Top 3 undrafted free agents who could make final roster
By Ryan Patti
Oct 31, 2015; Charlottesville, VA, USA; Virginia Cavaliers running back Taquan Mizzell (4) carries the ball as Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets defensive lineman Patrick Gamble (91) defends during the first half at Scott Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports
The New York Jets were successful in the 2017 NFL Draft, but they went the extra mile by adding a number of talented undrafted free agents. Here are the top three that could easily make the final roster.
The 2017 NFL Draft was surprisingly kind to the New York Jets. They lucked out at sixth overall and landed the best defensive back in the class in Jamal Adams. General manager Mike Maccagnan chose to double-down on safeties and grab Florida’s Marcus Maye in the second round as well. The two have the chance to become a dominant tandem to help revive Gang Green’s flawed secondary.
With 2015 second-rounder Devin Smith out for the season (torn ACL), Maccagnan went ahead and quickly filled that need. He selected ArDarius Stewart out of Alabama in the third and Chad Hansen out of Cal in the fourth. Tight end Jordan Leggett, outside linebacker Dylan Donahue, running back Elijah McGuire and cornerbacks Jeremy Clark and Derrick Jones round out the rest of New York’s draftees.
The Jets hope the undrafted free agent pool can be just as kind. They’ve already signed 15 and more could be on the way because it has been less than a week since the draft’s conclusion. They signed two quarterbacks, one running back, two wide receivers, one tight end, two offensive linemen, one defensive lineman, two outside linebackers, two inside linebackers, one cornerback and a punter.
Is the next Damon Harrison on the way? Probably not, although this group could produce a diamond in the rough who could give New York meaningful snaps in 2017. The team has holes and they’d be willing to kick the tires on anyone. Without further ado, here are top three undrafted free agents who could make the final roster for Week 1.
Next: 3. Xavier Coleman, CB, Portland State
Sep 5, 2015; Pullman, WA, USA; Portland State Vikings defensive back Xavier Coleman (38) looks to the crowd after a Washington State Cougars turnover during the second half at Martin Stadium. The Vikings won 24-17. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
3. Xavier Coleman, CB, Portland State
Xavier Coleman was undoubtedly one of the best stories in this year’s draft. He underwent heart surgery in high school and managed to recover in time to play at the college level. Coleman has the size, skill set, and leadership to play in the NFL. At 5’11,” 190, the Portland State Viking can be used in the slot or on the outside. He started as a freshman and ended up stringing together an impressive career.
He totaled 152 tackles, 41 pass deflections, nine interceptions, six tackles for loss, one sack and one forced fumble in four seasons. The Big Sky may not be a powerful conference that generates pros year in and year out, however, Coleman is a hard-to-miss prospect. Most scouts had a seventh-round grade on him and given the value of the cornerback position, it’s strange that he went undrafted.
The Jets currently have nine corners on the roster if you exclude Coleman. He’ll have the opportunity to beat out guys in John Ojo, Bryson Keeton, Dexter McDougle and Nick Marshall who give the team minimal contribution. Morris Claiborne, Marcus Williams, Buster Skrine, Juston Burris and Darryl Roberts are locks to make the final roster barring an injury. If Maccagnan is willing to keep six or seven corners, Coleman will get his crack.
Next: 2. Patrick Gamble, DT, Georgia Tech
2. Patrick Gamble, DT, Georgia Tech
It takes a lot of talent to stand out in the ACC. Georgia Tech defensive tackle Patrick Gamble showed us what he’s all about in 2016. He finished ninth in the conference in sacks and fifth in forced fumbles. The Yellow Jacket stands tall at 6’5″, but he’s a bit undersized weight-wise at 277. He’ll definitely have to bulk up to become a respectable defensive lineman, although you have to love what he brings to the table in both run and pass defense.
More from The Jet Press
- NY Jets: Joe Thuney must be the top priority in free agency
- NY Jets: 3 trade packages for Sam Darnold that have been proposed
- NY Jets Mock Offseason: Re-signings, free agents, mock draft, and UDFAs
- NY Jets: 3 free agent kickers to target in the 2021 offseason
- NY Jets: Christian Hackenberg lands local high school coaching job
He finished college with 122 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks, four forced fumbles, three pass deflections and one fumble recovery. In a conference that sees some of the nation’s best quarterbacks and running backs, you have to appreciate what Gamble can do. NFL.com had a seventh-round grade on him entering the draft largely due in part to his speed and motor. The ideal scheme fit for him is a 3-4, which is what Todd Bowles runs.
Right now, the Jets have 10 defensive linemen on the roster. If Maccagnan keeps six like he did last year, Gamble will have his chance to make the team. Guys he can beat out are Brandin Bryant, Lawrence Thomas, Claude Pelon, Anthony Johnson and Mike Pennel. Muhammad Wilkerson, Leonard Williams, Sheldon Richardson, Steve McLendon and Deon Simon we all know are high on the depth chart. It may come down to Gamble vs. Pennel for the last spot in the unit.
Next: 1. Connor Harris, ILB, Lindenwood
Jan 26, 2017; Mobile, AL, USA; North squad wide receiver Zay Jones of East Carolina (7) runs the ball against inside linebacker Connor Harris of Lindenwood (16) during Senior Bowl practice at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Glenn Andrews-USA TODAY Sports
1. Connor Harris, ILB, Lindenwood
Connor Harris is far and away Gang Green’s best undrafted free agent. He played ball at Lindenwood University in Missouri where he was one of the best defenders in Division II history. He’s a bit small for an inside linebacker at 5’11,” 240, however, he makes up for it with his speed and great range to swallow up tackles. As we saw throughout his college career, he had plenty of them.
Harris set a NCAA record with 633 tackles in five seasons. He only played a part of 2013 because of injury. He additionally had 34 tackles for loss, 20 pass deflections, 8.5 sacks, six interceptions, five fumble recoveries, three forced fumbles and one touchdown. He even scored seven times on offense since he was occasionally used as a goal line back. Division II football is nothing like the NFL, but you don’t find machines like Harris too often. NFL.com thought he would go in the fifth or sixth round.
Next: Bryce Petty has a little Brett Favre in him
New York has a mere four true inside linebackers on the roster. David Harris, Darron Lee, Randell Johnson and Austin Calitro make up the group. Julian Stanford can play both inside and outside, although he was used in 2016 predominately on the outside. Maccagnan would be hard pressed not to keep four in 2017. Harris is old and Lee needs to stay as fresh as possible. The Lindenwood legend could rise as high as third on the depth chart if he has a good training camp and preseason.