New York Jets depth chart: Only five new starters (for now)

Trumaine Johnson heads a group of 13 cornerbacks currently on the Jets roster. Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire

With free agency and the draft completed and OTAs and minicamps scheduled for the next month and a half, here’s a closer look at the depth chart for the New York Jets:


Note: Starters in bold

Quarterback (4): Josh McCown, Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Darnold, Christian Hackenberg

There's a new golden boy in town -- Darnold -- and that means Hackenberg is expendable. Bryce Petty, who started three games in 2017, was released last week. Darnold will get a chance to compete for the starting job, but he won't be rushed. Bridgewater is a wild card because he's coming off a devastating knee injury.

Running back (6): Isaiah Crowell, Bilal Powell, Elijah McGuire, Thomas Rawls, Trenton Cannon,

Crowell, signed from the Cleveland Browns, rates a slight edge over Powell because he's a first- and second-down back. Powell can handle third-down duties. Cannon, a sixth-round pick with elite speed, will have a chance to stick as a return specialist.

Fullback (1): Lawrence Thomas

This former defensive lineman will be better in his first full season as a fullback, but that doesn't mean he has the job locked up.

Wide receiver (12): Robby Anderson, Jermaine Kearse, Quincy Enunwa, Terrelle Pryor, Chad Hansen, ArDarius Stewart, Charone Peake, Andre Roberts, Charles Johnson, Devin Smith, Lucky Whitehead, Tre McBride

At one point in the offseason, the Jets had 17 receivers on the roster -- ridiculous. The return of Enunwa and the addition of Pryor creates good competition among the top four.

Tight end (6): Eric Tomlinson, Jordan Leggett, Neal Sterling, Chris Herndon, Clive Walford, Bucky Hodges

It's way too early to sort out this position because there are so many unknowns. The hope is that two drafts picks, Leggett (2017) and Herndon (2018), will rise to the top. Herndon will miss at least another month as he recovers from knee surgery.

Center (3): Spencer Long, Travis Swanson, Jonotthan Harrison

Long received $7 million fully guaranteed as a free agent, so he figures to start somewhere. (He can also play guard.) Swanson, a former longtime starter with the Detroit Lions, will challenge for playing time.

Guard (4): Brian Winters, James Carpenter, Dakota Dozier, Ben Braden

The Jets didn't draft any guards, even though Winters and Carpenter are coming off down years and Carpenter is entering the final year of his contract. Winters should be better after having a torn abdominal muscle repaired by surgery.

Tackle (4): Kelvin Beachum, Brandon Shell, Ben Ijalana, Brent Qvale

It's the same crew as last year. The Jets are hoping new line coach Rick Dennison can squeeze more production out of the entire line.


Starters in bold

Defensive line (9): Leonard Williams, Steve McLendon, Henry Anderson, Mike Pennel, Nathan Shepherd, Folorunso Fatukasi, Deon Simon, Xavier Cooper, Claude Pelon

Anderson, acquired in a draft-day trade with the Indianapolis Colts, could start in Muhammad Wilkerson's old spot. They added Shepherd and Fatukasi through the draft. Coach Todd Bowles said Shepherd will be part of the rotation, but it's a long way from Fort Hays State to the NFL.

Outside linebacker (8): Jordan Jenkins, Josh Martin, David Bass, Lorenzo Mauldin, Dylan Donahue, Brandon Copeland, Obum Gwacham, Freddie Bishop

After Jenkins, every spot is up in the air. Advice to the many candidates: If you want to make the team, become a serviceable pass-rusher. The defense could use a few.

Inside linebacker (5): Darron Lee, Avery Williamson, Kevin Minter, Kevin Pierre-Louis, Neville Hewitt

The Jets really attacked this position in free agency, starting with the addition of Williamson ($16 million guaranteed), who was a tackling machine for the Tennessee Titans. Pierre-Louis could push for playing time in the sub packages.

Cornerback (13): Trumaine Johnson, Morris Claiborne, Buster Skrine, Darryl Roberts, Juston Burris, Rashard Robinson, Jeremy Clark, Parry Nickerson, Derrick Jones, Xavier Coleman, Bryson Keeton, Kacy Rodgers II, Terrell Sinkfield

You think they have enough corners on the roster? Nickerson became the fourth corner drafted in the last three years; it would be nice if one of them actually emerged as a key contributor. This position has been rebuilt via free agency, led by Johnson ($34 million guaranteed), who came over from the Los Angeles Rams.

Safety (5): Jamal Adams, Marcus Maye, Terrence Brooks, Rontez Miles, Doug Middleton

No changes. It'll be fun to see how Adams and Maye develop in the second year.


Starters in bold

Kicker (2): Cairo Santos, Nick Rose

This will be an open competition, but the favorite is Santos, who was a solid kicker for the Kansas City Chiefs before injuries struck last season.

Punter (1): Lachlan Edwards

He improved a lot in his second season, but the former draft pick still has room to grow.

Kick returner (5): Andre Roberts, Lucky Whitehead, Trenton Cannon, ArDarius Stewart, Elijah McGuire

Roberts gets the early edge because he's the most experienced, but Cannon is the most intriguing option because of his breakaway speed. He scored on three kickoff returns at Virginia State.

Punt returner (3): Roberts, Whitehead, Cannon

This position has been a disaster in recent years, in part because the front office neglected it. Now, maybe, there's some hope.

Long-snapper (1): Thomas Hennessy

The Jets found a good one last year in a trade with the Colts.