This is the time of year when 53 man roster predictions abound. With the third pre-season game in the rearview mirror, virtually all the evaluating has been done. The final pre-season game may or may not determine the fate of a few fringe players at the back of the roster. My view is after OTAs, a full month of practices, an inter-squad scrimmage, and three pre-season games, the final pre-season game is unlikely to move the needle much in determining who stays and who goes. For the most part, those decisions have already been made. So it’s time to predict what those decisions will be.
My take on this exercise might be slightly different than the usual. Often times you will see 53 man roster predictions laid out as if there are pre-set quotas for the number of players at each position. So, for example, we need at least four running backs, at least three tight ends, at least six wide receivers, and so on. The person making the predictions then goes about choosing their top four running backs, top three tight ends, top six wide receivers, etc. from the current roster to fill out the 53. I’m not fond of this methodology, for a simple reason: I don’t think this is how NFL teams go about things. If an NFL team has only two NFL caliber tight ends and the same team has seven NFL caliber wide receivers, that team is unlikely to keep a tight end they don’t believe is capable of playing in the NFL and cut a wide receiver they do believe is capable of playing. Instead, the more likely path is to keep the guys who can play and cut the guys who can’t, knowing you can always smooth out imbalances in the roster with trades or waiver wire pickups from other teams’ cuts.
The takeaway here is my focus is primarily on who I believe is most likely to be able to contribute at the NFL level if called upon, regardless if that creates a somewhat imbalanced roster. The breakdown at each position will be as follows:
Safe: These are the guys who, barring injuries/suspensions/trades, it would shock me if they weren’t on the initial 53 man roster. It may not always be about what they have shown on the field; money commitments and draft assets come into play, so even if a 2019 draft choice hasn’t played well, they’re much more likely to make the team than guys who have played at an equivalent level but don’t have any guaranteed money or haven’t been recent draft choices.
Likely: These are guys who probably will make the team, but it would not shock me if they are cut, due to age, bad contracts, or less than stellar performances in training camp and pre-season games.
Fringe: These are guys about whom I could be persuaded either way. These guys have fringe, back of the roster NFL abilities. At this level youth plays a large factor, as the younger guys might still develop into something more.
Not NFL Level: Before you get out the pitchforks for seeing your favorite underdog young guy land on this list, understand what I mean by not NFL level. These guys are not currently able to help an NFL team if called upon. They just aren’t ready. Some of them will never be ready; others may just need more time to develop. But all of these guys would be a disaster if they were currently thrust into a significant role on an NFL team. For the younger guys on this list, particularly those who have NFL measurables, the practice squad beckons. For the guys who have been around the block several years, it might be time to hang up the cleats.
With those preliminaries out of the way, here is how I see the current Jets roster stacking up.
Safe (2): Sam Darnold, Trevor Siemian
Not NFL Level (2): Davis Webb, Luke Falk
Safe (2): Le’Veon Bell, Ty Montgomery
Likely (2): Bilal Powell, Trenton Cannon
Not NFL Level (2) Elijah McGuire, Valentine Holmes
Injured (1): Jalin Moore
Safe (3): Robby Anderson, Jamison Crowder, Quincy Enunwa
Likely (1): Greg Dortch
Fringe (4): Deontay Burnett, Deonte Thompson, Josh Bellamy, Quincy Adeboyejo
Not NFL Level (3): Jeff Smith, Charone Peake, Tim White
Likely (1): Trevon Wesco
Fringe (2): Ryan Griffin, Daniel Brown
Not NFL Level (1): Eric Tomlinson
Suspended (1): Chris Herndon
Safe (6): Brandon Shell, Kelechi Osemele, Ryan Kalil, Brian Winters, Kelvin Beachum, Chuma Edoga
Likely (3): Tom Compton, Jonotthan Harrison, Alex Lewis
Fringe (1): Ben Braden
Not NFL Level (6): Jordan Morgan, Ryan Anderson, Wyatt Miller, Eric Smith, Calvin Anderson, Jon Toth
Injured (1): Brent Qvale
Safe (3): Quinnen Williams, Leonard Williams, Henry Anderson
Likely (1): Steve McLendon
Fringe (3): Nathan Shepherd, Foley Fatukasi, Bronson Kaufusi
Not NFL Level (4): Justin Alexandre, Kyle Phillips, Trevon Sanders, MyQuon Stout
Safe (3): Jordan Jenkins, C.J. Mosley, Neville Hewitt
Likely (2): Jachai Polite , Blake Cashman
Fringe (7): Stephone Anthony, Tarell Basham, James Burgess, Harvey Langi, Frankie Luvu, Albert McClellan
Not NFL Level (2): Jamie Mosley, Anthony Wint
Injured (1): Avery Williamson
Suspended (1): Brandon Copeland
Safe (5): Jamal Adams, Marcus Maye, Trumaine Johnson, Darryl Roberts, Brian Poole
Likely (1): Rontez Miles
Fringe (5): Doug Middleton, Kyron Brown, Marcus Cooper, Derrick Kindred, Godwin Igwebuike
Not NFL Level (7): Brandon Bryant, Alex Brown, Tevaughn Campbell, Dee Delaney, Arthur Maulet, Mark Myers, Parry Nickerson
Injured (1): Blessuan Austin
Likely (1): Thomas Hennessy
Fringe (1): Taylor Bertolet
Likely (1): Lachlan Edwards
Fringe (1): Matt Darr
* Note: Both Trenton Cannon and Greg Dortch would have been listed as Fringe players if they weren’t the current leading candidates for positions as returners.
This is how I see the current state of the Jets roster. There are 37 players listed as Safe or Likely. These guys are likely to comprise the core of the 2019 Jets. There are 24 Fringe players. These guys are likely competing for 16 initial spots, and even if they survive final cuts, may well be replaced prior to opening day. The other players are either injured or suspended to start the season or, in my view, are not ready for an NFL roster spot.
What about you? How do you see the Jets roster breaking down heading into the final pre-season game?