Breaking down the New York Jets' roster, unit by unit, in preparation for training camp:
Top storyline: The Jets are taking a calculated gamble by going into camp with no starting experience at outside linebacker. That's right, none. The most experienced player is Mauldin, who played 244 defensive snaps last season as a situational rusher. He's expected to graduate to an every-down role, probably on the weak side. Mauldin impressed during offseason practices, demonstrating an improved understanding of the defense. On the strong side, Reilly was atop the off-season depth chart, but that position truly is wide open. Jenkins, a third-round pick from Georgia, will get a chance to win the job after a promising offseason. Teammates were blown away by how quickly he adapted.
Player to watch: With the post-draft focus on Christian Hackenberg and the ongoing quarterback drama, Lee became a footnote. That's unusual for a first-round pick, but it could be a good thing because there will be less scrutiny. He's not expected to start right away -- he's playing behind Henderson -- so he'll be able to concentrate on his specific role. He will be used in the nickel package, which should accentuate his blitz-and-cover skills. Lee brings a different dimension to the revamped linebacking corps -- speed. This dude can run. First, there's the matter of his contract. Lee is one of only three unsigned first-round picks.
Training camp will be a success if ...: A couple of the young players nail down prominent roles in the linebacker rotation. Mainly, we're talking about Mauldin, Jenkins and Lee, all of whom represent the future of the linebacking corps. Right now, the Jets have only three seasoned linebackers -- Harris, Henderson and Carter, a free-agent addition from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Harris, the defensive glue, will have to show the way. There will be growing pains, but the overall speed of the unit will be improved. The outside backers produced only eight sacks last season; it has to be better than that.
Wild card: Former starter Calvin Pace, 35, is only a phone call away. If Todd Bowles doesn't like what he sees from the kid linebackers, he could reach out to Pace, who reportedly wants to keep playing. That would be at least a month down the line.
By the numbers: When running backs were targeted in the passing game, the Jets ranked only 23rd in opposing QBR (60.8), according to ESPN Stats & Information. The linebacking corps had some hiccups. Lee will help in this area, but it will remain vulnerable when Harris and Henderson are on the field.