After the firing of Mike Maccagnan, these Jets have much work to do regarding 2019 roster depth. Here is an early 53-man projection going into minicamp.
Mike Maccagnan got his Jets GM job for his reputation of identifying NFL talent. But a deeper look presents a damning indictment of the current roster. Maybe that’s why he’s now unemployed.
The Jets have been losing for the better part of a decade because of a real deficit of talent. Pro Football Focus, which rates every NFL player, has not been kind to the Jets’ collective skill sets.
Le’Veon Bell, the top RB in the game in 2017, received no 2018 ratings after sitting out last season. The only Jets graded Top Ten at their position for 2018 were defenders: Jamal Adams, Avery Williamson, Steve McLendon, and recent addition C.J. Mosley.
Of the 32 teams in the league, the Jets didn’t have another Top 32 positional player beyond Robby Anderson (#25) and Jordan Jenkins (#32). Sam Darnold ranked #33, below Josh McCown. Leonard Williams, the top-rated talent of the 2015 Draft, ranked #40 DE. Newcomer Ty Montgomery rated #29 at his position, Jameson Crowder #44 at his.
The following multi-page roster projection takes into consideration 2018 talent, plus all the new free agents, draftees, and UDFAs. Expect interim GM Adam Gase to make significant moves before Week One, between O-linemen and secondary cover-men, including a possible reunion with cornerback Morris Claiborne.
* – special teams skills
x – international player (roster exemption)
z – PUP List, Injured Reserve
/ – roster battles too early to call
Next: Offensive Specialists
The serviceable Siemian did not see the field last season. Hopefully, that pattern will continue in 2019 with the rise of young Darnold.
The signing of Adam Gase’s boy Luke Falk is a bad omen for Davis Webb. The former third-rounder has yet to take a regular-season snap. At this point, one must question if he ever will.
Trenton Cannon*/ Jalin Moore*
Gase’s biggest game plan concern will be allowing Bell to be that every-down back — while also getting the most out of the different skill sets offered by this deep RB unit.
Many Jets insiders believe Cannon will make this roster. But last year’s final draft selection must establish himself as that special-teams coverage/return specialist and swing-pass weapon. Appalachian State UDFA Jalin Moore, a draft-grade slasher with special teams upside, may not survive exposure on the practice squad.
Deontay Burnett/ Greg Dortsch*
The Jets must develop wide receiver depth. The season will be a success if the Darnold-to-Anderson combo develops and often-injured Enunwa makes it through a full season. There’s a marked drop-off after the three primary flankers — the rest are quality special-teamers.
Burnett plays the same slot-receiver role as Crowder and UDFA Dortch — an electrifying 5’7″ KR/PR specialist capable of stepping in for 2018 All-Pro Andre Roberts. Dortch went undrafted due to his size. But have you seen his tape?
Next: Blockers and Protectors
Blockers and Protectors
Chris Herndon (suspended first 3 games)
Jordan Leggett/ Neal Sterling
The Jets will bring 6 tight ends to camp, with no standouts beyond Herndon and possibly draftee Wesco. Herndon faces a suspension to start the year so a fourth TE will spend time on this roster.
Jordan Leggett has shown little, and his best chance to stick is yet another injury designation. Eric Tomlinson is a “sixth lineman” like Wesco but with minimal receiving abilities. So, Brown, a 2015 UDFA outta James Madison with head-knocking special-teams skills, gets the Game One nod.
Offensive Line (9)
The Jets offensive line will be vastly improved over last year. Osemele is both a violent blocker and a locker-room leader. Harrison executed at center after Spencer Long’s broken-finger fiasco. New line coach Frank Pollard has already made an impression.
Compton and Qvale are capable reserves the Jets would prefer never see the field. Consider 2019 a redshirt year for Edoga; he and UDFA Miller may be our future tackle. For now, Miller gets the gig over guards Ben Braden, UDFA Tyler Jones, and Bears 2017 fifth-rounder Jordan Morgan.
We all now know that Adam Gase went to war over Mike Maccagnan not actively pursuing All-Pro caliber Matt Paradis. So that final spot will likely go to an as-yet-to-be-determined veteran center not named Jon Toth (perhaps Stefen Wisniewski or Travis Swanson?).
Next: Front Seven
Defensive Line (6)
Gregg Williams has a rep for developing D-linemen. Fatukasi looked overwhelmed in his rookie year. So if the coach can develop Foley — in rotation with Quinnen and 30-something McLendon — this interior D-line may be dominant. And don’t sleep on UDFAs Fred Jones or Trevon Sanders.
Gregg Williams’ diverse formations and schemes will require depth at defensive end. So unlocking Shepherd’s potential will be key to 2019. The NFL future of this iffy third-round Canadian via Fort Hays State will also help determine this Jets’ re-signing of PFF‘s #40-ranked DE Leonard Williams.
Mosley’s presence will elevate the entire LB unit; Williamson could particularly thrive at Darron Lee’s former weakside position. But Jenkins has to improve against the pass, and Coleman must grade-out better than the league’s 98th best OLB.
Rookie Polite and 2018 UDFA Luvu will start the year as situational edge-rushers. Cashman and Hewitt are, at worst, elite special teamers. The Jets may carry one or two more ILB — between the Bart Scott-ish Wint and Fresno State UDFA Alison, a 2018 Mountain West Player of the Year as a junior, yet probably left school a year too early.
Good riddance to Lee; may he become a great Kansas City Chief. Declining his fifth-year option was the only smart option. The Jets wanted to retain him in a reserve role, as another weapon in coach Williams’ arsenal, but the coaches realized that he’d sit around and mope.
Next: Secondary Coverage
Derrick Jones/ Jeremy Clark/ Kyron Brown*
Jets fans shouldn’t fret over Roberts slated at starting cornerback. Last year, he was the Jets’ best CB and one of the NFL’s better tacklers. But if they continue to take advantage of his versatility at free safety or third-down OLB, then re-signing Claiborne post-surgery-rehab makes sense on a variety of levels. And imagine if Trumaine finally lives up to that obscene contract?
Poole offers a nice upside over Buster Skrine. Every other CB spot looks up for grabs. Nickerson, a gifted cover-corner, struggled as a rookie playing nickel — so who’s to blame? Awful acquisition Rashard Robinson finally got the ax. It’s now or never for 2017 draftees Jones and Clark.
Rutgers draftee Blessuan Austin can play in this league — if his knees hold up; the ex-GM had hinted that Austin will begin 2019 on the PUP list. Akron UDFA Brown is the real dark horse; a big, smart, physical four-year starter and special teams bomber with damn impressive highlights.
Adams may one day find himself walking down on a green-and-white path to Canton. Maye must overcome his multiple surgeries and answer fragility questions. The head-hunting Middleton has ended every one of his seasons on IR.
Fan-favorite Miles likely retains the final spot based on his special-teams prowess. But don’t count out either practice squad star Brandon Bryant or Adams’ college safety mate, LSU UDFA John Battle — especially considering the aforementioned health concerns of Maye and Middleton.
Next: Special Teams and Practice Squad
Special Teams and Practice Squad
The Jets will be in great shape if they get the return of kicker Catanzaro 2017 — not of his putrid 2018 bounced between Tampa and Charlotte. Punter Edwards improves year-by-year and could be this GM’s best late-round draft pick. Hennessy has seamlessly replaced long-time, long-snapper Tanner Purdum.
S/T coach Brant Boyer will field this franchise’s most solid return/coverage squad since the glory days of Mike Westhoff. There are good options in terms of return-men, be it UDFA Dortch, free agent Quadree Henderson, or proven gunners Montgomery and Crowder. Such developments will greatly benefit Gang Green in that crucial battle for field position.
Projected Practice Squad
Valentine Holmes – x
Blessuan Austin – z