This idea just came into my head and I'm not entirely certain how it will go over, but I think it can spark some interesting discussion. It will involve the array of players the Jets have signed to futures contracts as of the end of the 2013 season, and which ones will have the most potential to contribute to the team in 2014. I chose to name the award after Antonio Allen because he was a 2012 practice squad member who, in 2013, proved to be very valuable. Now we all know the practice squad will probably look much different when the 2014 season begins, but this is a very early look at only the futures contracts.
Here are the candidates for the 2014 Antonio Allen Award:
Rontez Miles -Safety from Western Pennsylvania who came up in 2013 for one game of special teams action. He was an early favorite to make the team last preseason after being an undrafted free agent at what was assumed to be a very weak position for the Jets. The six foot tall Miles was second team All-American in college.
Dalton Freeman -Center out of Clemson University who also went undrafted in 2013 despite being relatively highly touted. Another first team All-American, Freeman intrigues me as he also has the ability to play Offensive Guard, and would be a tremendous signing if he excels in this role. Freeman spent all of 2013 on the practice squad.
Ras-I Dowling -Cast off from the Patriots, Dowling was a second round pick in 2011 and showed a lot of NFL promise. Dowling had, however, ended his first two seasons with stints on IR for hip and thigh injuries. Dowling would provide nice depth to the defensive backfield should he make the team, and his knowledge of the division rival is a nice asset for his resume.
Michael Campbell -Wide Receiver out of Temple University who signed undrafted with the Jets in 2011, and after a short stint on the practice squad was released. Campbell came back to the Jets in 2013 and flashed above average hands in preseason. Campbell spent most of the month of October on the active roster, but was fairly invisible.
Tevita Finau -Defensive Lineman from Utah who bounced around a couple of practice squads in 2012 after being undrafted. Finau landed with the Jets later in the season and showed enough promise to be brought back for 2013, and now 2014. Finau has some form of promise in his ability to play just about every position on the line and would provide nice depth to the best line unit in the league.
Dwight Jones -Second team all ACC wide receiver who went undrafted in 2012, but showed a lot of promise with the Texans in the 2012 preseason. Jones shocked a lot of the NFL when he abruptly appeared to retire in 2012, but is seemingly pursuing another shot at the NFL, this time with a wide receiver needy team.
TJ Barnes -Undrafted denfensive lineman out of Georgia Tech who is a long shot to get beyond the practice squad, although defensive line depth is always a nice asset. ACC Honorable mention his senior year and ACC all freshman team a few years before.
Brandon Hardin -Third round pick in 2012 for the Bears, showed a lot of promise but suffered a broken scapula in the preseason that led to his release. Hardin is a safety who also suffered a devastating neck injury in 2012, but his promise suggests that if he can stay healthy, he can be big for the Jets backfield.
Tim Fugger -Seventh round draft pick in 2012 out of Vanderbilt who did not make the Colts or Cardinals teams in the following two seasons. Fugger signed on with the Jets late in 2013 and plays a position of need in outside linebacker. All SEC Second team.
Colin Anderson -Tight End undrafted free agent from the Vikings, the Jets showed interest in Anderson following the 2013 draft. Had been rated amongst the best small school tight end prospects available.
Patrick Ford -Offensive Guard from Eastern Tennessee, was signed undrafted after the 2013 draft but did not make the team. Another position of need.
Nick Taylor -Vikings cast off who would be amongst the fastest players on the team should he make the cut, he is a capable defensive back who lost his shot with Minnesota after a shoulder injury in preseason.
Lowell Rose -Defensive Back out of Tulsa
Jacolby Ashworth -Offensive tackle out of Houston, cut by the Red Skins.