Jets training camp is here, and there’s much to pay attention to. Here are five under-the-radar players ready to contribute — in Florham Park or elsewhere.
If new Jets coach Adam Gase plans to play meaningful games in December and January, he must get the most out of his entire 53-man roster. But this team’s thin on talent to begin with, and counted-upon ballers like Quincy Enunwa and Marcus Maye are probably one or two big hits away from retirement. So expect big moves in the weeks and months ahead.
Gase has stated that these Jets must commit to a one-week-at-a-time mentality, and learn how to face adversity. But the same could be said of the former Dolphins coach’s own checkered past.
Between Gase and new GM Joe Douglas, these Jets finally present a hard-nosed, football-first organizational mentality. It’s such a logical approach to the brutal game of football. A refreshing reprieve from the previous regime’s geek-ish reliance on analytics and Combine stats. I mean, how many late-round Patriots greats fared poorly with their dead-lifts or “40” times?
This regime holds no allegiances, so there are at least two dozen current Jets who’d be ill-advised to lay down roots in North Jersey just now. The following pages look at five exciting peripheral players ready to make Gang Green great in 2019 and beyond.
Next: Greg Dortch, WR
Greg Dortch, WR
An ascending talent building a good case for a spot on the 53-man roster. This 5’7″ redshirt sophomore two-time All-American who caught 89 passes for 1,078 yards last year for the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, could be what Gang Green thought they’d found in future AAF-er Jalin Marshall — shifty in the slot and as a punt returner.
The new staff loves what they’ve seen so far from Dortch. He could be a competent answer for the last GM’s foolish decision to not re-sign 2018 All-Pro return specialist Andre Roberts.
Draftniks projected Dortch as an early Day Three pick. But he went undrafted due to concerns over his size, so excellent value there. He may end up being the most impressive talent the team acquired over Draft 2019 weekend.
Greg is quick and elusive, and electric in the open field. Have you seen his game tape?
Next: Wyatt Miller, OT
Wyatt Miller, OT
This mammoth (6’4″ 306-pounds), nasty former baseball player started all 47 games over three seasons at both tackle positions for the highly ranked Central Florida Golden Knights. Considering that the two-time second-team All-AAC bruiser went undrafted, he could develop into a long-term solution.
While the 24-year-old may lack elite athleticism, he’s dependable, hard-nosed and has played injury-free. He offers a high football IQ, fierce work ethic, and mature leadership.
If Miller can adapt to new O-line coach Frank Pollack zone-blocking schemes, he may get shifted inside to guard or even center. Due to his solid pass protection, Miller gets the initial roster nod over roadgraders like 2017-2018 practice squadder Ben Braden, 2019 UDFA Tyler Jones, and 2017 Bears fifth-rounder Jordan Morgan.
Calvin Anderson is another enticing front-five prospect.
Next: Kyron Brown, CB
Kyron Brown, CB
Akron UDFA Brown is a roster dark horse; a big, smart, physical four-year starter who played in all 50 games of his Zips career. His minimal collegiate stats (six career INTs) reflect that no teams dared throw his way.
Brown’s a special teams bomber with impressive coverage skills. If you saw his dominance at January’s NFLPA Bowl, he already projects higher upside than any of ex-GM Mike Maccagnan’s late-round low-reward healthy scratches, be it Derrick Jones, Jeremy Clark or Parry Nickerson.
(FWIW, at press time, CB1 Trumaine Johnson is getting torched in camp by Robby Anderson, and Saints practice squadder Arthur Maulet is playing nickel with the first team.)
In short, Brown’s that field-aware, high-IQ talent that Maccagnan eschewed in favor of freakish athletes who never grasped the bigger picture (see Rashard Robinson, Juston Burris, et al).
Kyron could contribute later this season in coverage packages — especially if Darryl Roberts needs to again shift to safety, to replace blatantly talented but perpetually injured Marcus Maye.
Next: Harvey Langi, LB
Harvey Langi, LB
This 6’2” 250-lb. BYU star is a poor-man’s version of that versatile blitzing backer Trader Mike thought he’d found in Darron Lee. The converted high school RB dominated on the collegiate level with 137 tackles over three years.
Langi went undrafted, and joined the 2107 Patriots, playing special teams, as well as limited snaps in one game. In 2018, he and his wife were in a horrific preseason car accident, in which he injured his back.
The LB received a medical settlement, after which Gang Green signed him to the practice squad. Three weeks later, Harvey got hurt again, with unspecified (but likely accident-related) internal lacerations, and spent the rest of the year on Injured Reserve.
Entering his third NFL season, Langi still must improve his run coverage and tackling. But his nonstop motor and special teams abilities make him a roster contender — for the Jets, or for someone else — preferably not back with the man who originally signed him, Bill Belichick.
Next: Bronson Kaufusi, DE
Bronson Kaufusi, DE
Like Langi, a BYU standout. Bronson comes from a devout Mormon gridiron family — his father Steve was the BYU defensive coordinator, his brother Corbin plays for the Saints, and his mother Michelle is the mayor of Provo, Utah.
The incredibly dominating but perpetually injured 2017 third-round pick of the Ravens crushed at minicamp. Don’t be shocked if this 6’6” 275-lb. beast supplants Jets 2018 third-round DL Nathan Shepherd — the latter benched by Todd Bowles’ staff, and not exactly impressing new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.
Kaufusi must also beat out fellow former NFL third-rounder Tarel Basham. So the 28-year-old DE obviously realizes that his career is on the line.
The big question is — if BK does make the team, will he take snaps away from 2015 #1 pick, Leonard Williams? If so, that would be yet another indictment of the previous regime.
You see, “The Big Cat” was rated the most talented player in that ’15 draft, and he is now up for a monster contract. But in 2018, Williams ranked as the league’s 40th-best DE (source: Pro Football Focus). In his fifth season, it’s time to fulfill that projected Canton-gold-jacket promise.
The answers will reveal themselves beginning September 8 at Metlife Stadium. But first, time to put the pads on.