Mekhi Becton, Denzel Mims Will Compete for Starting Roles
Jets training camp practices will commence following the team's strength and conditioning program as players will compete on the field for 53 spots. Head coach Adam Gase believes the depth of the roster has improved, which should result in stronger competition across the board. Here are three position battles to watch throughout camp:
General manager Joe Douglas overhauled the offensive line throughout the offseason, so it's fitting to start up front. The Jets have seven new linemen - Connor McGovern, George Fant, Greg Van Roten, Josh Andrews, Mekhi Becton, Cameron Clark and Jared Hilbers - to go along with returnees Alex Lewis, Brian Winters, Jonotthan Harrison and Chuma Edoga among others. Almost all have experience playing multiple positions, which OL coach Frank Pollack described as "critical." Pollack will start the best five in Week 1, but the group needs to make up for lost time this spring because a successful OL needs chemistry.
"We don't need five individuals, we need give guys playing as one," he said. "We are the ultimate judged-as-a-unit group. My expectations right out of the gate are to develop that cohesiveness where we can execute as one and not as five individuals as we start stacking the weeks, keep improving and keeping that arrow up and never flattening out.
"There are three things from a grading standpoint - assignment, finish and effort. Finish and effort come from a player individually. The technique is really the hardest thing for a guy to master and that's usually your lowest grade on a weekly basis. That's fine-tuning and building on that on a weekly basis."
A pair of Douglas' early moves in his first full offseason as general manager were releasing CBs Trumaine Johnson and Darryl Roberts, the Jets' opening-day starters in 2019. Douglas quickly scooped up Pierre Desir in free agency after Indianapolis released him and later traded for another former Colt in Quincy Wilson, who rejoins his former Florida Gator teammates Brian Poole and Marcus Maye. Poole will once again man the slot in 2020, but who will line up on either side of him?
"The reason I like the group is because it's open competition," DBs coach Dennard Wilson said. "I told them all offseason that I don't care where they came from, what round they were picked. I don't care how they got here. Now they're here and it's wide open. What's going to happen is that it's going to create competition and the best players are going to rise to the top. Whoever the best players at the corner position are or the three or four best guys, they're going to play. If they're the best 11, 12 or 13 on the team, they'll find a package."
The Jets also added Virginia product Bryce Hall in the fifth round of the draft. Hall is an intriguing prospect with good height (6'1", 202) and ball skills as he led the nation in pass defenses in 2018, but his senior season ended in October because of an ankle injury. The cornerback corps also includes Bless Austin, Arthur Maulet and Nate Hairston, who each started six games for the Green & White last season.
Similar to the cornerbacks, the slot is in good hands. Jamison Crowder emerged as QB Sam Darnold's go-to target last year, leading the team in receptions (78), receiving yards (833) and touchdowns (6). Speedster Robby Anderson is now with the Panthers, but the Jets brought in a pair of burners in Breshad Perriman and Denzel Mims. Outside of Crowder, those competing for starting roles will be Perriman, Mims, Josh Doctson, Braxton Berrios and Vyncint Smith, among others.
"That's a coach's dream to have so much talent and competition," WRs coach Shawn Jefferson said. "It's going to be fierce competition with all those guys vying to get on the field."
Kicker is up for grabs as Sam Ficken, who connected on 70.4% of his field goals and 88.5% of his extra points in 15 games last season, will compete with former Cowboy Brett Maher. Maher has made 74.2% of his career FG attempts (63 long) and 98.6% of XPs.