Projecting the Jets 53-Man Roster & Practice Squad

Currently, uncertainly surrounds the NFL season. You could say the same for the state of the New York Jets roster.

The ongoing worldwide pandemic has negatively affected every team in the NFL. Spring didn’t deliver the return of OTAs and minicamp. Training camp rosters shortened from 90 to 80. To make matters worse, the NFL canceled the preseason due to safety and health concerns.

This pandemic has made matters worse for players playing for a roster spot. They will not be in real game situations unless they make the team to play in the regular season. Roster bubble players will also not see outside competition due to no preseason.

It’s been quite an odd offseason for the New York Jets. They traded disgruntled superstar strong safety Jamal Adams to the Seattle Seahawks. Star linebacker C.J. Mosley opted out of the 2020 NFL season.

As of right now, the team will play five new starters on the offensive line. Did the offensive line gel during limited time in training camp? Will they be better than last year?

The Jets have also seen an abundance of injuries, particularly at the wide receiver position. Players like Denzel Mims, Breshad Perriman, Braxton Berrios, and Chris Hogan are working their way back from injuries.

It’s also worth noting that gameday rosters have expanded to 55 players. The practice squad has also increased to 16 players. Let’s predict who makes the New York Jets 53-man roster and 16-player practice squad.

Quarterbacks

Sam Darnold, Joe Flacco, James Morgan (3)

Outside of the offensive line, Sam Darnold will be the catalyst for this offense. Fans have been awaiting his big leap forward. Darnold has shown flashes of brilliance. He’ll need to be more consistent in Year 3. Decision making and the performance of the offensive line will play a big factor. Darnold has emerged as a leader in the locker room and taken grasp of the offense as well.

Also, the Jets have discussed keeping a quarantine quarterback. Joe Flacco was signed in the offseason to be a veteran backup to Darnold. Unfortunately, Flacco will not be ready for the first few weeks of the season, as he is recovering from neck surgery. According to the projection we’ve made, James Morgan would be the only remaining backup on the active roster.

It wouldn’t be outlandish to sign another veteran quarterback before Flacco returns. Morgan is inexperienced. Also, the Jets do not wanna put themselves in a bad quarterback situation like they did early last season.

David Fales could be a candidate for the practice squad. He is familiar with head coach Adam Gase‘s offense and would be an emergency quarterback option.

Running Backs

Le’Veon Bell, Frank Gore, La’Mical Perine (3)

This season, all signs point to a resurgence from Le’Veon Bell. Bell lost weight over the summer and is currently weighing at around 210-215 lbs. His body fat has also decreased to 4 percent.

Anyways, Le’ Veon Bell has looked terrific in training camp this summer. The Jets have done everything possible to put adequate depth behind him. The team signed ageless running back Frank Gore in May. Florida running back La’Mical Perine was taken in the 4th round of the NFL Draft.

Perine suffered in an injury scare on Sunday. Although, he should be fine despite being diagnosed with an ankle sprain.

Former Philadelphia Eagles running back Josh Adams could make the roster as insurance incase La’Mical Perine is not ready for Week 1.

Although, if Perine is healthy, don’t expect the Jets to carry Adams on the active roster.

Wide Receiver

Breshad Perriman, Jamison Crowder, Denzel Mims, Chris Hogan, Braxton Berrios, Vyncint Smith, Donte Moncrief (7)

Arguably, this is the most questionable position and was the most banged up. The New York Jets saw an abundance of injuries to this position, testing the depth. Currently, five of the six aforementioned receivers are recovering from injuries. Vyncint Smith will be out 5-8 weeks with a core muscle injury.

As a pro, Breshad Perriman has the most questions around him. Can he stay healthy? Will he be consistent? Perriman shined in the final five weeks of the 2019 season for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In those weeks, he tallied 25 receptions for 506 yards and five receiving touchdowns.  Perriman would be a star if you project the stats over a 16 game slate. He’d probably reach over 1,500 yards receiving.

Breshad Perriman is strongly still considered a draft bust and has failed to live up to the hype of being a first-round draft pick. Perriman hasn’t ever really sustained a legitimate starting gig on any team. Whether it be due to injuries or inconsistency, this is a statement year for Breshad Perriman.

Rookie Denzel Mims is projected to be the no.2 starting outside receiver opposite Perriman. Jet fans have high expectations for the second-round rookie out of Baylor. Fans should lower them. For a majority of camp, Mims was not practicing due to a nagging hamstring injury. He still needs time to capably grasp the offensive scheme run by head coach Adam Gase. That won’t stop him from starting Week 1. Without a preseason, this will be the first time Mims will see competition of any kind. Expect there to be a learning curve for Denzel Mims.

Depth

The depth for this position had to be remanufactured via free agency. Veterans Chris Hogan and Donte Moncrief were brought in for depth. Undrafted free agents George Campbell and Lawrence Cager were signed to compete for a roster spot. Braxton Berrios and Vyncint Smith remained mainstays. Years of poor drafting have clearly taken its toll depth-wise for this position.

Tight Ends

Chris Herndon, Ryan Griffin, Daniel Brown, Trevon Wesco (4)

Fans and coaches alike should feel really comfortable about the tight end position. Chris Herndon returns with a vengeance after missing a majority of last season with a suspension combined with an injury. Herndon impressed in 2018 as a pass-catcher and a run-blocker. Emerging from fourth on the depth chart early in the year, Chris Herndon caught 39 receptions for 502 yards and four touchdowns. He made the PFWA All-Rookie Team. Herndon will play a big role in the passing offense especially with questions surrounding Breshad Perriman and Denzel Mims. Also, he’ll contribute as a run blocker, something the Jets missed badly last season.

In this stage of his career, veteran tight end Ryan Griffin is not Chris Herndon. Griffin was signed last July to cover for Herndon during his four-game suspension. Eventually, Griffin remained the Jets number one tight end for most of the season. He was a reliable pass-catcher in the offense, especially in the red zone. Griffin caught 28 receptions for 282 yards and five touchdowns. Unfortunately, Ryan Griffin’s run blocking left a lot to be desired. Despite his troubles as a blocker, the Jets should include him in the offense.

In training camp, coaches have seen the emergence of second-year tight end Trevon Wesco. He’s gained notoriety in camp as a good blocker and pass catcher. Wesco was barely seen last season until season’s end. In one start, Wesco caught 2 passes for 47 yards. Expect Wesco to be featured more in the offense, especially in part due to his emergence in camp.

Daniel Brown will likely be a special teams player. He wasn’t really productive as apart of the offense late in the season. His blocking and route running were both inferior.

Offensive Line

Mekhi Becton, Alex Lewis, Connor McGovern, Greg Van Roten, George Fant, Chuma Edoga, Cameron Clark, Jonotthan Harrison (8)

Arguably the league’s worst unit last season, the Jets offensive line saw a massive overhaul in the offseason. The Jets will have five new starters on the unit.

Massive rookie Mehki Becton headlines the unit. He will play a major role in the offense, protecting the blindside of Sam Darnold. Becton has been unbelievably good as a run blocker. He’s been up and down as a pass blocker but that development doesn’t happen overnight.

New center Connor McGovern will be essential to the Jet offense as well. The team has been missing a legitimate presence at the position since Nick Mangold retired. McGovern will look to build upon his best season as a professional last year, allowing one sack in 1014 snaps. He didn’t even commit a penalty. He’s more refined as a pass-blocker and will help quarterback Sam Darnold call out protections.

Alex Lewis, George Fant, and Greg Van Roten will round out the rest of the project starting unit. The sooner the starting unit gels, the better for the offense.

Rookie Cameron Clark also has significant upside and will likely be a starter in the future. Jonotthan Harrison remains a versatile backup piece as a guard and center.

Defensive Line

Henry Anderson, Folorunso Fatukasi, Quinnen Williams, Nathan Shepherd, Kyle Phillips, Steve McLendon, Jabari Zuniga (7)

Probably the best defensive position on the Jets, they were the second-best run defenders in the league. What’s essential to this unit is the growth of Quinnen Williams.

Williams underwhelmed as a pass rusher last season, tallying 2.5 sacks. But, he became an established run defender. This likely could’ve been caused by a nagging ankle injury. Anyways, Williams took important steps for his own health this offseason, losing weight by dropping fast food and sweets. He’s brilliantly flashed in training camp as a new and fun season awaits for the second-year man out of Alabama.

Veterans Steve McLendon and Henry Anderson also head the front. McLendon still remains a vicious run stopper at 34 years old. Anderson disappointed as a pass rusher last season after leading the Jets in sacks in 2018 with 7.

Kyle Phillips, Nathan Shepherd, and Foley Fatukasi also remain unsung heroes from last season. All tapping out to be good run stoppers. Will they duplicate last season’s production as rotational players?

The wildcard is rookie Jabari Zuniga. He might be the unit’s versatile piece by possessing the ability to rush the passer outside and inside. Zuniga will have to catch up as he’s been banged up for most of camp. Expect Zuniga to be a rotational piece in his rookie season.

Linebackers

Tarell Basham, Avery Williamson, Jordan Jenkins, Patrick Onwuasor, Neville Hewitt, Frankie Luvu, Harvey Langi, Blake Cashman (8)

The linebackers are one interesting unit.

The middle linebackers are better than the outside linebackers most definitely. Avery Williamson, Neville Hewitt, and Patrick Onwuasor headline the unit right now since star linebacker C.J. Mosley opted out. This linebacker room has good depth for sure.

Avery Williamson has a lot to prove on a contract year. After having a solid 2018 season, Williamson tore his ACL in Week 2 of the preseason against the Atlanta Falcons. He led the team in tackles with 120 in 2018. Before C.J. Mosley opted out, there was rumors going around that Avery Williamson would be cut after or before training camp. Circumstances have obviously changed. He will have to hold the defense together this season since Jamal Adams was sent away.

Neville Hewitt, Blake Cashman, and Patrick Onwuasor provide valuable depth at the middle linebacker position. On a negative note, Onwuasor will miss 4-5 weeks with a knee injury.

For the outside linebackers, not much can be said. Jordan Jenkins has been the most productive edge rusher for this team. Opposite of Jenkins, Harvey Langi, Tarell Basham, and Frankie Luvu will fight for that spot. All are decent rotational players but the Jets lack a true dynamic edge rusher.

Take your chances with defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, I guess.

Cornerbacks

Pierre Desir, Blessuan Austin, Brian Poole, Quincy Wilson, Nate Hairston, Bryce Hall (5)

Another overhaul at such an essential position. The Jets cleaned house by cutting mediocre starting cornerbacks Darryl Roberts and Trumaine Johnson

Near the tail-end of the season, the Jets cornerbacks did their part. Unsurprisingly, it had nothing to do with Johnson or Roberts. Young faces like Blessuan Austin and Arthur Maulet rose onto the horizon, vastly improving the unit as a whole.

The likely projected starting corners are Pierre Desir, Blessuan Austin, and nickel corner Brian Poole. Arguably, Poole was the NFL’s best nickel corner last season. He’ll want to build off of last year’s success. Unfortunately, Poole has been on the sidelines for most of camp, dealing with dehydration. On the positive side, he returned on Tuesday.

An intriguing season awaits for second-year cornerback Blessuan Austin. He impressed in the final six games of the season, only giving up one touchdown. Austin was injury-prone in college. So far in the NFL, that’s not the case and hopefully, it is not. Austin has impressed coaches in camp and has become more situational as a corner.

Questions loom for Pierre Desir. Desir came off of a bad 2019 season with the Indianapolis Colts. Notably, the Colts switched schemes. However, he had a solid 2018 season as the number two cornerback. On the negative side, he has been injured for a majority of training camp due to a hamstring injury.

Quincy Wilson has impressed in camp since being traded to the Jets in April. Wilson struggled mightily in Indianapolis with the Colts.

Nate Hairston impressed for a short time in 2019. He fell off during the middle of the season, never retaining a starting role. Hairston looks to keep his spot on the roster and has performed well.

Safeties

Bradley McDougald, Marcus Maye, Ashtyn Davis, Matthias Farley (4)

The big story of the safety position is disgruntled star Jamal Adams was shipped to Seattle for a couple of picks and starting safety Bradley McDougald.

Luckily, the Jets got a solid starting caliber safety. Sure, McDougald is not Jamal Adams. But, he was top ten in pass coverage at his position. Not bad.

A contract year lays ahead for Marcus Maye. The Jets considered trading him earlier in the offseason. Luckily, Maye is still a Jet. Maye is very underrated at his position. He arguably had his best season as a pro last season. Maye graded out to an above average grade of 74.5 on Pro Football Focus. He excels in pass coverage as the Jets will need it badly to hold down the secondary. Head coach Adam Gase added that Maye could be used on special teams as well. A lot to prove for him.

Rookie Ashtyn Davis was selected to be the presumptive replacement for Marcus Maye. However, Jamal Adams left and Maye could be here for the long run. Moving on, Ashtyn Davis remains a versatile piece for the Jets, almost a swiss-army knife. He can be used in the return game. Additionally, Davis can be used as an edge rusher, nickel corner, and play both safety positions.

Gregg Williams will have fun scheming with Ashtyn Davis.

Matthias Farley will be a depth and special teams piece.

Special Teams

Kicker: Sam Ficken

Punter: Braden Mann

Long Snapper: Thomas Hennessy

Special teams will be an interesting unit.

Sam Ficken has beaten former Dallas Cowboys kicker Brett Maher for the starting kicking job. A rebounding year awaits for Ficken. He was considerably below average, knocking down 89% of his extra points and 70% of his field goals.

An exciting rookie year awaits for Braden Mann. Arguably the best punter in the draft, he’ll look to be an upgrade over predecessor Lachlan Edwards. He has a rocket for a leg and has impressed in camp.

Practice Squad: (16)

QB: David Fales, Mike White

RB: Josh Adams

WR: Lawrence Cager, Jeff Smith, Jehu Chesson

TE: Bronson Kaufusi, Ross Travis

OL: Connor McDermott, Brad Lundblade

DL: John Franklin-Myers, Jordan Willis

LB: James Burgess Jr.

CB: Lamar Jackson, Arthur Maulet

S: Bennett Jackson

The New York Jets are currently looking at a team that isn’t ready to contend just yet. Will they be better than last season? Who do you think will make the roster?

 

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