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Following the NFL draft, the Jets 90-man roster is starting to take shape. While GM Mike Maccagnan suggested he'll keep looking for opportunities to improve the roster, some of the main position battles ahead are starting to come into focus. In some cases, that's as a result of players they drafted, but some of them were made all the more interesting due to those areas that went unaddressed.
Obviously, there will be plenty of battles for roster spots at the bottom end of the roster, but there are also some key roles up for grabs. Let's consider some of the main ones:
Starting Weakside Edge Defender
Heading into the draft, the recently re-signed Brandon Copeland was the most experienced option to start as the outside linebacker on the weakside. Copeland was a surprise contributor last year, as he ended up starting 10 games and recording five sacks. Other than Copeland, the only options are inexperienced youngsters such as Frankie Luvu and Tarell Basham.
In the third round, the Jets selected Jachai Polite out of Florida, who figures to feature from the outset. Polite should produce an immediate upgrade to the pass rush, but may not be able to hold up against the run well enough to start at this stage. Even so, if Copeland or someone else is in the starting lineup, Polite could still end up getting more playing time if he can lock down a sub-package role.
Blocking Tight End
Fourth-round selection Trevon Wesco has a good chance to lock down the role as the Jets' primary blocking tight end. While the Jets re-signed Eric Tomlinson, who saw plenty of action in that role over the past few years, he had an inconsistent 2018 season.
Wesco has good size and length, is an effective run blocker, and has plenty of experience staying in to pass protect. What may give him the edge over Tomlinson is his versatility to also handle blocking assignments on the move and from the fullback position, as well as his potential to be more of a weapon in the passing game.
Starting Nickel Cornerback
The Jets signed Brian Poole in free agency as a replacement for primary slot cornerback Buster Skrine. However, they may also hold out some hope that Skrine's back-up from last year - sixth-round pick Parry Nickerson - can still compete for a role.
Poole has started 21 games in his career, whereas Nickerson only saw limited action in his rookie year. However, it was Nickerson's first significant experience of playing in the slot having played on the outside in college, so he may improve significantly once he gets comfortable there.
Backup Running Back
Another recent addition, Ty Montgomery, is expected to win the backup role, but he'll face some competition from two more recent draft picks -- Elijah McGuire and Trenton Cannon. The two youngsters each averaged just three yards per carry last season, although that was largely due to poor run blocking.
Montgomery, who only signed a minimum salary deal, has had some durability issues recently. So he'll need to remain healthy, otherwise he risks losing his spot.
The Jets opted not to bring in a big-name replacement for Pro Bowler Andre Roberts, although they do have several young options on the roster. Recent waiver claim Quadree Henderson is perhaps the most established of this group, although reports suggest the Jets will sign undrafted rookie Greg Dortch from Wake Forest. Dortch was considered one of the top return specialist prospects in this year's draft.
Three of the team's futures signings - Tim White, Stacy Coley and JJ Jones - also have some return experience, as does reserve Deontay Burnett. Australian rugby star Valentine Holmes, who was allocated to the Jets via the International Player Pathway, could be a wild card.
Veterans Montgomery and Jamison Crowder also have experience returning kicks and punts respectively. However, they may be considered as too integral to the offense for anything more than an emergency role.
While the Jets may not opt to run too many three-safety sub-packages, the third safety could still be a key contributor, especially if Marcus Maye can't be relied upon to stay healthy. Doug Middleton and Rontez Miles are the main candidates for this role, although each had their own injury issues last year. Middleton was actually the opening day starter, while Miles started the season finale.
Youngster Brandon Bryant, who was selected in last year's supplemental draft, could be an outside bet, while the likes of Poole and Darryl Roberts could play there in an emergency.