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An early look at the candidates for the 2019 Jets opening day 53 man roster (offense and special teams)

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It’s June, how can I be wrong?

NFL: Chicago Bears at San Diego Chargers Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

It’s June so it’s the natural time to check out the 53 man roster. Not really, but let’s take a look at what we have right now and rate how likely it is each player will be there come the fall. Of course things are going to change, and some slots will be left open for players who will arrive at a later date.

Offense:

Quarterback

The QB position is the future of the Jets and is in the hands of Sam Darnold who really stepped up his game the last few weeks of the season. He was said to impress during OTAs. This team will go as far as he can take them. I look for a 2nd year jump from the young signal caller, and I believe he expects that as well.

Two spots (could be three if they feel the need; I don’t see the need)

Sam Darnold- 99.99%

Sam has the same chance of being here on opening day as the sun in the sky.

Trevor Siemian- 90.0%

The percentage could be higher for a guy that Adam Gase himself brought on board as a backup. He has $1 million guarantee including a $750,000 signing bonus which is a nice chunk of change for a guy who no one wanted. He has a $250,000 bonus for each game played so he can make another $4 million if he plays in every game. Sadly Siemian was said to be one of the players who underperformed during OTAs.

The other two QB’s on the roster are Davis Webb and Luke Falk. Webb was said to struggle at OTAs, and Falk knows Gase’s system from his time in Miami. My guess is that they both will be cut, and Falk will end up on the practice squad because no one will want to spend a roster spot on him. Falk will be an insurance policy in case someone gets injured.

Someone that is not on this roster- 5% You never say never, but I don’t anticipate any movement in this group.

Running Back

The running back position should be a strength in this offense, and the play of Le’Veon Bell must equal his past years so he can take some of the weight off the shoulders of Sam Darnold. If the Jets can run the ball effectively it should make things easier for the passing game as well.

Four spots

Le’Veon Bell- 99.0% the workhorse Running back, enough said

Ty Montgomery- 85% Montgomery has looked good in OTAs and is a versatile player who can be effective in short doses. Plus he has only a $735,000 cap hit for possible high production if anything happens to Bell. Montgomery was said to be one of the players who stood out during OTAs.

Bilal Powell- 70% Powell is also a versatile back who can be a lead back for an extended period of time. A problem could emerge for him if the GM wants to carry some younger players or another veteran becomes available, Powell’s roster spot could be in jeopardy then. Jets fans know and appreciate Powell’s talents, but this GM/Coach have no connection to him. Add to that Powell is coming off a severe injury and likely has a limited shelf life left in the NFL Powell’s cap number is the same as Montgomery’s so the Jets are getting two good veterans at a discounted price.

Elijah McGuire- 50% McGuire has a leg up on Cannon, Henderson, and Moore because he is more versatile and has a better pro track record than the other three. That is if the Jets even keep four RBs. They could keep three and place two on the practice squad to open up another roster spot. In the end none of the last four RBs has any ties to this GM/Coach, and it will be the best man wins of the four.

Trenton Cannon- 0% Cannon showed some decent skills as a rookie but he had only a 3 yard average on 38 rushing attempts which is poor. (The line did him no favors either.) He caught 68% of his targets which is OK, but he wasn’t running real routes, just dump offs and screens. He would make a great practice squad player who could be called up at the first injury.

Jalin Moore- 7% Moore is coming off a frightening injury so was not able to show his skills at the Combine. He does have a powerful running style with good balance and a slasher’s ability. If he is not 100% the Jets could opt to place him on the PUP list and work with him all year. It just depends what they think of him. He could also be the first back brought to the practice squad after Cannon (if he is there) comes to the big club.

DeAngelo Henderson- 6% A diminutive RB at 5’ 7” 208 lbs Henderson was with Denver in 2017 and the Jets (as a late year call up) last year. He has 9 rushes and 2 receptions in two years. He will be fortunate to make the practice squad out of camp. He could join the squad later in the year as injuries take their toll.

Valentine Holmes- 0.1% Holmes showed good speed with a 4.45/40 as an international pathway program participant. He is from Australia, and while he may know how to cook shrimp on the barbie he is a neophyte in all things NFL. His roster spot is secure until the end of training camp. He has that long to show a lot. Good luck.

Someone not on this roster- 10% I don’t see another player becoming available that would give you vastly more upside than what we have. Again you never say never.

Wide Receiver

There are no superstar receivers on this roster, but the top 3 players are a decent group and can make some noise in the passing game. If we can have another receiver step up and make some plays it should help the entire squad as a whole.

Six spots (could be seven if they need them)

Robby Anderson- 90% The big play guy on the team, he is the field stretching downfield threat. He could have a big year if the offense starts to click. Also he is playing for a contract in 2020 so he is going to play like his hair is on fire.

Quincy Enunwa- 80% Quincy will be the other outside receiver opposite Robby. He is used to playing mostly in the slot so it’s kind of new to be outside on most plays. Look for a lot of slants and mid level routes.

Jamison Crowder- 99.9% Crowder got a 3/year $28.5 million contract with $17 million guaranteed so he is going to be here unless he somehow disappears into witness protection. Crowder could have a big year with his ability to get open quick and a leaky offensive line.

Josh Bellamy- 90% The last parting gift Mike Maccagnan gave to the Jets was the contract hegave to career journeyman Josh Bellamy. A seven year veteran who averaged under 11 receptions a year, a two year $5 million contract with a $1.82 million signing bonus and $2.75 million in guarantees. He still could be cut but he keeps his guaranteed money and leaves $930,000 in dead money for no production if you do. Maybe you can explain to me what the heck Maccagnan was thinking.

After these four players the future looks murky, and there is a decent chance a receiver could be added of the waiver wire; let’s say a 70% chance. Yet I will try an handicap the rest of the receivers to see who we might keep.

Deonte Thompson- 30% He is a 30 year old UDFA receiver who has a total of 94 receptions in 10 years bouncing around the NFL. Thompson has a $645,000 cap hit (none guaranteed) and has never made more than 38 receptions in a single year. He had (supposedly) 4.31/40 speed at his pro day but he does not have near that speed now. His roster spot will depend on his performance in camp and how many other receivers get picked up off the waiver wire.

Charone Peake- 10% Peake has three receptions for 28 total yards in the last two years combined. He played just 89 offensive snaps in 2019 as compared to 241 special teams snaps but made only 4 tackles. He had 4.45/40 speed coming out of Clemson but has little to show for it. If he didn’t play special teams his percentage to make the team would be zero.

Deontay Burnett- 10% Burnett played in 5 games in 2018 with 10 receptions for 143 scoreless yards. He had 4.70/40 speed coming out of USC and would not even be in consideration to be on the team without a college connection to Sam Darnold. He is a long shot to make the team but could be a practice squad candidate for emergencies.

Greg Dortch- 60% Dortch is a diminutive receiver who excels at special teams. He looks to be (as of now) the primary punt returner and a backup slot receiver. Dortch is a tough little guy and should be a popular guy among the players and fans.

Tim White- 10% White was picked up from Baltimore where he played last year. He had 9 receptions in 3 games for 75 scoreless yards. He did return 9 punts (8.3 avg) and 6 kickoffs (22.5 avg) so his stay with the Jets may ride on how well he does on the special teams.

J.J. Jones- 8% Jones is another smaller receiver (5’ 10” 174 lbs) who played 4 games last year and had one catch for three yards. He also returned 5 punts (4.8 ave) and 3 kickoffs (23.0 avg). He would have to do something very special in a preseason game while also turning heads in camp to make the team. He only had 24 receptions for 278 scoreless yards as a senior at West Georgia.

Quadree Henderson- 10% Played at Pitt and ran 4.50/40 at his pro day. The Jets picked him up when the Giants let him go. He did not catch a pass last year but returned 9 punts (7.6 avg) and returned 5 kickoffs (22.4 avg). He is another guy who would need a great camp to have a shot at even a practice squad invitation.

Jeff Smith- 30% Smith played 4 years at Boston College but was the starting QB his freshman year (due to injury) for 9 games. He was so bad they had him switch positions to WR as a sophomore. Smith is a gadget guy who many OC’s like to have around. He is still learning as a receiver but has a cannon for an arm and may be the fastest player on the Jets. He ran jet sweeps and slants and threw the ball 11 times as a receiver.

Smith was not invited to the Combine but had a very nice pro day with a 4.34/40, 36.5” vert, 127” broad jump, 4.06 short shuttle and a 6.87 3-cone drill. To put those numbers into perspective the 40, short shuttle and 3-cone would all have been the best #’s for the RB group. Among wide receivers his short shuttle was 3rd best, 3-cone was tied for 4th best, and his 40 was 5th best. Plus he did 15 reps on the bench so he is not some tiny weak player. He is 6’ 0” 191 lbs, but he has to work on securing the catch. There are too many dropped passes. If he doesn’t make the team that would be the #1 reason.

His career numbers (not including his stint as QB) are 65 carries for 448 yards and 9 TDs, 72 receptions for 1078 yards and 9 TDs and 7 for 11 passing for 151 yards and 4 TDs. He is a guy who makes a defense nervous because he can do almost anything once he touches the ball. An inventive OC would have fun scheming plays for him. He is a player who can be lightning in a bottle and score any time he he has the ball in his hands.

In the end though he is a UDFA and needs to turn heads to make the team. GMs are reluctant to put UDFA players on the roster over drafted players because it makes them look like they did a poor job of scouting. This year is different though because the guy who drafted all these players isn’t here, and we have no idea what Joe Douglas thought about any of these players while at Philly.

Someone not on this roster- 15% There is a chance someone could shake free but he would need to learn the offense and get on the same page with Sam Darnold, but I don’t foresee that happening.

Tight Ends

Chris Herndon really stepped up his game, and I envision he and Sam as a potent duo for years to come. The Jets could use a secondary target from the TE position so we shall see how things unfold.

3 spots

Chris Herndon- 99% Herndon really came on last year after a slow start (5 receptions for 47 yards through the first 5 games) while catching nearly 70% of his targets. If the Jets develop a more diverse offense in 2019, Herndon could emerge as a big play threat. He is one of the building blocks and a cornerstone of the young Jets nucleus.

Daniel Brown- 70% Brown is a 4 year vet who has only $150,000 in guarantees in his veteran’s minimum contract. He only has 35 career receptions in 42 career games, but he was said to be a player who stood out during OTAs. He can be easily replaced, but with his team friendly contract and good showing so far the Jets would have to find a player with a much higher ceiling to replace Brown.

Trevon Wesco- 80% Wesco is on a 4th round rookie contract which makes him very affordable, and he is also the closest thing we have to a blocking tight end (once Eric Tomlinson is released). Even though he is a Mike Maccagnan pick, Wesco would have to fall flat on his face to not make the team. Besides, come on; he’s Wesco.

Eric Tomlinson- 10% Tomlinson has started 29 of 36 games played but has a total of 16 career receptions with a single TD. His catch rate of 64% is poor considering he was not running the seam. He was just catching dump off passes. I actually like Tomlinson for his team first spirit and his lunch pail style. It is just that those traits are from a generation ago, and offenses need to stress the defense with every eligible player. If we need more blocking we can just use our swing tackle or guard to play as an extra TE. If Tomlinson is retained then it would mean that the coaches feel very poorly about the offensive line’s blocking ability.

Someone not on this roster- 20% Other than Herndon the rest of the group could be affected by another player with a higher ceiling coming aboard. Yet I don’t think that type of player will become available.

Offensive Tackle

Offensive tackle is not a strength of this team, but it is not a major weakness either. The future is precarious as both Beachum and Shell are free agents after the season. Joe Douglas is going to have to assess the position fairly quickly and decide what he wants to do with this group.

4 Spots

Kelvin Beachum- 90% Beachum has been solid for the Jets if unspectacular. His #48 rank by PFF is above average although his run blocking needs work. Beachum will be on this team unless he retires or the Jets trade him for someone better, like say Trent Williams from Washington. If he (Williams) doesn’t want to play there we will take him.

Brandon Shell- 98% Brandon Shell is coming off a complicated ACL surgery that included MCL and PCL damage. He did participate in the OTAs, but he is no lock to be ready to go full bore in training camp. Plus being only 6 months removed from surgery he may not be 100% for the regular season. It will take time for him to be ready. He was the #56 PFF tackle in 2018 (average) and was a better pass blocker than run blocker.

Chuma Edoga- 99% The rookie may not play this year but is a lock to make the team. It was nice that Maccagnan picked an offensive lineman before the 5th round, but I wondered why Edoga when Bobby Evans and Yodny Cajuste were still available. Edoga has a lot of holes in his game to fix and may need offensive line coach Frank Pollack to work him unmercifully to make his game pro ready.

Brent Qvale- 40% Qvale has made it on the Jets for 5 years now as a backup. He is a former UDFA, and it will be interesting to see how the new coaching staff values his abilities. He will need a strong camp to make the team as I am sure Joe Douglas is scouring the NFL for upgrades all over the offensive line.

Ben Braden- 30% Braden is another UDFA who is shallow on talent but offers some flexibility if he can be a swing tackle or guard. He will also need a strong camp to make the team so he better bring his A game.

Calvin Anderson- 10% He is smart kid with good movement skill but a kick slide that is way too short to play on the left side of the line. He needs to build strength but he has an NFL body. My guess is that Anderson will have to show something early in camp to make it to the final cuts. If he happens to do so he may be asked to join the practice squad where he can work on his technique while spending an inordinate amount of time with the strength coach. Depending on how the Jets’ season goes and the injuries that occur he could be a late in the year call all up if he does well.

Eric Smith- 5% Smith was signed off the Patriots practice squad late last year. He has OK size but has not seen an NFL snap yet.

Someone not on the team- 25% It will be interesting to see how Joe Douglas constructs his team this year. He has few resources to fill holes, and I’m sure he wants to increase his Draft picks in 2020 rather than deplete them.

Offensive Guard

No one in this group is completely safe other than Compton who is a good backup for the salary. The chances of any of these top tree being replaced this year is low, but it may be a completely changed group next year depending how well the do in 2019.

3 Spots

Kelechi Osemele- 80% Osemele is a former Pro-Bowl guard who struggled mightily last year in Oakland. A change of scenery should do him good, but it will be interesting to see how Joe Douglas feels about Osemele. His contract has no dead money in it, and if Joe can upgrade he will. Chances of that are only about 20% but we shall see.

Brian Winters- 80% Winters has been a whipping boy for the fans since his first game as a Jet. His contract also has no dead money and is reasonable at $6.5 Million. He has one more year left at $7.5 million so we will see what Joe does. Winters does have some rapport with Jonotthan Harrison although his PFF grade last year (62.6) was mereley average. Still it would be tough to replace him right now.

Tom Compton- 90% Compton makes a great backup, and while his PFF grade of 60.6 was a shade below Brian Winters, his salary of under $2 million is a lot better. The seven year veteran may even push the starters for playing time if he come to camp ready to go.

Wyatt Miller- 7% Wyatt Miller is a developmental prospect (played tackle at UCF) with quick feet in small areas and will need time to mature before he is NFL ready. He will need time to switch positions because he has never played inside before. The good news is it is easier to move from tackle to guard than vice versa. A successful camp will find Miller on the practice squad with time to mature. If he somehow makes the roster he had the greatest evolution as a player in a long time and/or the Jets are in for a long year.

Tyler Jones- 5% Whereas the other three guards for the Jets are well established, Jones is in need of serious technical adjustments and also needs to gain strength. He is listed as a tackle, but I doubt he will get reps there because he doesn’t have the size needed in the NFL. A good year for Jones would be to show enough at camp to be selected to the practice squad and while there work hard on his technique along with long sessions with the strength coach.

Jordan Morgan- 1.0% Morgan is from Kutztown State college and was drafted in the 5th round in 2017 by the Chicago Bears. He has yet to appear in a game. He would need to do an other worldly job to make the team.

Someone not on this roster- 15% Decent offensive linemen do not come available very often, but if one did it would be hard for the Jets to not take a long hard look.

Offensive Center

2 spots

Jonotthan Harrison- 95% Harrison has built a rapport with Sam Darnold, and coach Gase seems to like his all around game which is great for Harrison. There are scarce few options around the league and really none better than Harrison right now.

Jon Toth- 25% Toth has never played in an NFL game. He was a UDFA and signed by the Eagles back in 2017. He is not very athletic but has NFL size. He will need to show something in camp and have a extended good play in the preseason to have a shot at a roster spot.

Toa Lobendahn- 5% Lobendahn is a UDFA from USC who is more of a developmental prospect than NFL player at this point in his career. He is on the 90 man roster to see if he has enough talent to allow the Jets to spend more time developing him. A successful camp for Lobendahn end with the Jets placing him on the practice squad.

Someone not on the roster- 60% The Jets may scour the waiver wire in search of a quality backup for Harrison. The Maccagnan complete neglect of the center position has the Jets in a horrible dilemma if Harrison should be sidelined for any period of time.

The Jets could bring in John Sullivan who is 34 years old and was released by the Rams. Sullivan was an above average center as shortly as two years ago, but his play slipped badly in 2018. He may have had an unknown injury or had a situation in his life that took his mind form the game, or he just no longer has the ability to play at a high level. Unless the Jets work him out they will never know.

Kickers

Chandler Catanzaro- 80% Being the only kicker Currently on the roster is a good sign you are the man. The Jets will surely waive a player and sign another kicker for camp to take some of the burden off Catanzaro so he doesn’t have to do all the kicking. He has a $2.3 million one year contract, and Maccagnan for some reason gave him $500,000 signing bonus In 9 games in Tampa last year he hit 11 of 15 FGs (73.3%) and missed 4 of 27 extra points (85.2%). His career FG % is 83.8 so he is not going to the Hall of Fame. He is a kicker who has been on 3 teams in the last two years so it’s not a guarantee to make the roster, he will need to do well in games to make the team, like all kickers.

Punters

Lachlan Edwards- 80% Edwards was a decent use of a 7th round pick back in 2016. The last 32 games he has averaged 46.2 yards a punt with 56 placed inside the 20 yard line and has not had a punt blocked. Any way you shape is the Australian punter has done well. He is in the final year of his contract that pays him $720,000 which is the same as his competition Matt Darr.

Matt Darr- 20% Matt Darr punted for Adam Gase while in Miami (the reason he is on the roster) in 2015 and 2016. He averaged 46.0 yards a punt with 62 of 182 punts inside the 20 yard line. He was out of football in 2017 but came back and punted the last 5 games for Buffalo last year. He was not as prolific in Buffalo with 20 punts for a 40.5 average and 5 inside the 20 yard line. The weather in Buffalo may have something to do with the lesser stats, but it should be a decent competition.

They both make the same money so there is no difference who wins the battle. Usually the guy who has been here the longest has an advantage, though that might not be true with the new regime in place. When they are both on they both seem to be above average punters.

Long Snapper

Thomas Hennessy- 95% Hennessy is a big kid at 6’ 3” 246 lbs and is only 25 years old. He came to the Jets when Maccagnan traded backup safety Ronald Martin to the Colts in 2017. Maccagnan theorized that Hennessy with young legs could cover better on punts than long time long snapper Tanner Purdum. Hennessey stuck and has done a great job since he arrived because he hasn’t messed anything up. A long snapper is invisible unless he makes a mistake. Hennessy has been invisible.

Unless Hennessey falls off the deep end or someone gets a wild hair he will be the Jets snapper of balls longer than shotgun snaps for the near future.

So there you have the Jets offensive and special team possibilities. The only sure thing is some of these names are going to change in the next 3 months so it will be interesting to see how Joe Douglas manages his first roster. Will he remain sort of quiet and make few changes, riding the storm out as he assesses his team, or does he get aggressive and make numerous changes? We may have to wait a bit to find out while Joe hires his staff and scouts. The inner circle of the Jets braintrust should be burning the midnight oil as the training camp appears on the horizon.

Who says this is a boring time for a football team? This is when all the good team building stuff happens... or not.

What do you think we should do?