FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- With the Jets' defense now bolstered by young, strong bodies, coach Rex Ryan is confident the unit will be far better than its fifth-ranked status of a year ago.
"I don't want to put any undue expectations on our team, so I would expect we'd lead the league," he said with a laugh Saturday night.
The addition of defensive end Quinton Coples has much to do with Ryan's confidence. During the team's post-NFL draft news conference, Ryan said Coples and wide receiver Stephen Hill, their second-round pick, will start.
"Yes, how's that one? Yes I do," Ryan said.
"Yeah, I think it's funny, any time you draft a guy that high . . . They proved it in college, that's why you have them there, obviously. You had a vision for those players and that's why you took them. With Quinton, obviously, that's what you're looking at."
But when pressed further about Coples and Hill starting, Ryan backtracked.
"And again, that doesn't mean that 'this player' won't start or whatever," he said, adding that there are different roles and "sub-teams" that will allow him to rotate players on the defensive line. "They're going to play significantly. Is it 100 percent that it's all 16 games? It really depends on what we're in."
But the arrival of Coples -- a 6-6, 284-pound defensive end from North Carolina whom the Jets took with the 16th overall pick -- could signal the eventual displacement of Mike DeVito, who is in the final year of his contract.
Asked what role DeVito will fill with Coples on the team, Ryan didn't have an answer.
"You know, it's funny. I really can't tell you the exact role because, really -- and I shouldn't have said that about Quinton, either, because it really depends on what packages are out there and all that stuff,'' Ryan said. "I can tell you this about Mike DeVito: He's an outstanding football player, there is no question about it."
The Jets, who made a big splash in the first two rounds by drafting Coples and Hill, added speed and strength to their linebacker corps with the third-round selection of Demario Davis.
And the Jets added even more depth Saturday. They took Wake Forest safety Josh Bush (187th overall), Baylor running back Terrance Ganaway (202nd) and Baylor guard Robert T. Griffin (203rd) with compensatory picks in the sixth round, then used their last two compensatory picks in the seventh to draft South Carolina safety Antonio Allen (242nd) and Western Michigan wide receiver Jordan White (244th).
General manager Mike Tannenbaum said he is pleased with the Jets' 2012 draft class.
"He'll be a dynamic player for us," Tannenbaum said of Coples. "Stephen Hill . . . he gives us something we haven't had in terms of size and speed. Demario Davis -- I think what we like about him, these other guys, they're a little bit different than what we have. He has speed, where [linebackers] Bart [Scott] and David [Harris] don't have that as much. So I think we've complemented our team in a lot of ways."
Though experts considered right offensive tackle an important need for the Jets, they didn't select one. Ryan defended starter Wayne Hunter by saying: "We feel better about Wayne. I expect he will play better."