Finally, the off season is coming to an end and players will report to Jets camp in Cortland in 10 days. I for one can not wait to actually see some meaningful competition for roster spots and to see the 2012 Jets take shape. While there are numerous intriguing story lines this year, I want to look at some players that I would like to not only make the team, but to play a meaningful role, if not this year, then in 2013. Of course we all want to see Mark Sanchez take control of the offense and master Coach Sparano's system while squelching talk of a QB controversy, Bart Scott to show up lean, mean, and with an extra spring in his step, Santonio Holmes be a good camper, Laron Landry healthy, Wayne Hunter at least proficient, and Quinton Coples motivated, here are some of the non marquee players I am rooting for.
Josh Bush S, 2012 first of Jets 3 6th round picks; 5'11", 210 lbs, 4.5 40 yard dash. Josh did not appear on many pre draft lists, and was not invited to the combine in Indy. Yet, not only do his measurables suggest he has NFL caliber potential, his 6 interceptions in his senior year bear this out. Converted from cornerback to FS before his senior year, due to a perceived weakness in coverage skills, the interception totals demonstrates an important truth; he is often in the right place at the right time and has good hands, which is what you want in a safety. Rex Ryan was quoted after mini camp as saying that Josh can succeed in the pros if he can demonstrate physicality in camp. Lets hope so, because the Jets troubles at safety need to be addressed. I am hoping he develops into at least a sub-package type player this year.
Terrance Ganaway RB, 2012 round 6 from Baylor; 6'0", 240 lbs. Terrance rushed for 1547 yards and a gaudy 21 TDs in his senior season. This included one game with 42 carries, and his MVP performance in the Alamo Bowl where he topped 200 yards and ran for 5 TDs. He ran his 40 yd dash between 4.54 and 4.76, with the better times recorded at his pro day. Watching some highlights though, he looks faster. Simply put, in the highlights, he runs through, around and over the defense. The astounding numbers he put up last year demonstrate that the highlights are fairly representative, because one can not simply put up those type of numbers without dominating. I do not claim to be a talent evaluator, but I can not understand how this guy lasted until the 6th round. I understand the argument that opposing defenses focused on stopping RG III, but they could not have just ignored Ganaway and allowed him to put up such monster games. It sounds like Terrance was built for Ground and Pound. 42 carries in one game. That is worth repeating. I would not be surprised if he is a part of the RB rotation this year, spelling Greene, with a larger role in 2013.
Robert Griffin OL, 2012 round 6 from Baylor; 6'6", 335. Taken with the pick immediately after Terrance Ganaway, he must have done well given both Ganaway's success and that of his much more heralded namesake RGIII. He has prototypical tackle size and has played both T and G. I put him on this list as the Jets need to show some organizational ability to both draft and develop OL talent. Since 2008, other than Griffin, they have only drafted 3 OLs: Vlad Ducasse in 2010, Matt Slauson in 2009, and Nate Garner in 2008. They have to do better. I am hoping that big RG can provided depth this year and slide into either Slauson's or Moore's slot, assuming either one does not come back in 2013.
Eron Riley WR, UDFA 2011, practice squad, active for part of 2011. What do Stephen Hill, Chaz Shillens, and Eron Riley have in common, beyond all being Jets WRs? They are all at least 6'3" and run a sub 4.4 40 yard dash. That is a freakish size/speed combination, shared by a minute portion of the population, even among the rarified world of NFL athletes. While Hill is a probable starter and potential (hopefully) a star, and Shillens will likely be a back up wideout with the opportunity to get meaningful playing time, Eron's path to make the team is much cloudier. He has been on at least two other teams' practice squads, and has never played in an NFL game beyond pre-season, so his window may be closing. However, a look at highlights from his time on the Broncos last pre-season show he can flat out run. Interestingly he hooked up with Tim Tebow for long receptions in at least one of these plays. While his failure to catch on despite his speed/size combo suggests some other deficiency (perhaps a lack of physicality or bad hands, but what it actually is, I have not seen reported), lets hope that the light has turned on for Eron and he can make the team. Given the competition for the last receiver spots, he does remain a long-shot, but oooh, that size and speed do make him an intriguing prospect. Note that due to games he was on the Jets roster last season, his practice squad eligibility may be near or at its end.
Jeff Cumberland TE, UDFA 2010; Jets 2010-2011, 6'4", 260 lbs. Jeff is not a new face to Jets fans, but I put him here because he may have a chance to break out in a big way. Very fast for a man of his size, with a 4.45 40, he played WR in college. Tight ends are not normally this fast. Before he blew out his Achilles early last season, he showed flashes that he was emerging as a dangerous weapon. If he comes back healthy and improves his run blocking skills, he should have a defined role this year. While TEs in Sparano's system are primarily blockers, there is always room for a large fast TE. And with uncertainty as to whether Keller will be resigned or franchised in 2013, Jeff may emerge as a viable starter in 2013.
Ricky Sapp LB, UDFA, 2011 (Eagles 5th round pick 2010). Knee injuries have derailed what was expected to be a promising career for Ricky. Can he be a Aaron Maybin style reclamation project? The Jets may need to replace three starting LBs in 2013, so l will be rooting for Ricky to step up. If things go well, hopefully we will get two starters in 2013 between Demario Davis, Maybin, and Sapp.
These are some of the players I will be rooting for. Feel free to list your favorites and dark horses.