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Monday, June 6, 2011
Lockout analysis: Defensive line

By Rich Cimini

ESPNNewYork.com is providing a daily breakdown on how the lockout is affecting the individual position groups.

Position: Defensive line.

Depth chart: Mike DeVito, Sione Pouha, Shaun Ellis, Trevor Pryce, Marcus Dixon, Muhammad Wilkerson (R), Kenrick Ellis (R), Ropati Pitoitua, Martin Tevaseu, Jarron Gilbert, Matt Kroul, Carlton Powell, Lorenzo Washington.

Not under contract: Shaun Ellis, Pryce.

Players hurt most by lockout: Wilkerson, Kenrick Ellis.

Player with most to gain: Shaun Ellis.

Analysis: The lockout is robbing rookies the opportunity to train and learn with their team, minimizing their chances of making an immediate impact. Those coming from a lower level of competition in college -- Wilkerson (Temple) and Ellis (Hampton) -- will feel it more than rookies from, say, the Big 10 of SEC. Wilkerson received a playbook after being drafted in the first round, but there's a huge difference between having a playbook and having a coach around to explain it. There will be a lot of cramming once the league year begins, especially for Ellis, who is attempting to make the giant leap from tiny Hampton to the NFL.

Conversely, the lockout will benefit a veteran like Shaun Ellis, whose experience and knowledge of the system will be invaluable because of the uncertainty surrounding younger players like Wilkerson. Ellis is what Bill Parcells used to call a "hold-the-fort guy." Every good team needs a few of those. Ellis is a free agent, but from all indications, he wants to return. He played well last season in the playoffs, probably earning another contract from the Jets.