When the Jets drafted Sheldon Richardson in the first round in April, it continued a recent trend of devoting high picks to defensive linemen.
Muhammad Wilkerson was a first-round pick in 2011, Quinton Coples went in the first round in 2012 and they also added Kenrick Ellis in the third round of the 2011 draft to build up a stock of young talent up front. Coples has spent some time working at outside linebacker this offseason as the team tries to find ways to boost his impact on the pass rush, but he still thinks of himself as a defensive lineman and is confident that there are big things ahead for the group.
“Why wouldn’t I be? I see the talent that we have. At the end of the day, with the coaching staff that we have the sky’s the limit,” Coples said, via Brian Costello of the New York Post. “No disrespect or discredit to any defensive front out there, but we want to be the best and make our own name.”
A man who knows a thing or two about the meaninglessness of putting words before action said that the group needs to go out and prove how good they are.
“We’ve got a long road before we can say that,” coach Rex Ryan said. “How about we play a couple of games? But they are certainly a talented group. There’s no doubt about it. You want your guys to have that type of confidence. Could it be the best? If they keep working like that I certainly hope so.”
There isn’t much optimism around the Jets right now, but they have every reason to feel good about their defensive line. That alone isn’t enough to avoid a losing record, but every rebuilding effort has to start somewhere.