Going back to school full-time has kept me much busier that I anticipated. One of the great things about being a Sport Management major, however, is that it is literally my homework to talk about sports everyday and often some interesting discussions come up. Yesterday the quarterback situation for the New York Jets was brought up and I stated that I felt Greg McElory deserved the chance to start and could potentially be a good player. He did after all win a Texas 5A state title, was named Texas 5A player of the year, then followed that by later winning a BCS National Championship game while at Alabama. (He also had a 3.85 GPA and graduated in 3 years with a degree in business marketing so he is a very intelligent young man). Where I drew so heated debated was when I followed that with the addition that I feel bad for him though because he probably played on a more talented team in college than the one the Jets currently have.
I decided I had to break it down to see just how talented the Alabama roster was in the time Greg played there and then to compare it to the current (and by that I mean injuries included so I was not counting Revis or Holmes when I said this) New York Jets roster. To gauge talent I will primarily use the round the players were drafted into the NFL or the round where they are currently projected to be drafted in 2013. This is the only way to provide any true metric of comparison of physical talent.
Running Backs: The Jets currently feature former 3rd round pick Shonn Green and 4th round pick Bilal Powell in their backfield. The Crimson Tide, in McElory’s years as a starter, featured Heisman Winner and 1st round pick (28th overall pick) Mark Ingram and Heisman Finalist, Doak Walker award winner and 1st round pick (3rd overall) Trent Richardson. Glen Coffee (3rd round pick) and Eddie Lacy (potential 1st round pick) also lined up in the back field in McElory’s time in Alabama.
Decision: Alabama by a land slide here.
Receivers: The Jets starters at wide receiver right now are Stephen Hill and Jeremey Kerley, selected in the 2nd and 5th round respectively. The reserves are 5th round pick Clyde Gates and former 7th round pick Chaz Schilens. At Tight End the Jets also have former 1st rounder (30th overall pick) Dustin Keller. While McElory was at Alabama his primary target was Julio Jones, drafted 6th overall in 2011. His other wide outs were Marquis Maze and Darius Hanks, both of whom were signed as undrafted free agents following the 2012 draft.
Decision: While Julio Jones is clearly the most talented of the bunch, the upside of Hill and Kerley coupled with the better depth and the talent of Keller gives the Jets the advantage here.
Offensive Line: The Jets feature 2 1st round picks on their offensive line in D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold, selected 4th and 29th overall. The starters alongside them are 6th round pick Matt Slauson and undrafted players Brandon Moore and Austin Howard. Their key reserve is currently Vlad Ducasse, a 2nd round pick. For the Crimson Tide, tackle James Carpenter was selected 26th overall in 2011 and Andre Smith was selected 6th overall in 2009. At center, Antoine Caldwell was a 3rd round pick, as was guard Mike Johnson. In the 2013 draft, Chase Warmack and Barrett Jones are both projected to be drafted in the 1st round and DJ Fluker is currently a 1st-2nd round prospect.
Decision: Alabama has pumped out some strong offensive linemen lately and I give them the advantage here.
Defensive Line: Both teams run a 3-4 which makes this even easier. The Jets starters are Muhammad Wilkerson, a 1st round pick (30th overall), Sione Po’uha, a 3rd round pick and Mike DeVito, an undrafted player. Their key reserves are Quinton Coples who was selected 16th overall this past year and Kendrick Ellis, a former 3rd rounder. In McElory’s time at ‘Bama, he saw Marcell Dareus, the 3rd overall pick in 2011, Terrence Cody, a 2nd round pick, Josh Chapman, taken in the 5th round, Brandon Deaderick a 7th round pick, and Lorenzo Washington, an undrafted free agent in the NFL.
Decision: I have to give the Jets a slight edge here as 2 1st’s and 2 3rd’s is just a bit better than 3rd overall, early 2nd, 5th and 7th. Its close though.
Linebackers: The Jets lineup with Bryan Thomas (1st round, 22nd overall), Bart Scott (an undrafted player although also a Pro-Bowler), David Harris (2nd round) and Calvin Pace (1st round, 18th overall). Their best reserve is 3rd round rookie Demario Davis. For the Crimson Tide a starting set of linebackers would include Courtney Upshaw (2nd round, 35th overall), Donte’ Hightower (1st round, 25th overall), Rolando McClain (1st round, 8th overall) and CJ Mosley (projected 1st round pick in 2013). Their top reserve would be projected 2nd or 3rd round pick Nico Johnson.
Decision: This one is close if you give credit to Bart Scott as a Pro Bowler but I am looking at talent level as of right now, and with 38 years of combined wear and tear, the Jets ‘backers are old compared to the ridiculous talent from Alabama. Alabama wins.
Defensive Backs: The Jets starters are a pair of first rounders in Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson, selected 19th and 29th overall respectively. Their reserves are Ellis Lankster, a 7th rounder and Aaron Berry, an undrafted player. At Safety they use former 1st rounder LaRon Landry (6th overall), 3rd rounder Eric Smith and 6th rounder Yeremiah Bell. The also have 6th round rookie Josh Bush. Alabama on the other hand has sent 1st rounders Kareem Jackson (20th overall) and ‘Dre Kirkpatrick (17th overall) to the NFL along with 2nd round pick Javier Arenas. Dee Millner is expected to go early in this years 1st round as well. 5th round pick DeQuan Menzie would round out the corners. At Safety the Crimson Tide featured 1st round pick Mark Barron (7th overall) and 3rd round pick Rashad Johnson.
Decision: In terms of pure talent and volume of it, this is another big win for Alabama.
Final Tally: Alabama featured superior running back, a better offensive line, has an impressively talented young group of linebackers and boatloads of talent and depth in the secondary. While the Jets wide receivers aren’t impressive yet, their depth gives them the edge as does their slightly deeper defensive line rotation.
Summary: While the argument that top college teams can beat weak NFL teams is always rampant, I simply chose to compare the talent level of the Alabama team that Greg McElory played on versus the current New York Jets team that he probably deserves to be the quarterback of. It is my opinion, based on the research presented above, that McElory did in fact play with better talent in Tuscaloosa than that with which he won the game last Sunday.