defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson, New York’s first-round pick, and Kenrick Ellis, another big body with a lot of ability who could project to nose tackle or defensive end in New York’s odd front. In time, coach Rex Ryan might makes stars of both players. He already has gotten a ton of production from the unheralded Mike DeVito at end.
But my choice for this story is starting nose tackle Sione Pouha, who really already established himself on the inside after Kris Jenkins once again was lost to injury early last season. But Pouha needs to be recognized as one of the better nose tackles in all of football. And slowly incorporating Ellis as Pouha’s backup could help the veteran maintain his stamina.
Pouha has the perfect build for the position and is extremely powerful with the ability to handle the double team and allow inside backers Bart Scott and David Harris to run more freely to the ball carrier. Pouha has only 2.5 career sacks, and that will never be his forte, but he now consistently makes everyone around him much better and is an extremely key cog in the Jets’ exceptional defense.
Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.