Josh McCown, trio of rookies could crack New York Jets' starting lineup

Woody not buying Wilkerson's Jets prediction (1:01)

Damien Woody doesn't see how the Jets can improve from last season without a reliable quarterback. (1:01)

With free agency and the draft in the rearview mirror, and organized team activities and minicamps in full swing, here's a starting lineup projection for the New York Jets:


QB: Josh McCown: The 37-year-old McCown will win the so-called quarterback competition, based on experience and familiarity with the system, but it's only a matter of time before Christian Hackenberg is pulled out of bubble wrap and handed the starting job.

RB: Bilal Powell: He'll share the workload with Matt Forte, but the hunch is that Powell -- one of the most productive runners in the league last December -- will surpass Forte in terms of total touches.

WR: Eric Decker: He's an excellent route runner who should be a great fit in the new West Coast system, but it may take some time before he finds his groove, as he's coming off shoulder and hip surgeries from last fall.

LT: Ben Ijalana: He's not a franchise left tackle, but Ijalana showed last season he can be a competent starter. He also could start at right tackle, depending on how things shake out in training camp.

LG: James Carpenter: A former first-round pick of the Seattle Seahawks, Carpenter is the most consistent lineman on the team -- perhaps the most consistent player, period.

C: Wesley Johnson: He has the unenviable task of replacing franchise icon Nick Mangold, who was cut in February. Good luck.

RG: Brian Winters: Winters got paid in the offseason, landing a four-year, $29 million contract. He's coming off rotator-cuff surgery.

RT: Kelvin Beachum: Beachum, who was mediocre in one season with the Jacksonville Jaguars, could be moved to left tackle if second-year right tackle Brandon Shell proves he deserves a starting spot.

TE: Austin Seferian-Jenkins: He's not even a lock to make the team, but we have to name someone as the starter and he gets the job by default.

WR: ArDarius Stewart: The coaches love the rookie because he's tough, physical and can make yards after the catch.

WR: Quincy Enunwa: He's a versatile, ascending player who should improve upon last season's numbers -- if he eliminates some drops.


DL: Muhammad Wilkerson: The former Pro Bowl player, coming off a disappointing year, should be highly motivated because the five-year, $86 million contract he signed last year runs out of fully guaranteed money in 2018 and becomes a year-to-year proposition.

NT: Steve McLendon: He's one of the few players in the 30-and-up category who survived the offseason purge.

DL: Leonard Williams: The best player on the team says his goal is double-digit sacks and a Pro Bowl selection -- realistic expectations.

DL/OLB: Sheldon Richardson/Lorenzo Mauldin: Both can be considered starters because the Jets use multiple fronts. Richardson's status remains up in the air, as the team is trying to trade him.

ILB: Darron Lee: He's a terrific athlete, but you wonder if his lack of size (6-foot-1, 232 pounds) will prevent him from reaching his potential in this particular scheme.

MLB: David Harris: This could be the final rodeo for the No. 2 tackler in team history; he's 33 years old and enters the final year of his contract.

OLB Jordan Jenkins: The arrow is pointed up for this second-year player, who had a strong finish to his rookie year.

CB: Morris Claiborne: Darrelle Revis' replacement is an injury waiting to happen; the former Dallas Cowboys first-round pick has missed 32 games in the past four years.

FS: Marcus Maye: Injured veteran Marcus Gilchrist was released, opening the door for the Jets' second-round pick.

SS: Jamal Adams: Calvin Pryor remains on the roster (for now), but there's no way he will keep the talented first-round pick on the bench.

CB: Buster Skrine: He'll play the slot in nickel situations, with Marcus Williams or Juston Burris manning the outside.


K: Chandler Catanzaro: He replaces longtime kicker Nick Folk, getting a chance to reboot after a disappointing 2016 with the Arizona Cardinals.

P: Lachlan Edwards: His rookie year was subpar (30th in net average); time for the Aussie to step it up.

KR: Jalin Marshall: He's the only holdover with experience, but he has a tenuous hold on the job because he's no lock to make the team and faces a four-game suspension.

PR: Jalin Marshall: There's a "Help Wanted" sign here as well.