Is it way too early to do a roster prediction? Absolutely. Am I going to do one anyway? Absolutely. I was looking over the roster last night and it made me debate with myself who I thought would make the final 53. Free agency is in the book and the draft is firmly behind us and we have a rough idea of who will be going to camp. Obviously some things could change and we could sign several players between now and camp.
Something to remember: All teams will make cuts, so there is a good chance we pick someone up off the wire after he is cut at some point through camp. I am under no illusion that this prediction will be the final one.
Surprises: Without a doubt, someone who you didn't expect to get cut, will get cut. It happens every year and it's usually a veteran. You can easily see from my predictions who my veteran cut is this year.
I do have a couple of UDFA's making the roster. That may change once they get into pads and start training, but I'm basing all these on the position as it stands and the quality of the player coming in.
Near Locks: Geno Smith, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bryce Petty
Long Shots:Matt Simms, Jake Heaps
Prediction: Geno Smith, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bryce Petty
Analysis: Had we not have picked up Bryce Petty, I would be picking only two quarterbacks to go through to the season with. We don't have an elite talent here which is why I don't have anyone as locks. However Geno and Fitzpatrick are all but and so is Petty. The team have drafted him with the understanding that he is going to take time to develop, so even if he has a terrible Summer, they won't cut him. We should be calling time on the Matt Simms project and Jake Heaps is a massive long shot to make the roster.
Running Back / Fullback (4)
Locks: Chris Ivory
Near Locks: N/A
Bubble: Bilal Powell, Steven Ridley, Zac Stacy, Tommy Bohanon
Long Shots: Daryl Richardson
Prediction: Chris Ivory, Steven Ridley, Bilal Powell, Tommy Bohanon
Analysis: This is a really tough group to predict, and it's going to be extremely fun to watch. Personally I think Chris Ivory is the best running back in this group and as such he's a lock to make the final roster. I like Bilal Powell as the 3rd down back, which means it's a straight shoot out between Stacy and Ridley, I went back and forward, but in the end I went with Ridley. He wasn't at his best last year, even before injury, but I like his game. It was pretty much a toss up and I gave it to Ridley for the tattoo. Tommy Bohanon wins by default, mainly because he doesn't have competition, but I hope we find someone better through the process.
Tight End (3)
Near Locks: N/A
Bubble: Jeff Cumberland, Wes Saxton, Kellen Davis, Zach Sudfeld
Long Shots:Chris Pantale
Prediction: Jace Amaro, Jeff Cumberland, Wes Saxton
Analysis: Here is my first surprise inclusion. Jace Amaro is a lock, he showed enough last year to make me believe he's about to break out, and in a big way. I'm not a massive Jeff Cumberland fan but I think he offers a little more than the guys who got cut. In the end I went with the unknown in Wes Saxton, the UDFA from South Alabama. He's very fast, and when he is on he can be a nightmare to cover for any linebacker. He is raw and his place will completely depend on how he takes to coaching, but I think he makes a statement. Sudfeld has had chances and shown me nothing, personally I think Kellen Davis is done and Chris Pantale doesn't have enough to stick.
Wide Receiver (6)
Locks: Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker, Devin Smith, Jeremy Kerley.
New Locks: N/A
Bubble: Saalim Hakim, Quincy Enunwa, Devier Posey, Chris Owusu, Walt Powell, T.J Graham, Shaquelle Evans
Long Shots: N/A
Prediction: Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker, Devin Smith, Jeremy Kerley, Saalim Hakim, Quincy Enunwa
Analysis:This was a very difficult group to predict because in essence you have 7 players fighting for 2 spots as things stand. The top 4 are all pretty much guaranteed to be on the final roster. So why did I select Hakim and Enunwa? Hakim plays some excellent special teams and he has been one of our standouts on that squad and Enunwa still intrigues me with his speed and size, he's still raw but if he can show enough improvement this off-season, he may earn himself that 6th and final spot. If he doesn't it will probably go to Walt Powell, who's another special teams guy or Devier Posey who the management team know well.
Offensive Line (9)
Locks: D'Birckashaw Ferguson, Nick Mangold, James Carpenter
Near Locks: Breno Giacomini, Oday Aboushi
Bubble: Dakota Dozier, Dalton Freeman, Jarvis Harrison, Sean Hooey, Ben Ijalana, Brian Winters, Willie Colon, Corey Hilliard
Long Shots: James Brewer, Antonio Johnson, Brent Qvale
Prediction: D'Birckashaw Ferguson, Nick Mangold, James Carpenter, Breno Giacomini, Oday Aboushi, Dakota Dozier, Dalton Freeman, Jarvis Harrison, Sean Hooey
Analysis: Another tough group to call with several difficult decisions to be made. First of all, Ferguson, Mangold, Carpenter and Breno will be here, I'm pretty confident of that. Aboushi showed more than enough last year to warrant a spot on this roster and I fully expect him to make it. We then get a backup guard in Harrison who has a lot of talent if the effort is there and Dozier who i think has talent and can be plugged in at either left or right tackle, the backup center in Freeman who also has versatility at guard and then Sean Hooey who i've heard some really good things about. Obviously on the flip side you lose Colon who is another year older and we can do without his penalties and you lose Winters, who has been a massive disappointment since being drafted.
Defensive Line (6)
Locks: Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson, Damon Harrison, Leonard Williams
Near Locks: N/A
Bubble: T.J Barnes, Deon Simon, Julian Howsare, Davon Walls, Kevin Vickerson, Leger Douzable
Long Shots: Stephen Bowen, Ronald Talley, Jordan Williams
Prediction: Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson, Damon Harrison, Leonard Williams, Leger Douzable, Julian Howsare
Analysis: This is going to be another really fun group to watch this summer and there is plenty of competition here. Again we have four locks on the team right now and as such we probably have 9 players fighting for 2 spots on the roster. I personally don't think Bowen, Talley or Williams have the talent to force their way into this talented group. I went with Douzable as he was an important member of that line rotation last year and he does enough to keep his space. I then had to make a decision between T.J Barnes, Davon Walls and Julian Howsare, Barnes is obviously the seasoned player but I eliminated him first as I think we'll go with a real upside player for the final spot. I like both Walls and Howsare and I think they both have serious talent, I went with Howsare in the end, another UDFA.
Locks: David Harris, Demario Davis, Quinton Coples.
Near Locks: Lorenzo Mauldin, Jamari Lattimore
Bubble: Ikemefuna Enemkpali, Calvin Pace, Jason Babin, Erin Henderson, Trevor Reilly,
Long Shots: Deion Barnes, Mario Harvey, David Helton, Taiwain Jones, Joe Mays, Chris Young
Prediction: David Harris, Demario Davis, Quinton Cople, Lorenzo Mauldin, Jamari Lattimore, Ikemefuna Enemkpali, Calvin Pace, Jason Babin, Erin Henderson
Analysis:This was probably the toughest group to call. Harris is a lock and I think Davis and Coples are too. Mauldin is almost a lock and I personally rate Lattimore quite highly too as a guy who can spot several linebackers. In the end I also included the veterans in Pace and Babin, mainly because they can still do a job in pass rushing, and I like the potential of Enemkpali and if Henderson can keep it clean, he'll be a big asset. Saying that I had to cut a few guys I really like, most notably Taiwan Jones, who was a UDFA who I think has the potential to stick.
Locks: Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, Buster Skrine, Dee Milliner
Near Locks: Dexter McDougle
Bubble: Marcus Williams, Darrin Walls,
Long Shots: Curtis Brown, Greg Henderson, Keith Lewis, Dashaun Phillips
Prediction: Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, Buster Skrine, Dee Milliner, Dexter McDougle, Marcus Williams
Analysis: This was probably the easiest group, you have 5 of the 6 that almost pick themselves. So it really comes down to the final corner and that choice for me was between two players, Williams and Walls. I thought Williams was put in an impossible position last year, being asked to play on the outside against some of the best receivers in the league and while he wasn't good, he flashed some potential, he's only 24 and as a 6th corner on the team, you could do significantly worse.
Locks: Calvin Pryor, Marcus Gilchrist,
Near Locks: N/A
Bubble: Jaiquawn Jarrett, Durell Eskridge, Antonio Allen, Rontez Miles
Long Shots: N/A
Prediction: Calvin Pryor, Marcus Gilchrist, Jaiquawn Jarrett, Durell Edkridge
Analysis: It looks as though Pryor is going to be our starting SS and Gilchrist will be our FS. So as backups I've gone with one SS and one FS. Jarrett is a decent player who also offers some special teams strength. I had a 5th round grade on Durell Eskridge this year and was surprised to see him fall out of the draft. He has a lot of talent, especially when he's playing deep. I was a big fan of Allen but he's really struggled, being moved around so much didn't help and his versatility may save him but for me I'm cutting him and Miles, a player who hasn't developed as I'd hoped.
Locks: Nick Folk, Tanner Purdum
Near Locks: N/A
Bubble: Ryan Quigley, Jake Schum
Long Shots: Andrew Furney
Prediction: Nick Folk, Tanner Purdum, Ryan Quigley
Analysis: Nick Folk will make the team, as will Tanner Purdum, and both deserve that. This is the second year that Schum and Quigley will be battling against each other for the starting punter spot, I don't like either to be honest and if there is a 3rd option, I hope we explore it. However Quigley will beat him out, just like he did last year.
There we have it. My way too early roster prediction. I'm sure a lot will change and I've taken some chances, but feel free to rip this apart at your earliest convenience. If nothing else, it should create some good discussion.