Comings and goings at ILB

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The Jets selection of inside linebacker Blake Cashman . . .

. . . could have an impact on Darron Lee’s status.

It’s kind of ironic we are talking about Cashman in relation to Lee, because they’re basically the same size, and one of the reasons Lee might be traded or released is that he doesn’t have ideal size to stack-and-shed as a 3-4 ILB.

Cashman was 6-1, 235 at Minnesota, and Lee is listed at 6-1, 232. Cashman got up to 237 at the combine.

So in both cases, we aren’t exactly talking about guys built to play inside linebacker in a 3-4 defense, where you need a lot of body-armor to to shed the blocks of pulling offensive linemen. Cashman also has short arms and small hands which don’t help with shedding either.

The difference between Lee and Cashman is probably related to something NFL Network draft analyst Lance Zeirlein pointed out about Cashman.

“Tenacious demeanor wills him past certain blocks,” Zeirlein wrote.

Bart Scott accused Lee last summer of basically making business decisions when it came to taking on blocks.

Look, the Jets aren’t picking Cashman to start at inside linebacker. He was picked to be a backup and core special team’s player. Usually in the later rounds, a GM will ask the special team’s coach to get involved with a pick. The Cashman pick has Brant Boyer written all over it. He probably reminds Boyer of himself during his playing days, an overachieving undersized linebacker with a great motor and indomitable will.

Let’s be honest, Cashman makes Lee expendable. The Jets top three inside linebackers are starters C.J. Mosley and Avery Williamson along with top reserve Neville Hewitt. The Jets also really like Anthony Wint, a practice squad player last year who was elevated to the regular roster in December.

So with Mosley, Williamson, Hewitt, Cashman and Wint, barring injury, where is the room for Lee?

Last week, during the two days of practice open to the media, Lee wasn’t there. Why? Don’t tell me about how these practices are voluntary, not mandatory, so he doesn’t have to be there. If Lee wants to stay, he needs to be there every waking moment to show the coaches and personnel department how bad he wants to improve and carve a niche for himself on the 2019 Jets.

There were a few inside linebacker drills that took place in front of where the media was situated at these two practices. New inside linebacker coach Frank Bush was putting his players through drills and working on technique. Lee doesn’t need this work?

And as a player who was suspended the last four games last year, should he be taking days off?

Also, after watching all the film of last year, do you think the team’s new defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams, was impressed with how Lee played run defense last year? A number of big plays right at him.

It’s clearly time for the Jets to move on.

And perhaps the Cashman pick has fathered Lee’s fate with the Jets.

May 1, 2019

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Dan Leberfeld
Dan Leberfeld
Publisher of Jets Confidential Magazine. Call 1-800-932-4557 (M-F, 12-4) to subscribe. Co-host of Press Coverage every Saturday on SiriusXM NFL Radio from 11-2.

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