Jun 9, 2015; Florham Park, NJ, USA; New York Jets linebacker Rontez Miles (45) catches the ball during New York Jets minicamp at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
Eventually the New York Jets will be north of 90 players on the roster, but only 53 will ultimately make the cut. These top 10 players will more than likely make it.
The New York Jets are in the thick of the offseason, yet there are so many questions left to be answered. Who will take the opportunity of making an NFL roster? The Jets stocked up on many undrafted free agents with hopes of finding talent worthy enough of a roster spot.
There are so many young players on this team that will look to make their first NFL roster which will bring some immediate results to the Jets.
Without further ado, here are the top 10 players who will persevere through adversity and make the final cut.
Next: 10. Finally realizes his potential
10. Tight End Jace Amaro
Jace Amaro just a few years ago was a promising young tight end who had the world in the palm of his hand. Then the regime that drafted him was fired and he was left trying to prove himself amid a slew of injuries.
Amaro is entering a very uneven campaign in 2016 with his career with the Jets on the line. Luckily for him, the Jets didn’t really add any threats to the tight end position.
Which is a good sign at least for the short term for Amaro’s career with the Jets. Can Amaro overcome the injuries and the drops to salvage his career?
That’s the big question because general manager Mike Maccagnan didn’t draft Amaro and head coach Todd Bowles has no ties to the player. If he can’t stay out of the nurse’s office or catch the ball, he could be out of here.
Next: 9. Another tight end squeezes in
Dec 19, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; New York Jets tight end Kellen Davis (47) cannot catch a ball while hit by Dallas Cowboys outside linebacker Sean Lee (50) in the third quarter at AT&T Stadium. New York won 19-16. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
9. Tight End Kellen Davis
This is just unfortunate, Kellen Davis did nothing last season to warrant a contract extension. But that is exactly what he got from the Jets.
It wasn’t for a lack of trying though, per reports the Jets tried to improve the tight end position through free agency and the draft but were unable to do so. Davis is protected with his new contract and despite the fact he’s essentially another offensive lineman, the Jets kept him around.
He offers nothing in the receiving game and when he had his chance to win the game and potentially save the Jets season, Davis lost the ball in the lights and apparently forgot how to run a route.
So look for the Jets’ tight end position to stay relatively the same outside of releasing Jeff Cumberland this offseason. The Jets could be in for another long season when it comes to their tight ends.
Next: 8. The investment pays off
Jun 17, 2014; Florham Parl, NJ, USA; New York Jets cornerback Dexter McDougle (43) during minicamp at Atlantic Health Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
8. Cornerback Dexter McDougle
One of the infamous “Idzik-12” draft picks, Dexter McDougle dropped in the 2014 NFL Draft due to injury concerns. Those injury concerns proceeded to follow him to the NFL when he tore his ACL during practice with the Jets.
McDougle could’ve been a first or second round pick if he could stay healthy. He stayed healthy last season for the Jets and with that he earned some more playing time.
With the subsequent release of cornerback Antonio Cromartie, it appears that the door has opened for McDougle to move up the depth chart.
With cornerback Darrelle Revis getting up there in age, it’s vital for the Jets to grow their young corners so they’ll be ready when the time comes. The time has come for McDougle as he makes the final 53 and gets much more playing time this season.
Next: 7. From undrafted to active roster
Jan 1, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes running back Jalin Marshall (7) runs the ball in the second quarter against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during the 2016 Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
7. Wide Receiver Jalin Marshall
Here’s some news that won’t be shocking in the least, the Jets don’t have a viable kickoff or punt returner on the roster. Jalin Marshall is as athletic as they come and possesses the versatility to be a returner in the NFL for a long time.
Could the Jets have two Ohio State products at the receiver position? Devin Smith needs to bounce back in his sophomore campaign and he’s another player who needs to stay healthy.
This could be the year of the undrafted free agents in terms of making the Jets roster. Marshall will make it and maybe another undrafted free agent will be added to the defensive side of the ball.
Next: 6. Another undrafted free agent finally makes the cut
Oct 25, 2014; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans linebacker Taiwan Jones (34) celebrates defense stop during the 2nd half of a game at Spartan Stadium. MSU won 35-11. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
6. Linebacker Taiwan Jones
Bowles was surprised when Taiwan Jones went undrafted last season. Bowles was asked this last offseason when the Jets scooped him up, here’s what he had to say about Jones courtesy of Media Relations Department of the Jets:
“I was surprised Taiwan Jones from Michigan State wasn’t drafted. He showed some good stuff on film. He’s a thumper. He’s a pretty heady ballplayer coming in and I was kind of happy to have him when I saw him just because I thought he was getting drafted. No knock against the rest of them, but that’s what I saw, he’s one of the guys I looked at.”
Jones is a younger David Harris, a guy who is a heat seeking missile and always has his presence around the football. Jones has some issues in coverage, but with proper coaching could develop nicely.
Jones couldn’t make it on the roster last season, but this year is the time he finally gets over the hump. He’ll have a lot of tough competition, but the Jets would be wise to add him to the active lineup.
Next: 5. A local star gets his chance to improve
Aug 21, 2015; Kansas City, MO, USA; Seattle Seahawks running back Robert Turbin (32) is tackled by Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Mike Catapano (77) in the second half at Arrowhead Stadium. Kansas City won 14-13. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports
5. Defensive End Mike Catapano
This is a guy who has a ton of upside and versatility floating between the defensive line and the outside linebacking role. He was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs with the first pick of the seventh round back in the 2013 NFL Draft.
Catapano was born and raised in the New York area and rooted for the Jets when he was a kid. He saw rare playing time last season when defensive end Sheldon Richardson got injured.
The Chiefs drafted him as a defensive lineman hoping he could make the transition. Head coach Andy Reid thought he’d be better served going to a 4-3 team, but he ended up with the Jets.
Catapono has potential and Bowles loves scheme-versatile guys and that is the main reason he’ll make the final roster of the Jets. Especially with the unevenness of the Muhammad Wilkerson and Richardson contract situations.
Next: 4. Clemson star's potential becomes real
Jan 11, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Clemson Tigers wide receiver Charone Peake (19) warms up before playing against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2016 CFP National Championship at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
4. Wide Receiver Charone Peake
The Jets took a chance in the seventh round of the 2016 NFL Draft when they took Charone Peake out of Clemson. Peake according to several draft gurus, should have gone as early as the third round.
Unfortunately, injuries and opportunities are the biggest reasons that Peake never reached expectations. Though the Jets thought that he hasn’t quite hit his “peak” just yet.
It was mentioned earlier when discussing the depth of the Jets receiving corps, even though it’s better, it’s not perfect. Peake can help add an interesting piece of clay to an already talented host of characters.
Peake has the unique skill-set to step in for relief of either Marshall or Decker while also bringing some great route-running and overall play-making skills to the Jets’ offense. He’ll make the roster and be a pleasant surprise this upcoming season.
Next: 3. This quarterback isn't going anywhere
Jan 3, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) throws a pass before the game against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
3. Quarterback Geno Smith
Why is Geno Smith on this list? Well, many think that if/when quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick returns to the Jets, the first quarterback to go would be Smith.
Hopefully, the Jets brass is smarter than this because Smith is the most experienced quarterback on the roster by far. It’s a unique situation at quarterback for the Jets, if Fitzpatrick doesn’t return, Smith is most likely the starter and if Fitzpatrick does return, Smith could be off the team.
Smith has been a turnover machine since coming to the Jets by way of the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft. He has shown flashes of brilliance and consistency has always been his main problem.
If Fitzpatrick continues to play these games with returning to the Jets, Smith will get his chance to redeem himself and hopefully salvage what was once a promising career.
Next: 2. This time he makes the cut for good
Aug 21, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets defensive back Rontez Miles (45) runs for a touchdown after recovering a fumble during the second half of their game against the Atlanta Falcons at MetLife Stadium. The Jets defeated the Falcons 30-22. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
2. Safety Rontez Miles
It has been a longtime coming for Rontez Miles who arguably was the best defender in the NFL during the preseason. Despite that, Miles was the last man kicked off of the final 53.
Miles was nurtured on the practice squad and has been over the last several seasons. He got the most opportunities he’s ever had when he was promoted to the active roster last season after the rash of injuries to the position.
Miles is a leader and has turned his life around. He’s well liked in the locker room and is a fan favorite.
It’s about time that Miles makes it on the first time around. He’ll be a contributor in nickel defensive packages and be an ace on special teams.
Next: 1. The newest and biggest star on the block
1. Linebacker Freddie Bishop
Not only will Freddie Bishop make the final 53, but he will be the starting outside linebacker on opening day. Bishop has all the tools to be a dominant pass rusher in the NFL.
The Jets found a gem in the CFL and he could be just as good as linebacker Cameron Wake if not better. The Jets are in dire need of an edge rusher and Bishop with his 11 sacks last season plus one in the playoffs is that guy.
There’s a difference obviously in the talent from the CFL to the NFL, but that talent gap is more than made up for in the disadvantage that occurs in the CFL rule book.
Defensive players have to be a yard off the ball making Bishop’s 11 sacks all the more impressive. Bishop will make an impact from day one and the Jets will finally find their diamond in the rough.