Jun 9, 2015; Florham Park, NJ, USA; New York Jets safety Durell Eskridge (35) during New York Jets minicamp at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
Mike Maccagnan arrived in NYC as the new general manager of the New York Jets this past winter. He wasted little time changing the face of the organization. In a very exciting offseason for the franchise, Maccagnan signed a plethora of unrestricted free agents as well as some trades to improve the make up of this roster. He then proceeded to have an excellent draft by most accounts.
Much has been written about the big name acquisitions of the off season. Still more ink has been devoted to our returning stars and future performers. I’d like to devote a little time to the lesser known guys currently on the roster that I think have a shot at making this roster when all is said and done. These players may not be household names quite yet, but if they make the roster this year, it’s my hope that they soon will be. Let’s take a look at a few of the guys I think could surprise this summer.
Next: 4. Keith Lewis
Jul 27, 2013; Cortland, NY, USA; General view of a New York Jets helmet during training camp at SUNY Cortland. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
4. Keith Lewis
The 6’1″/190 pound cornerback is returning for his second year with the Jets. Lewis spent last season on the Jets’ practice squad but will be looking to break into the 53-man roster this summer. Lewis played his college ball at Virginia University of Lynchburg.
Lewis possesses good size for an NFL corner, and showed off his speed at his pro day, boasting a low time of 4.35 in his 40-yard dash. Lewis has the size and speed teams look for in NFL corners, and has an upside that may just be enough to get him into the mix this year. The Jets possess a lot of talent at corner, so competition at camp this summer promises to be intense. Lewis is a guy fans would be wise to keep an eye on once training camp arrives.
Next: 3. Daryl Richardson
Aug 28, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Jets running back Daryl Richardson (35) is tackled by Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Jaylen Watkins (37) at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Richardson is returning for his second year with the Jets. Originally drafted by the St. Louis Rams in the seventh round of the 2012 NFL Draft, Richardson was claimed off of waivers by the Jets. The 5’10″/206 pound running back has an uphill battle to make this roster with the addition of Stevan Ridley this past off season.
He may however have an important asset that just might win him a spot. Richardson has a great set of hands out of the backfield in the passing game. Chan Gailey likes to use his RB’s to create mismatches in the passing game in his spread offense, and that may just keep Richardson in the fold. Richardson is considered a cut candidate by many fans this year, but I think he gets a shot. Keep your eyes on this player through camp, he could just surprise you!
Next: 2. Durell Eskridge
Nov 8, 2014; Syracuse, NY, USA; Syracuse Orange safety Durell Eskridge (3) tries for a interception in front of Duke Blue Devils wide receiver Max McCaffrey (87) that would fall incomplete during the second quarter at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
2. Durell Eskridge
The 6’3″/208 pound free safety comes to the Jets out of Syracuse University. Signed as an undrafted free agent by the Jets this year, Eskridge joins a very crowded competition at safety. Early reports this spring have Eskridge impressing with his ball skills, but facing stiff competition, he could become a casualty of final cuts.
Free safety has long been a position of need for the Jets, and that may be the young safety’s greatest hope. Marcus Gilchrist was signed this off season to bolster the position, but is recovering from injury. Eskridge has a real shot here to land a back up position, camp will be telling, but if he continues to impress, the job could become his in the near future. I’m looking forward to watching this young man in camp this summer.
Next: 1. Deion Barnes
Oct 12, 2013; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions defensive end Deion Barnes (18) during the first quarter against the Michigan Wolverines at Beaver Stadium. Penn State defeated Michigan 43-40 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O
1. Deion Barnes
A product of Penn State University, the 6’4″/255 pound linebacker is an interesting prospect for the Jets. Signed as an undrafted free agent after this year’s draft, Barnes will be given his shot this summer to join an ever aging linebacker corps. Barnes is not the most athletic player you will find on this Jet roster, but he is a very smart football player.
Barnes attacks the backfield with a vengeance, he reads the quarterback well, reacts quickly to screens and stays within his assignments. He projects well as a 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL and could become one of Maccagnan’s best finds in the undrafted free agent market.
Barnes may well be a long shot, but after watching him play at Penn State, I for one won’t count him out. Keep your eyes on this young man this summer, he has the upside to surprise.
There are a couple of guys I’ll be keeping a close eye on as camp progresses this summer. I think they all bring a skill set to the Jets that Gailey and Todd Bowles will be able to utilize. The odds may be great for them to make this team, but I think you can’t count them out either. They promise to make this a fun camp to watch.
Do you have a favorite “underdog” to make this year’s roster? Who are you hoping can rise up and claim a spot? We at The Jet Press want to hear your opinions so please, leave us a comment and Let’s Talk Jet Football!!