Position: Nose Tackle
Height / Weight: 6’3″ 325 lbs.
Age: 32 / Experience: 7
2011 Contract Status: Unrestricted Free Agent
2011 Analysis: When the Jets drafted Sione Pouha all the way back in 2005, he seemed an afterthought. Now, he’s the last man standing from the class. In what amounts to his third year as a starter, he shone more finally released from the shadow of Kris Jenkins return. While not a stellar interior pass rusher, Pouha was a central part of the Jets ability to stop the run up front. While it gets little credit in Ryan’s more glamorous blitzing system, Pouha’s success basically sets up Ryan and Pettine to do what they like best … get opponents in long down and distance situations to force them to throw. Pouha’s stat lines (58 tackles, 4 stuffs, 1 sack) are never impressive, but his ability to routinely take double teams allows for guys like Wilkerson and DeVito to make the tackles for loss.
2012 Outlook: I fully expect Pouha to sign a contract to return to the Jets. Ellis isn’t yet ready to take over the every-down nose tackle work and Pouha has demonstrated his loyalty to the Jets so far through his career. He’s been a great leader for the Jets, acting as the opposite number to Mark Sanchez’s “Jets West” work on the defensive side of the ball. He is one of the team’s biggest leaders on the defense and to lose him as well as Jim Leonhard in one year might be too hard a blow for this team to absorb.
Random Thought: The one thing that makes me question Pouha’s return is he is a very smart business person away from football. At 32 he has to realize that this will be his best last chance at an NFL payday, so the Jets might not be the one who offers him the biggest contract. Will he leave money on the table to return to the Jets?