The NFL cut down day is an annual ritual where 1,100+ player’s football dreams are sent into a tailspin. Some of these players will be fortunate enough to be picked up by other needy teams. Sometimes the player is let go because he is not (or no longer) a scheme fit for his team or the player no longer has the ability because of previous injuries or age. Some teams have so much talent in specific areas that a gem can be found; it gives credence to the phrase “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”
I am going to highlight a few players who I believe are at least worth a look. The Jets are in need of talent so no stone should be left unturned in that endeavor. So Joe if you are reading this (and I know you are) here are a few guys you should kick the tires on.
Karter Schult DE Northern Iowa 6’3” 270 lbs
Schult was the Buck Buchanan award winner in 2016. He was the FCS defensive player of the year. In his last two years at Northern Iowa he had 156 tackles and 31 sacks in 25 games.
He went undrafted out of college and spent 2018 on the Green Bay practice squad. He played in the AFF during the spring and had 25 tackles, 21 QB hits, 14 TFL with 7 sacks in 8 games which got him signed by the Minnesota Vikings. He was having a great camp but the Vikings have some superior edge players and little room for a ascending talent like Schult. It was written that the Vikings are going to try and sneak him on their practice squad once he clears waivers.
These first two clips are from the 2017 East-West Shrine game. This is just a nice arm over move against the RT as he hones in on the QB. He is #93
Schult was real raw coming out of college and he was also too light (240 lbs) to hold up on the edge for a defensive end in the NFL. He has spent the last year and a half working on his technique and his weight/strength; he is now somewhere between 265-270 lbs.
Schult is an effort guy and usually plays under control, maintaining his run fits. He also has good speed for a defensive end as here he runs down a QB fairly easily.
He almost gets sucked into the line by the fake but has enough balance to stop himself and make a play. You have to imagine that a player like Schult (from a FCS school) is geared up to show scouts what he can do at a game like this. This was his only chance to shine for the scouts considering he wasn’t invited to the senior bowl or the NFL combine.
These last two GIFs are from the AAF this year. You can see that Schult is visibly larger and stronger than he was just 18 months ago.
He has a quick get-off at the snap and shows that nice arm over move but this time to the inside as he also shows improved hand usage and technique. I also like the way he doesn’t rush the play, he gets by the LT then sets himself into perfect tackling position and makes a textbook violent tackle on the RB.
On this next play he shows some strength. Schult is going up against a TE, a match he should win, but he just dominates this matchup. He uses great technique to get under the TE while pushing him back towards the backfield.
Remember these aren’t college players, these are players who are auditioning for the NFL. Watch how Schult keeps his outside leverage on the play, he doesn’t just crazily push the player back, he keeps the edge defended then attacks when the RB dives back inside. This was a beautiful all around play to dominate yet stay composed to keep your edge clean.
I just like hard nosed, effort guys like Schult who reminds me of Jared Allen when he came out of Idaho State (without the mullet) who is one of my All-Time favorite NFL players. Allen is destined to be a Hall of Famer so for me to mention Schult when talking about Allen is an honor. I would just like to see what this kid can do if given a chance.
Khalfani Muhammad RB Cal 5’ 7” 170 lbs
Muhammad is that little engine that could. He has 4.34/40 speed with great quickness. He led Cal in rushing in 2013, 2015 and 2016 but also led them in receiving and kick off returns in 2013 and 2016.
He was a 7th round pick (#241) in the 2017 NFL draft. Khalfani is soon to be 25 years old (in September). Khalfani spent 2017 on the Titans practice squad and 2018 on the Patriots & Broncos practice squads, he has yet to see a regular season NFL snap.
Here he is scoring the first TD of the preseason as the Falcons and Broncos squared off. He has quick feet and a nice burst to get through the hole rapidly.
He is a small player (only 5’ 7”) but he is a north south runner. He can make a player miss but doesn’t dance around in the hole. He would be a depth signing as he can return kicks and is very good catching the ball out of the backfield.
This next play is from the same game, he sees the DE crash down on the play leaving the outside wide open. He has great short burst speed, but lacks long distant speed; he can be caught from behind.
He is about on par with Cannon as a player because of his abilities on special teams but he might be a better receiver out of the backfield. He has also been in 3 different offenses in the NFL so he should be able to pick up the Gase offense easier than someone who has not been around the NFL as much.
This is a play from when Khalfani was at Cal; it is just a little screen pass that he does a nice job of sifting through the defense.
Again this is nothing earth shattering, just a taste of what Khalfani is capable of doing. He was the offense at Cal for a few years but will be nothing but a change of pace back in the NFL. It is nice to know that if needed in an emergency he is capable of a larger load.
This last clip is of a 4th and 6 play. It gives you a good idea of his speed and also just how much Cal relied on this RB to be their offense. A 4th and 6 draw play with under 3 minutes to play is an unusual play call.
As a 4th RB or a player on the practice squad who can give you some juice Khalfani may give you a little more juice than Cannon. He could certainly be a decent player to keep in reserve in case of injury, especially because he has kick return abilities.
Keelan Doss 6’ 3” 210 lbs WR UC Cal-Davis
Doss is a player I highlighted back in the fall as a player who the Jets should look for in the later rounds. He became an UDFA and was signed by the Raiders. Many people saw him up close on “Hard Knocks”. He is a big kid who has worked hard on his hands (catching the football) and developed into a possible outside receiving threat. He has the size and speed to excel on the outside and does well in high pointing the ball.
Here he is catching his first NFL TD (albeit a preseason TD) against the Rams. It is basically a short slant in which he takes a false step outside then crosses the face of the CB for an easy TD.
The throw is a poor one, it’s low and behind him but he makes sure of the catch (he is that wide open) and falls into the end zone. Doss can be a red zone maven with his size and ability to go up to get a ball. You would think he would get more opportunities in fade situations rather than inside slants.
Here he is back in college on a handoff. Doss is not just some tall receiver, he is a football player who can run with the ball and break tackles. Many larger receivers have poor balance and are tackled easily but Doss has good balance and is strong enough to be a force with the ball in his hands.
This ability allows Doss to be effective in all the zones as a receiver. Short, intermediate or deep routes, Doss runs the entire route tree. He can run you deep or take a hitch with equal effectiveness.
Here are two plays against Oregon where Doss is playing way outside on deep in cutting routes. He is unafraid of the safety lurking and uses good concentration to haul in the pass.
He is able to take away the depth of the corner quickly then cut inside him on both plays. Later he could use a head fake inside and blow by the corner on a double move once he has him thinking inside .
Here is a double move that turns into a corner fade pattern. Doss had run a few inside hitch patterns earlier in the game to set this up.
The ball is thrown way too short and to the inside. The ball needs to be towards the back of the endzone but Doss makes a nice adjustment while being interfered with.
I think Doss has the size and ability to develop into a decent receiver given time. The Jets currently only have 5 WRs on the roster so there is space for more. Plus the Jets need to start developing players instead of buying them (Crowder) to keep the salary cap down.
Michael Jackson CB 6’ 1” 210 lbs U of Miami
Jackson is a big corner who is strong and fast (4.45/40). He often played on an island in Miami and did well in coverage usually. He has 4 career interceptions to go along with 97 tackles and 4 sacks. He was drafted in the 5th round by Dallas (#158) in the 2019 NFL draft.
Here he is in man coverage outside with no safety help. The QB sees this and throws the ball up to give his receiver a chance against one on one coverage.
This is a case where Jackson is in the hip pocket of the receiver all the way down the field. He was in such good position that he should have tried harder to intercept the ball rather than just knocking it down.
On this next play Jackson is in zone coverage across the middle and makes a nice play on the ball. He was actually going left, stopped and came back to make the INT.
He shows on this play excellent athletic ability and good hands. Jackson is not a finished product as a player and will need coaching to bring out his best. The Jets need an infusion of young talent so taking a shot on Jackson could work out well.
Here again Jackson is running with a receiver in press man coverage. He does a good job of mirroring the receiver and doing so without interfering with him.
You can see he does a nice job of getting his head turned around to see the ball and make a play on it. This is why I would take a chance on Jackson; he has the speed, the size, the good length to make an effective corner.
This last clip shows some of the strength and speed Jackson has. The Hurricanes did a lot of corner and safety blitzing, Jackson was effective doing this; he had 4 sacks and 7 tackles for loss in his career.
I really liked Jackson coming into the draft year and had a late 4th round grade on him. It does give me pause that Dallas moved on from him so quickly but I still think Jackson has the requisite talent to be a player for the Jets. He was a little cocky in college so maybe getting cut will bring him back down to earth and make him work harder at his craft. He will need some coaching but all young players need that.
I will have more players to highlight in the near future.
Tell me what you think.