An oft-overlooked position on any football team is that of the fullback. The fullback is a position that is more demanding as it incorporates all of the elements of the halfback, offensive line, and wide receiver.
It wasn't until Cleveland Browns fullback Peyton Hillis' breakout year that the fullback regained its prominence and dynamism in the NFL. This week, the GWR breaks down the fullback position battle that will be underway at the New York Jets upcoming training camp.
Position Battles: Fullback
Front Runner: John Conner
As the only true fullback on the Jets roster, it is all but confirmed that Conner will resume his role as Gang Green's power back. Conner was the Jets' fifth round pick in 2010 and has received high praise from the coaching staff for his work ethic. A former Kentucky Wildcat, Conner was regarded as the top-blocking fullback in the SEC and received All-American Honors in 2009. Conner improved his blocking ability during his first season as an NFL starter and will look to be an integral part of the Jets recommitment to the running game. Look for him to resume his role not only as one of the Jets starting 11 but also as one of Rex Ryan's favorite players because of his tenacity and passion for the game.
In the Hunt: Josh Baker
Baker is unique in that his strength and receiving ability can earn him playing time not only at the fullback position but also at tight end, where he spent most of 2011 following an injury to Jeff Cumberland. With Cumberland back and likely falling behind starter Dustin Keller on New York's depth chart, Baker is left at the two spot behind Conner.
Despite going undrafted, Baker signed with the Jets last year and caught his first touchdown pass as an early Christmas present against cross-hallway rivals, the New York Giants. With the Jets fully healthy to start 2012, Baker could challenge Conner for playing time on the field but with the exception of catching ability, he is not as strong as Conner in other facets of his game.
Darkhorse: Tim Tebow
A quarterback playing the role of a fullback? Every coach's worst nightmare is seeing their quarterback at risk for an injury. The fullback is a very physically demanding position that is not for the faint of heart. With that, the position plays right into Tebow's strengths. The 2011 season saw Tebow use his legs to move the ball up the field.
Even as a Florida Gator, Tebow was considered a scrambling quarterback and not a strong pocket passer. Furthermore, Tebow has a fullback's frame. Standing well over 6-foot-3 and 250 pounds, Tebow has the unique ability to not only steamroll through defenders, but is also agile enough to juke around them. Ryan has already stated that he would play Tebow virutally anywhere on the field both on offense and defense.