New York Jets wideout Devin Smith has played just 14 games in the past three seasons. Is he worthy of a roster spot in 2018?
It’s safe to say Devin Smith hasn’t had the professional career he wished for. Not even in the slightest. As the No. 37 pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, the Ohio State product had promise as one of the best deep threats in the class joining a pass-happy Chan Gailey offense. His drop-ridden, mundane rookie campaign was capped off with a torn ACL following the team’s Week 14 victory over Tennessee.
Smith missed the remainder of the year and 12 games in 2016. In his grand total of 14 contests, he has 10 catches on 31 targets for 135 yards and a touchdown. On Pro Football Focus, he earned overall grades of 44.5 in 2015 and 47.7 in 2016.
Getting stashed behind the likes of Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker, and Quincy Enunwa, it had plenty to do with his low numbers and grades, but he never impressed the coaching staff when he had opportunities.
Smith’s unwillingness to fight for the ball in Week 3 versus Philadelphia, his kick return fumble in Week 10 against Buffalo and his costly drop in Week 11 in Houston were three moments that stuck out in his rookie season. Head coach Todd Bowles expressed disappointment in his wideout, saying he had to ‘stop acting like he was still in college.’ He was expected to play a prominent role in the team’s offense in 2017 before he tore his ACL again in April’s OTAs.
Looking ahead to 2018, things look grim as far as the youngster’s roster standing goes. Robby Anderson and Jermaine Kearse have proved to be quite the duo in John Morton’s West Coast offense. Anderson concluded his sophomore year with 63 receptions on 114 targets for 941 yards and seven touchdowns. Prior to Josh McCown‘s season-ending hand injury, Anderson was making a case for a Pro Bowl bid.
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Kearse, on the other hand, racked up 65 catches on 103 targets for 810 yards and five touchdowns. The Jets received him and the Seahawks’ second-round pick in exchange for Sheldon Richardson at the beginning of September. At the time it seemed like a panic move to get Richardson out of town, although Kearse instantly became a key cog in New York’s rebooted offense.
Assuming general manager Mike Maccagnan retains Enunwa, Gang Green would have three guys solidified in place for the new year. ArDarius Stewart and Chad Hansen will likely stick around to make it a five-man group. The question that could loom is who gets the last spot if Maccagnan keeps six. Smith, Charone Peake and JoJo Natson would have to fight over it.
Seven is a possibility if the coaching staff feels the new quarterback needs help. If that’s the case, he has a decent chance at cracking the final 53. Otherwise, it’s hard to see him back in the building, especially since his release would save just north of $1.2 million, per Over The Cap. It has simply become too crowded at the position to guarantee Smith and his $1.9 million cap hit a place on the team.