The New York Jets are hoping that running back Romar Morris can finally be their answer for being a kickoff/return specialist. Here’s an early prediction on his chances of securing such a role.
After being a casualty of rookie mini-camp cuts, running back Romar Morris – who was used sparingly at the University of North Carolina – is now being given a second chance with the New York Jets. With NFL teams just beginning organized team activities, now is the time where players are awarded second or third looks, and opportunities to make an impact are open. This is where a guy like Morris can make a name for himself.
During his college career, Morris was not featured much at all as a part of UNC’s rushing attack. He barely cracked the top five on the depth chart, which would lead to questions as to how he even gets a call from an NFL team. Despite being ranked as the 26th best running back in the country out of high school by ESPNU, the best athlete in the state of North Carolina and having over 2,000 yards from scrimmage as a senior in high school, his skills did not translate in college. Did the Jets give this guy a call based on his high school accolades?
While four months before actual games begin is usually a good time to take flyers on players with a diverse skill-set, there’s a chance Morris actually could be a fit. At 5’9″ and 188 pounds, the 23-year-old has potential to make it as a kickoff/punt returner. At his Pro Day, Morris ran a 4.36 in the 40-yard dash. Maybe general manager Mike Maccagnan is onto something here.
The standard-bearer when it comes to players small in stature making a big impact on the professional level of football is running back Darren Sproles. At 5’6″ and just 190 pounds, the speedster has carved out a 12-year career as a triple threat – rusher, receiver and returner. Morris probably is not going to be the next Sproles, but it doesn’t cost much for the Jets to explore at this point.
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There is a track record of success when it comes to players of this size and they all have played a similar role for their teams.
For whatever reason, the Jets did not see recently-cut Dri Archer, who has a similar skill-set to Morris, as the right candidate to fill a role for them.
It appears Morris has been brought in as the replacement.
None of the players mentioned above have achieved some level of success as fast as Morris. The majority of the qualified players who ranked in the top ten in terms of average punt and kick return yards were on NFL rosters solely for their ability in the return game.
In today’s NFL game, the importance of the return game is amplified. The top kick returner on the Jets in 2015 finished 21st overall, while the top punt returner finished 14th. Neither of those players – Antonio Cromartie and Jeremy Kerley – are on the roster this year. The Jets may be trying to find one player to fit both roles and based on Morris’ history as an athlete, he could be the answer.