In this New York Jets profile, we take a look at undrafted free agent tight end Jason Vander Laan and see if he has what it takes to make the final roster when all is said and done.
Every year I like to step away from the “hot draft picks” debate and look into the UDFA signings for the Jets to see what they may or may not have found. These young guys are often overlooked and quickly forgotten when they fail to make the team. Others will surprise and beat the odds to become stars in the NFL. What every single one of these young players have in common is that they have been working hard to make their dream of playing in the NFL come true. They will get their shot this spring and summer and the Jets will be better for it.
This year, I found Laan to be an interesting prospect. I began doing my background and quickly found that he was listed as Ferris State’s quarterback the past four years. I double checked the listing for the 2016 NFL Draft, and as I thought he was listed as a 6’3″/244 pound tight end! I began to read more and began to love this young man’s story.
Playing at small school Ferris State, Laan can only be described as a rushing quarterback. The young signal caller gathered up the awards and accolades as he ran his way to an NCAA record 5,953 yards in his career. If not impressive enough, he became the first quarterback in NCAA history to run and throw for 1,000 yards for four consecutive years. The Bulldogs went 37-9 with Laan under center.
Seen by many NFL scouts as only a rushing quarterback from a small school, Laan received little to no attention as a quarterback leading up to the draft. Laan wasn’t discouraged, and never gave up on his dream however. After the end of his college career, Laan set to work trying to learn other positions. He entered the draft as a tight end, but as reports have it, he also trained as a long snapper and took drills on special teams. Seemingly, Laan is willing to do anything to play on the big stage.
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Offensive coordinator Chan Gailey likes versatility in his players and throughout his career, has been known to get creative with his offense providing a bit of gadgetry along the way.
If Laan can stand out, he may be one of those players Gailey would love to use.
Of course, that is a long way off. Laan will need to impress and endure all the challenges that come as a rookie NFL player.
He’s a young man I’ll be keeping my eye on and maybe with some luck, he could hang around.
Either way, I loved his story and had to try to tell it. My wife tells me I’m a sucker for the underdog and she might be right. It may also explain my willingness to give quarterback Geno Smith another shot. Heck it might even be the reason I’ve suffered through decades as a Jets fan! There has to be a reason, right?
I hope you enjoyed the respite from all the top end draft debates as much as I did. Please leave me a comment below and join us as we talk Jet football! Do you think Laan has what it takes to make the final roster of the Jets? Let us know!