The NY Jets will kick off the NFL's preseason schedule and the 2023 football grind as a whole when they participate in the Hall of Fame Game against the Cleveland Browns. While Aaron Rodgers and many big names will likely sit out, this is still appointment viewing.
This will be the first of many chances that prospective backups will get to rise above the rest of the undrafted free agents and solidify roster spots. Training camp darlings will get to prove that their success is not just a product of dominating 7-on-7 drills at less than full speed.
With the starters out, wide receiver Jason Brownlee will likely be put in the spotlight. Throughout camp, the undrafted receiver out of Southern Mississippi has shown that he is clearly the odds-on favorite to make the roster as the No. 6 wide receiver if the Jets carry that many.
Brownlee will be one player worth watching in this game, as his verticality, sticky hands, and playmaking down the field might help him stand out over many of the fringe players on this roster. Look for Brownlee to be targeted early and often by Zach Wilson in this one.
NY Jets fans must watch Jason Brownlee in Hall of Fame Game
While poor quarterback play made it difficult for him to put up gaudy numbers in college, the fact that he amassed just under 900 yards on 16.2 yards per catch is indicative of a player that can stretch the field and haul in contested catches with regularity.
The Jets have their No. 1 receiver in Garrett Wilson locked down, though the rest of the order is quite nebulous. Allen Lazard will likely be one of the top three receivers, but the pecking order between him, veteran Corey Davis, and speedster Mecole Hardman is still uneven. Let us not forget Randall Cobb pottering around.
Even if the Jets didn't go into the preseason intending to keep six wide receivers, a strong few games from Brownlee (in tandem with his camp performances) might be enough to force Robert Saleh's hand. Special teams play will be critical to him making it in the NFL with any team.
Brownlee faces an uphill battle to make the team, like all undrafted players do, but he could set himself apart with one or two big catches down the sidelines and enough special teams competency to make it impossible for Saleh and the coaching staff to part ways with him.