NY Jets beat hints Israel Abanikanda may not be cut after 2024 NFL Draft

Abanikanda might be on the roster once again.
Washington Commanders v New York Jets
Washington Commanders v New York Jets / Rich Schultz/GettyImages

While it is premature to shovel dirt on a former fifth-round NFL Draft pick after just one season, it seems unlikely that the NY Jets will find a way to keep running back Israel Abanikanda on the roster after reinforcing their backfield in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Not only did the Jets relegate Abanikanda to RB3 after the selection of Wisconsin's Braelon Allen in the fourth round, but Joe Douglas added a second powerful running back when he added South Dakota State's Isaiah Davis in the fifth round.

Jets fans seem to have already written Abanikanda's obituary as a Jet, as it seems unlikely to keep a third-string running back after selecting two replacements. In stark contrast to this line of thinking, Antwan Staley of the New York Daily News hinted the Jets have a higher opinion of Abanikanda than some fans do.

"I believe the Jets are still high on Abanikanda," Staley said. "Fans must remember that he is still 21 years old ... There's a world where the Jets keep four running backs on the roster...However, Abanikanda will have to fight for touches and his place in the running back pecking order during training camp."

NY Jets may not cut Israel Abanikanda after 2024 NFL Draft

Abanikanda had just 22 carried for 70 yards last season, never recording a touch longer than 13 yards from scrimmage. While his speed was his calling card, Abanikanda still has issues with ball security and remains a poor pass-blocker who was unable to lock down playing time.

The former Pitt star, who ran for 20 touchdowns during his final season with the Panthers, was unable to hold down a special teams role as either a coverage player or a kick returner. He seems close to following the path of Cardinals running back Michael Carter, who was cut last season amid offensive struggles.

Abanikanda's speed may be what saves his bacon this season. While the 1-2 punch of Hall and Allen seem to be locked into a fairly immovable spot at the top of their depth chart, Abanikanda's ability to get to top speed and reel off big chunk plays might be more attractive than Davis' one-cut power.

Abanikanda is a strong runner, but he needs to be more multifaceted if he wants to eventually beat out Davis and overtake Allen on the depth chart. It's difficult, but the Jets seem to think he can do it.