With injury suffered by Jim Leonhard and free agency, there is a lot of uncertainty right now at the safety position for the New York Jets. Brodney Pool, Eric Smith, and James Ihedigbo are all free agents, and Leonhard is rehabbing from the brutal leg injury that robbed hom of the end of last season.
The odds of the Jets bringing back all three are slim. It will be an interesting decision, as Pool and Smith have different talents that make them attractive options. I think the Jets prefer Pool, although I was very impressed with Smith's play throughout the playoffs. Smith is also a stud on special teams, and Mike Westhoff loves him. Ihedigbo was one of the leading special teams tacklers, in addition to being used sparingly as a blitzer. To be honest, I don't recall ever seeing him backpedal in a game.
This is where Emanuel Cook can fit in. Cook was a hard hitter and sure tackler at South Carolina, piling up over 90 tackles in his sophomore and junior seasons. He can fill Ihedigbo's role, making plays on special teams coverage abd blitzing off the edge when the Jets bring in every defensive back on the roster at the end of a game they are winning.
Cook was a nice find by the Jets. He put himself in a position to go undrafted in 2009, having to leave South Carolina early due to academic issues. He was seen as a mid-round talent, but off the field issues left him undrafted. The Jets originally signed him as an undrafted free agent.
Cook bounced around after that, returning to the Jets after Leonhard's injury last season. He is a bit undersized, and is not a blazer in the speed department, but can be a very effective special teams player and could contribute as a blitzer or early-downs player at the safety position.
At the very least, expect Cook to get a chance to compete in training camp. If Smith and Ihedigbo are not brought back, he should have a great shot at making the team out of training camp.
I will continue to look at the safety position the remainder of this week, looking at how Smith, Pool, Ihedigbo, Leonhard, and Dwight Lowery potentially fit in.
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