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NY Jets pre-training camp 53-man roster prediction

NY Jets (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images)
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NY Jets (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)

The NY Jets’ roster will look very different in 2020 after an offseason of turnover.

The NY Jets will begin their annual training camp within the next few days, only things will likely be a little different this year.

Veterans officially reported to the team facility on Tuesday joining the rest of the organization, however, they’ll first have to undergo testing before they can be cleared to actually participate.

For now, virtual meetings are as good as they’ll get.

There’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding the start of the 2020 NFL season with no one really knowing how things will shake out. But rather than speculate on the unknown, let’s talk about what we do know.

And one thing we absolutely know is that whatever roster the Jets’ field in 2020 will look vastly different than it did a year ago.

An offseason full of turnover through free agency and the 2020 NFL Draft has left the Jets with a roster that resembles last year’s in some ways, but looks completely different in others.

That isn’t necessarily a good thing given the lack of preparation this wacky offseason will provide, but it’s the way things had to be.

Teams will be required to cut rosters down to 80 players by the middle of August, but many teams have already begun to do so. Of course, the final 53-man roster won’t be due until the start of the regular season.

But we’re going to do our best to accurately predict the Jets’ final roster heading into training camp. Le’s jump into it.

*Note: Quincy Enunwa, Josh Bellamy, Kyron Brown, and Jalin Moore will not be included as they are currently on reserve lists and will not play for the Jets this season*

Next: 1. Quarterbacks

NY Jets (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

1. NY Jets’ quarterbacks

  • Sam Darnold, Joe Flacco, James Morgan (R)
  • CUT: David Fales, Mike White

The quarterback position is one of the few positions that’s pretty cut and dry for Gang Green. Sam Darnold will obviously enter the year as the unquestioned starter.

Darnold will be looking to continue his ascent hopefully with a little more help this time around. The former No. 3 overall pick has shown steady improvement over his first two years, but will need to show considerable growth in 2020 to truly convince the Jets that he’s the guy to build around.

But while Darnold’s status was never in question, the backup quarterback role wasn’t really decided until a few months ago.

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Veteran Joe Flacco was signed in the offseason to provide adequate depth behind Darnold and while the longtime Baltimore Ravens QB was expected to miss training camp and the preseason, he still insists he’ll be ready for Week 1.

And if that’s the case, he’ll be the No. 2 quarterback to begin the year.

Behind him, fourth-round pick James Morgan will be groomed as the backup QB of the future leaving David Fales and Mike White on the outside looking in.

If for some reason Flacco’s rehab takes longer than expected, Fales might have a shot at sticking around. If not, the trio above will be your Week 1 quarterbacks.

Next: 2. Running backs

NY Jets (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

2. NY Jets’ running backs

  • Le’Veon Bell, Frank Gore, La’Mical Perine (R), Trenton Cannon
  • CUT: Josh Adams, Kenneth Dixon

The Jets changed up the running back depth behind Le’Veon Bell  in the offseason swapping out Bilal Powell and Ty Montgomery for well-traveled veteran Frank Gore and rookie La’Mical Perine.

Those three are all locks for the roster and should be featured in the offense in some way

Bell will undoubtedly be the top guy, but Gore should see plenty of use — especially early in the season — in short-yardage situations. However, Perine is the player to watch here.

The fourth-round pick figures to have a future in the Jets’ backfield and his development in year one will go a long way towards projecting what his role will be next season. Unfortunately, the lack of a preseason won’t do him any favors.

The battle for the No. 4 running back job will come down to special teams veteran Trenton Cannon and former Philadelphia Eagles standout Josh Adams.

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It all depends on what the Jets value here. Cannon is an exceptional gunner on special teams and a favorite of Brant Boyer. Adams doesn’t offer much in the way of special teams, but he provides an element of speed that Bell, Gore, or Perine don’t.

If the Jets want special teams value, they’ll go with Cannon. If they want to add an explosive element to the offense, they’ll go with Adams.

Or, of course, neither makes the team and the Jets carry three running backs. That is also a possibility.

If Adams doesn’t make the 53-man roster, expect the Jets to try and stash him on the practice squad in case one of their backs go down — something that’s very likely to happen this year.

Next: 3. Wide receivers

NY Jets (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

3. NY Jets’ wide receivers

  • Jamison Crowder, Breshad Perriman, Denzel Mims (R), Vyncint Smith, Braxton Berrios, George Campbell (R)
  • CUT: Josh Doctson, Lawrence Cager (R), Josh Malone, Jeff Smith, Jehu Chesson

The Jets’ receiving corps will look very different this year with newcomers Breshad Perriman and Denzel Mims figuring to be featured in prominent roles on the offense in 2020.

They’ll be joined by the ever-reliable Jamison Crowder in the slot to create a volatile trio of starting receivers. The real challenge comes with determining the depth behind them, however.

Braxton Berrios seems very likely to make the roster with his ability to double as a punt returner and backup slot. Vyncint Smith is also a good bet given his game-breaking speed and the promise he showed last year.

That leaves one final spot — if the Jets actually carry six receivers.

There will be some tough cuts and in this case, neither former first-round pick, Josh Doctson, nor highly-touted undrafted free agent, Lawrence Cager, make it.

Instead, unheralded undrafted rookie George Campbell sneaks on to the roster. Once again, we’re opting for special-teams ability over actual offensive contributions sticking with the athletically-gifted Campbell.

With little time to make impressions, Campbell has a better chance of standing out because of his sheer speed alone. Doctson and Cager provide more offensive potential, but neither has much experience playing special teams.

Don’t be surprised if the Jets turn to the waiver wire to find additional depth here either.

Next: 4. Tight ends

NY Jets (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

4. NY Jets’ tight ends

  • Chris Herndon, Ryan Griffin, Trevon Wesco
  • CUT: Daniel Brown, Ross Travis

The returning Chris Herndon will provide a huge boost to the Jets’ offense in a number of ways. And the team hopes that pairing him up with 2019 surprise standout Ryan Griffin will form one of the more formidable tight-end duos in the league.

Herndon was missed both in the passing and running game last season as Griffin, while effective in some areas, really struggled as a blocker in the ground game. Meanwhile, Herndon impressed as a blocker in his rookie season and offers just as much, if not more, value in the passing attack.

Look for Herndon, provided he’s healthy to be a prime candidate for a bounce-back season in 2020.

Herndon and Griffin are guaranteed roster spots, but the third tight end job will come down to a three-way battle between three very different players.

We give the edge to 2019 fourth-rounder Trevon Wesco due to his versatility to play both in-line tight end, fullback, or H-back. He made significant strides down the stretch last season and head coach Adam Gase is a big fan.

Daniel Brown doesn’t offer much on offense, but is a valuable special-teamer and could push for a roster spot — especially if the Jets carry four tight ends as they did for most of last year.

Ross Travis is the wild card to watch in this group. The former college basketball star is the most athletic tight end on the roster and offers significant upside as a receiver.

He faces an uphill battle, but could stick around on the practice squad at the very least.

Next: 5. Offensive line

NY Jets (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)

5. NY Jets’ offensive line

  • Mekhi Becton (LT) (R), Alex Lewis (LG), Connor McGovern (C), Greg Van Roten (RG), George Fant (RT), Chuma Edoga (OT), Jonotthan Harrison (C), Cameron Clark (OT/OG), Conor McDermott (OT)
  • CUT: Brian Winters, Josh Andrews, Ben Braden, Jared Hilbers (R), Jimmy Murray, Brad Lundblade, Leo Koloamatangi, Corbin Kaufusi

Perhaps no position will look more different in 2020 than the offensive line. When all is set and done, there’s a strong chance that none of the team’s Week 1 starters from last year begin the season as starters in 2020.

First-round pick Mekhi Becton is a near-lock to man the left tackle position, although a challenging offseason could throw a wrench in the plans. Still, he seems like a pretty good bet to start Week 1.

Alex Lewis appears to have a lock on the left guard role while free-agent signing Connor McGovern will start at center barring injury or opt-out. The right guard and right tackle positions aren’t as simple.

We give the edge to free-agent signings Greg Van Roten and George Fant. Unless third-round pick Chuma Edoga shows considerable improvement, he’ll likely begin the year on the bench.

And as for Van Roten, all he has to do is beat out veteran Brian Winters and the right guard job is his. If Winters doesn’t win the starting job, there’s a good chance the Jets opt to cut him and let him find work elsewhere as opposed to carrying his $7.28 million cap hit on the bench.

Jonotthan Harrison and rookie Cameron Clark should have no problem finding roster spots as well. The ninth offensive line spot was the hardest to determine on the entire roster.

In the end, we went with veteran tackle Conor McDermott over Winters, free-agent signing Josh Andrews, and others such as Ben Braden and Jared Hilbers.

My gut says that the Jets view Clark more as a guard meaning that Edoga would be the only backup tackle on the roster. Andrews’ role is already occupied by Harrison while Winters will cost too much.

McDermott spent time with the Jets last year and provides extra depth at tackle. Hilbers is an interesting prospect, but the lack of a preseason likely costs him a spot on the 53-man roster.

Next: 6. Defensive line

NY Jets (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

6. NY Jets’ defensive line

  • Quinnen Williams, Steve McLendon, Henry Anderson, Folorunso Fatukasi, Kyle Phillips, Jabari Zuniga (R), Nathan Shepherd, John Franklin-Myers
  • CUT: Bronson Kaufusi, Jordan Willis, Domenique Davis (R), Sterling Johnson (R)

The Jets’ defensive line was one of the strongest units on the team last year as they received contributions from the unlikeliest of places.

And going into 2020, it’s clear that some difficult cuts might have to be made. However, in this case, we have the Jets carrying a whopping eight defensive linemen (counting Kyle Phillips and Jabari Zuniga who are more hybrids than true down linemen).

Quinnen Williams, Steve McLendon, Henry Anderson, and Folorunso Fatukasi are all locks. Those four will be the core of the defensive line again in 2020 with each receiving plenty of playing time.

Phillips made the team as an undrafted rookie last season and figures to hold a key role as a hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker again. The same goes for third-round pick Jabari Zuniga who should find his way into the rotation.

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2018 third-rounder Nathan Shepherd impressed as a situational pass-rusher last season and while not a lock for the roster, provides some of the only interior pass-rush presence on the team.

The surprise here is John Franklin-Myers — a fourth-round pick in 2018 who was claimed off waivers at the beginning of last year. Injuries kept him off the field for all of 2019, but there’s a reason he was a priority waiver claim back in September.

The Jets are high on him and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see him steal a roster spot.

Next: 7. Outside linebackers

NY Jets (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

7. NY Jets’ outside linebackers

  • Jordan Jenkins, Tarell Basham, Bryce Huff (R)
  • CUT: Harvey Langi, Frankie Luvu, Wyatt Ray

Arguably the weakest position group on the roster, the Jets really only have six true outside linebackers under contract — and even including Wyatt Ray is pushing it.

Jordan Jenkins is the only true lock for a roster spot. Jenkins was brought back on a team-friendly one-year, $5 million contract in the offseason and remains the only edge rusher with starting experience on the team.

Tarell Basham figures to see time as a starter opposite Jenkins and is set for the biggest opportunity of his career after showing promise as a situational pass-rusher in 2019.

The player to watch here is undrafted rookie Bryce Huff. Huff has received the most hype out of all the Jets’ undrafted free agents and even in a difficult offseason, it would hardly be a shock to see him earn a roster spot.

Huff is the only pure pass-rusher on the roster and could work his way into the rotation with a strong showing in training camp.

If the Jets are looking for additional special team help, perhaps a guy like Harvey Langi could make the team as well. And it’s likely they keep either him or Frankie Luvu around on the practice squad as depth.

Next: 8. Inside linebackers

NY Jets (Photo by Bryan Woolston/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Bryan Woolston/Getty Images)

8. NY Jets’ inside linebackers

  • C.J. Mosley, Avery Williamson, Patrick Onwuasor, Neville Hewitt
  • CUT: Blake Cashman, James Burgess, B.J. Bello, Ahmad Gooden

If the defensive line isn’t the deepest position group on the team, the linebacker position surely is.

The Jets will return C.J. Mosley and Avery Williamson who missed essentially all of last season with injuries. If healthy, the two could form one of the best linebacker duos in the NFL.

But health will remain the biggest concern heading into 2020 — especially with Williamson.

The 28-year-old tore his ACL in the preseason last year and ended up missing the entire season. If he looks healthy in training camp, he’s guaranteed a starting spot.

But if he looks a little slow or worse for wear, the Jets might not only look elsewhere for a starting linebacker, but they could cut him and save $6.5 million in cap space. Of course, if he’s healthy, this isn’t a discussion though.

The Jets also saw a number of backup linebackers step up and perform admirably in 2019, but not all of them will be able to secure roster spots this year.

Patrick Onwuasor is a near-lock given his fully-guaranteed contract and should see time as a sub-linebacker on defense. Neville Hewitt should also make the roster as a valuable special-teamer and backup linebacker.

However, neither Blake Cashman nor James Burgess is guaranteed anything.

Cashman was a fifth-round pick last year, but has struggled with injuries and underwhelmed when called on as a starter in 2019. Meanwhile, Burgess led the team in tackles last season, but could just be a victim of the numbers game.

There’s a good chance that one of these guys makes the roster while the other lands on the practice squad, but we just didn’t have room in our projections and felt that the Jets were already set at the position.

Unfortunately for Cashman and Burgess, the Jets may end up feeling the same way.

Next: 9. Cornerbacks

NY Jets (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)

9. NY Jets’ cornerbacks

  • Pierre Desir, Blessuan Austin, Brian Poole, Quincy Wilson, Bryce Hall (R), Arthur Maulet
  • CUT: Nate Hairston, Lamar Jackson (R), Javelin Guidry (R)

The Jets also added considerable cornerback depth in the offseason signing Pierre Desir in free agency, trading for former second-round pick Quincy Wilson, and selecting Bryce Hall in the fifth-round of the 2020 NFL Draft.

The Jets left no stone unturned as they sought out depth at the position and the result is a pretty strong unit from top to bottom, provided everything goes according to plan.

Desir is locked in as a day one starter and should be the team’s No. 1 cornerback going into the new season. The No. 2 job is up for grabs, however with Blessuan Austin, Wilson, Hall, and Arthur Maulet all competing in training camp.

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Austin appears to be the favorite, but don’t count out Wilson or even Hall stealing the job away from him. Either way, all three players should make the roster.

The same goes for Maulet who impressed alongside Austin in 2019 and plays a key role on special teams.

As for the likes of Nate Hairston, Javelin Guidry, and Lamar Jackson, they’re all longshots to make the final 53-man roster. That said, Guidry’s speed and Jackson’s size could earn them a spot on the practice squad when all is set and done.

But barring injury and provided the Jets carry six cornerbacks, this position group seems to be set.

Next: 10. Safeties

NY Jets (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)

10. NY Jets’ safeties

  • Marcus Maye, Bradley McDougald, Ashtyn Davis (R), Bennett Jackson
  • CUT: Matthias Farley, Shyheim Carter (R), Anthony Cioffi

The trade of Jamal Adams shakes this position up, but it doesn’t change it too much.

Marcus Maye will still be the day one starter at free safety while they newly-acquired Bradley McDougald will fill in for Adams at strong safety.

Maye will be playing for a new deal this offseason and will likely do everything in his power to convince the Jets that he’s worth a second contract. McDougald will also be a free agent after this season and will be looking to do the same thing.

Meanwhile, third-round pick Ashtyn Davis figures to see playing time on both defense and special teams. The versatile Cal product will be a fun chess piece for Gregg Williams to play with on top of being a stout special-teams contributor.

The only question is, will the Jets carry four safeties? With Adams now gone, my gut says that they will.

Undrafted rookie Shyheim Carter is an interesting name to watch given his extensive experience on special teams while at Alabama, but veteran Bennett Jackson gets the nod over both him and Matthias Farley given that he’s the only other true strong safety on the roster.

However, this spot is really up for grabs and it wouldn’t be surprising to see any of them emerge with it.

Next: 11. Special teams

NY Jets (Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images)

11. NY Jets’ special teams

  • Brett Maher (K), Braden Mann (P) (R), Thomas Hennessy (LS)
  • CUT: Sam Ficken

The Jets’ special teams also received a makeover in the offseason with long snapper Thomas Hennessy the only 2019 holdover guaranteed a roster spot.

Hennessy is one of the best tackling long snappers in the NFL and will look to continue holding down the fort in 2020. And given that he’s running unopposed, that shouldn’t be a problem.

Meanwhile, rookie sixth-round pick Braden Mann is also a lock for the roster given that he doesn’t have any competition either. Mann will hopefully be an improvement over the reliable, but underwhelming Lachlan Edwards.

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The only competition to pay attention to will be at kicker where the incumbent Sam Ficken will battle it out with free-agent signing Brett Maher.

Ficken stabilized the kicker position for the Jets last year, but was ultimately unreliable connecting on just 70 percent of his field goals while also missing three extra points.

Maher, on the other hand, impressed as a 29-year-old rookie with the Dallas Cowboys in 2018, but struggled mightily last season.

However, the former CFL kicker has a huge leg which gives him a leg up (no pun intended) over Ficken.

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Don’t be surprised to see the Jets scour the waiver wire for the answer at kicker, however. We could be in for a repeat of last year unless either Maher or Ficken separates from the other in training camp.

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