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Westerman making up for Jets' Gholston gaffe on draft day

<br />Now, it is up to Jamaal Westerman, an undrafted free agent two years ago, to step into the void left by the former first round pick

This time next week, the Jets will be celebrating their first-round pick, most likely proclaiming the player taken as a “difference-maker” who can get the team over the top and into the franchise’s second ever Super Bowl appearance.

If history is any gauge, the Jets, picking at No. 30, will say they were shocked that a player they had high on their draft board fell to them so late in the round. Everyone will be all smiles.

It was the same lines coming from this franchise three years ago when the Jets used the sixth overall pick on Ohio State linebacker Vernon Gholston, a player who had fantastic numbers at the NFL combine that the Jets tried to convert into a defensive end. Late this past February, Gholston was cut by the Jets after three underachieving years where he failed to fit in at linebacker or defensive end. Gholston generated just 42 tackles during his time with the Jets and no sacks. He was inactive for all three playoff games.

But while Gholston was drafted with much clout and fanfare, the Jets think they might have his replacement and this one is a player whose name wasn’t called from the podium during the NFL draft.

Now, it is up to Jamaal Westerman, an undrafted free agent two years ago, to step into the void left by the former first round pick. Westerman, who has made just 20 appearances in his last two years with the team, was often behind Gholston on the depth chart as the Jets felt compelled to play their first-round pick who was hauling in $5.4 million last year.

“I think the coaches have a lot of trust in me right now. I’ve proven that – that I can perform on special teams and when in the rotation,” Westerman told Metro. “I’ve proven that I’m not a rookie anymore.”

Westerman now has the real chance to get into the rotation. The irony is that after blowing a first-round pick on Gholston, it will be the undrafted Westerman who impressed in training camp as a rookie in 2009, who might just fill out the Jets rotation.

Westerman has spent the offseason working out at TEST Sports Clubs in Martinsville, N.J. along with teammates Bart Scott and Vlad Ducasse. He has added five pounds of muscle since the season ended and he is now up to 255 pounds. He says his position will be outside linebacker next year though he could also seem some time with his hands down as a defensive end in the 3-4.

“I kind of approach this offseason as it is my time to step up, to prove myself, to be that player that the Jets need,” Westerman said. “It isn’t about me replacing this player or that player. It isn’t a specific opportunity, it is just my time to step up. It is my chance. I want to be that guy in the rotation.”

 
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