5 Jets who could surprise in training camp
By Nathan Smith
You know all the big names already, but which under-the-radar players could make a name for themselves as the New York Jets enter training camp?
We’re just days away from the New York Jets opening up another training camp at Florham Park, and while the team has added superstars on both sides of the ball this offseason, there are some lesser-known names that could make big contributions this year.
Here are five members of the Gang Green who could carve out a significant role with a strong training camp performance later this month:
TE Trevon Wesco
In 2018, the Jets managed to find a diamond in the rough in Chris Herndon, and a year later, they may have found him the perfect Tight End partner. While Wesco doesn’t blow you away with his athleticism or his talent, it’s the hard-work and finisher mentality that will make him a hit in the locker room.
At West Virginia, Wesco was used in very shallow routes, and mainly as a blocking Tight End, the complete opposite to Herndon, and this will help the Jets in tandem Tight End situations. With Sam Darnold and Jamal Adams at the helm, the team culture around New York is seemingly changing, and an unselfish, hard-working player like Wesco will no doubt surprise everyone.
It’s not going to happen at once, as Trevon has only 28 career catches, but with all the talent on the Jets offense, he will slowly develop and become a key part of the ever-improving Jets. It won’t come right away, but with hard-work, we could be looking at a key contributor in helping the growth of Sam Darnold in the coming years.
Next: ST Valentine Holmes
ST Valentine Holmes
Out of everyone on this list, Valentine Holmes could provide the Jets the biggest surprise, as he has not yet competed in a game of football. The former Queensland Maroon and Cronulla Sharks player in the NRL made the leap after the 2018 season, and by all reports, he is taking to the game like a fish to water.
Following the failed experiment of Jarryd Hayne, many teams were hesitant about signing Holmes, but he’s been working all off-season to get into game shape. Sure, it’s highly unlikely that Holmes will be walking straight onto the team, but with the leadership of LeVeon Bell, he could be quite a valuable asset to the team.
Holmes has a high IQ for sports and fantastic athleticism, so if he can learn the game quickly, he could be a versatile player for this team. Elijah McGuire will likely take on the #3 Running Back role in this team, but if the team gets behind the former Rugby League star, he’ll be a valuable asset for the team eventually.
Next: WR Josh Bellamy
WR Josh Bellamy
With the signing of two big names such as LeVeon Bell and Jamison Crowder, someone like Josh Bellamy went under the radar, but he won’t go unnoticed by his teammates. The former Chicago Bear is a great player in many different phases of the game, and while he’s never been a #1 receiver, he could certainly be a positive for this team.
Bellamy only has 1,000 career Receiving Yards during his five-year career, with 5 TD catches to go along with it, but as a 4thor 5thoption, he will be very valuable going forward. Bellamy also plays well on the special teams side of the ball, and with his high motor and work ethic, he’ll be a big hit.
With Anderson, Enunwa, Crowder and Herndon leading the way, no one expects Josh Bellamy to step in and take over the load, but with all these weapons and some hard work, Bellamy will help Sam Darnold quite a lot.
Next: EDGE Jachai Polite
EDGE Jachai Polite
Since 2015, the Jets have drafted Jamal Adams, Leonard Williams, Sam Darnold and Quinnen Williams in the first round, but outside of that, they’ve struggled to develop their young players. That changed last year with the breakout season of Chris Herndon, and in the 2019 NFL Draft, many people believe they selected a first round talent in Florida’s Jachai Polite.
In 3 years at Florida, Polite only mustered 15 sacks, but 11 of them came in his Junior year, but it’s his tape that has scouts and the Jets excited. Polite combines power with excellent technique, and if he can work on his motor, he’ll be a big factor for the Jets offensive line. He also had 19.5 Tackles for Loss, and alongside the likes of Leonard Williams, Henry Anderson and Quinnen Williams, he has the potential to wreak havoc.
Unfortunately, the big knock on him is his motor, and coming into that draft, that is what cost Polite a shot at going in the first round. With veterans like C.J Mosely, Steve McClendon and leaders such as Jamal Adams, Polite will have all the motivation he needs, and when he gets back in game shape, he will become the game-breaker the Jets are looking for.
Next: CB Parry Nickerson
CB Parry Nickerson
With Morris Claibourne not returning to the Jets in 2019, they’re struggling for depth at the Cornerback position, and one big candidate to learn that spot is second year player Parry Nickerson. In his rookie year, Nickerson got some good playing time, and he impressed with his playmaking and physicality, but with an open position alongside Trumaine Johnson, he’ll be looking to improve in year 2.
Daryl Roberts, Bless Austin and Brian Poole will all be competing for that job, and while all 3 men will likely get playing time, it’s Nickerson that has the ability to separate himself from the pack. Nickerson’s lack of size is the thing holding him back, but he has the ball-skills and grittiness to be the #2 corner behind the veteran Johnson.
The Jets have already seen plenty from the Tulane product, but after sniffing playing time in 2018, he will no doubt be motivated to make this spot his own.