Gabe Marks could be a hidden undrafted free agent gem
By Jack Monaghan
The New York Jets head into training camp hoping to find some hidden gems from all their undrafted free agents. Wide receiver Gabe Marks is easily a player to keep an eye on.
Every year in the NFL, each team adds an undrafted free agent or two that become the darling of training camp. Last year for the New York Jets, it was wide receiver’s Jalin Marshall and eventually Robby Anderson that was the main topic of both training camp and preseason football. The only problem for wide receiver Gabe Marks is that while there’s not much proven talent at the positional group, Marks has several players whom the Jets have more invested in a step or two ahead of him on the pecking order.
Most NFL teams keep just five receivers on their 53 man roster, with a few more stashed on the practice squad (which might be the more realistic landing spots for Marks). With Quincy Enunwa, Anderson, Ardarius Stewart, and Chad Hansen all probable locks to make the Week 1 roster bearing injury, just one slot will be left up for grabs this Summer. There will be plenty of competition for that final spot with guys like Marshall, Charone Peake, and newly-acquired Marquise Williams in the mix with Marks.
But that doesn’t mean a few eye opening moments in training camp and preseason games won’t skyrocket Marks onto the final roster. In fact, we saw it last year with Anderson, who went undrafted out of Temple, and after a quiet camp, he caught fire during the team’s second preseason game against the Washington Redskins with a touchdown and 131 yards receiving. He didn’t slow down either in his next two appearances against the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles catching a touchdown pass in each from both Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty.
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Marks will likely get plenty of reps with the team’s two young quarterbacks in both training camp and preseason games.
An open quarterback competition means everybody splits the reps, so unlike most UDFA wide receivers, Marks should get to be fairly comfortable with all three signal callers, even if his time with the Jets is a short one. That chemistry should pay off well for Marks, even if it means he’s just a practice squad player.
Often times it takes time for a young undrafted receiver to find his way with former crosstown rival Victor Cruz as a perfect example. In fact, after going undrafted in 2010, the UMASS product used the annual Snoopy Bowl preseason game between the Jets and Giants as his coming out party. Cruz torched Jets defenders all night to the tune of 6 catches for 145 yards and three touchdowns, in what finished up as a record-breaking night.
However, Cruz failed to impress after his historic night against Gang Green and was one of the team’s final cuts spending the entirety of the season on the Giants practice squad. It wasn’t until the 2011 season that Cruz made the Giants roster and impacted the team in a major way. Marks sure has a steep hill to climb but the rookie has plenty of speed, and talent to make his mark in the league and perhaps down the line, be a key contributor for the Jets.