On Monday I previewed the defense and special teams players that I predict will make the final roster. You can read that here. The total number of players from those areas totaled 28 which leaves 25 more roster spots remaining for the offense. There will be a lot of competition for those spots, especially on the offensive line and wide receiver.
Quarterback – Geno Smith, Mike Vick, Tajh Boyd
It is clear that the Jets believe in Geno Smith. They have been effusive in their praise of the 2nd year signal caller with Marty Mornhinweg saying he will get at least 70% of the 1st team reps in camp and that it was his job to develop Smith. Smith has also been singled out for his offseason work with coaches noting that he is more decisive with the ball, has mastered the playbook and is a more confident leader. Can Mike Vick beat him out? Sure. He knows the offense from his time in Philadelphia with Mornhinweg, despite turning the ball over more than he wants Vick still has a positive TD/interception ratio and he is one of the great dual threat quarterbacks of all-time despite being 33. Will he beat out Smith? I don’t think so. Barring injury the Jets believe that Smith is better than Vick and will give him every opportunity to win the job and a tie goes to the younger player. Much like Sanchez, who went from 12 TDs and 20 INTS in his rookie year to 18 TDS and 12 INTs in year two, Smith will make that leap with the better weapons he has been given. Unlike in other years if Smith falters Vick can come in and win games which is a luxury the Jets haven’t had in recent years.
Tajh Boyd was projected to be a 1st or 2nd round pick a year ago and had a very productive career there at Clemson. He played with Rex Ryan’s son Seth so the Jets were able to scout him extensively especially getting a leg up on how Boyd fits in as a leader and teammate. I see Boyd beating out Simms rather handily because Simms is a mediocre quarterback that has a great arm while Boyd is someone who could possibly develop into a starter in a few years if he fixes some mechanical issues, learns to play under center and makes better reads. Boyd has leadership intangibles and a higher upside and that is what decides the roster spot.
The addition of Chris Johnson changes the dynamic of the Jets backfield. For one, it gives the Jets a speed back that they haven’t had since Leon Washington, and Johnson is in a whole different category than Washington. Johnson has never had less than 1,000 yards and still got there last year despite a torn meniscus that required surgery after the season. He is healthy and very motivated. The other dimension he brings is pass catching. He averages 40 catches per season and is an excellent option on screens and checkdowns. Johnson is a threat to score every time he touches the ball. Chris Ivory is supposed to be a between the tackles banger that wears down defenses and he does do that but he also has some explosiveness averaging 4.9 yards per carry in his career and having runs over 50 yards in three of his four seasons. He has hands of stone in the passing game and definitely needs to work on his pass protection to become a better all-around back but he is still only 26. Last year he had 833 yards despite a couple of nagging leg injuries. Bilal Powell is an all-around back who can carry the ball, catch the ball out of the backfield and pass protect. He makes a good 3rd down or change of speed back and has the ability to back up either Johnson or Ivory.
The final running back roster spot will be between Tommy Bohanon, who struggled both in his blocking and receiving as a rookie fullback, Chad Young, a fullback from San Diego State who hits hard and already has a buzz about him, Alex Green, who has bounced around the league for four years and spot duty with the Jets over 13 games last year when Powell or Ivory went down, and Daryl Richardson who is interesting because in his rookie year in 2012 he averaged 4.8 yards per carry on nearly 100 carries and caught 24 passes out of the backfield. then he played 2013 with a turf toe injury and his numbers dipped to 3.1 yards per carry in just eight games played although he still had 14 receptions. The Rams surprisingly gave up on him and the Jets pounced. He could be an emerging talent that can lend even more depth to a group that has seen its share of injuries, especially Ivory. I think this is the year they abandon the fullback position and look for all of their backs to threaten the defense so I believe they keep Richardson.