With two draft picks, the Jets may have transformed the look of their once-aging defensive line. A year ago, this was a long-in-the-tooth unit that relied on three players over 30 -- NT Sione Pouha, DE Shaun Ellis and DT/DE Trevor Pryce.
The drafting of DE Muhammad Wilkerson (first round) and NT Kenrick Ellis (third) changes the dynamic. Here's what the Jets' depth chart looks like right now (unsigned players in italics):
DE Shaun Ellis, Muhammad Wilkerson, Ropati Pitoitua
NT Sione Pouha, Kenrick Ellis, Martin Tevaseu
DT Mike DeVito, Marcus Dixon, Trevor Pryce
Analysis: It's still early, but it looks like the Jets should be able to employ a six-man rotation. The key question is Shaun Ellis. Will the team's longest-tenured player return? In a normal offseason, the Jets might have been willing to move on without him and hand the job to Wilkerson. But the lockout is preventing rookies from working with their teams and learning their respective systems. That could be huge for players like Wilkerson and Ellis, both of whom played at a lower level of competition in college. The longer the lockout drags on, the more it increases Shaun Ellis' value to the team.
When things get settled, Wilkerson and Kenrick Ellis will provide added flexibility. Wilkerson can play 3-4 DE and slide inside on passing downs. Ellis has the ability to play over the center and guard, and maybe over the tackle in certain looks. Nowadays, an inside pass rush is critical because offenses are employing quick-throw passing attacks -- and the quickest route to the QB is up the middle. The Jets also can use Ellis and Pouha at tackle, nearly 700 pounds of wall. They always wanted to use that look with Pouha and Kris Jenkins, but didn't get much of a chance because of Jenkins' injuries the last two seasons.
The Jets are high on Dixon and Pitoitua, who, according to Rex Ryan, is doing well in his rehab from Achilles-tendon surgery. On paper, the line looks a lot younger and deeper than a year ago.