The New York Jets have difficult decisions to make as they form a 53-man roster
By 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday, all NFL rosters must be cut down to a mere 53 players.
The New York Jets will have to make some hard choices to get there.
This 53-man roster prediction represents just one of many possibilities that Joe Douglas and the Jets could end up with as they come out of Tuesday (prior to any outside additions, of course).
- Zach Wilson, Mike White
Josh Johnson made a strong case for himself in the Jets’ preseason finale. He could absolutely snag a roster spot. However, my gut tells me the Jets will stick with the guy who received the majority of their second-team reps throughout the entire offseason, Mike White.
James Morgan is a practice squad candidate after a rough preseason.
Running back (4)
- Ty Johnson, Michael Carter, Tevin Coleman, La’Mical Perine
If I were in charge, I would keep Josh Adams over La’Mical Perine.
While Perine has had a somewhat improved second season based on his performances in practice and the preseason, Adams has done nothing but excel when handed the football in a Jets uniform. Based solely on their in-game outputs from the 2020 regular season to the 2021 preseason, Adams has been a far better Jet than Perine.
With that being said, I think Douglas sticks with his fourth-round pick. I do not see Perine getting the axe. It is certainly a possibility, though.
The Jets could try to put Adams on the practice squad, but he may be too good to pass through waivers without being claimed.
Wide receiver (7)
- Corey Davis, Elijah Moore, Jamison Crowder, Keelan Cole, Denzel Mims, Braxton Berrios, Vyncint Smith
Seven wide receivers is a lot for a team that will run a lot of 12 and 21 personnel (2 receiver sets), but the talent at this position demands that the Jets keep seven players, in my opinion. Cutting Braxton Berrios or Vyncint Smith would result in a less talented player making the roster at another position.
It all comes down to how Douglas and the Jets value need versus talent. They do not need seven receivers. Berrios or Smith’s spot could be utilized on crucial depth at a position like guard, tight end, or linebacker.
But if you ranked the team’s best 53 players by talent, seven receivers would be in there (maybe eight if want to include Jeff Smith, who has a shot to swipe one of the final spots).
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Tight end (3)
- Tyler Kroft, Chris Herndon, Trevon Wesco
I do think the Jets will end up adding a fourth tight end to the mix. Three tight ends is a light number for a team that will often use two tight ends or one tight end and Trevon Wesco at fullback.
Kenny Yeboah is a good candidate for the practice squad. He has upside but did not have consistent enough of an offseason to warrant a roster spot.
That, of course, is merely my opinion – the possibility undoubtedly exists that the Jets could certainly believe otherwise and keep Yeboah on the 53. Yeboah would likely take the spot of a player who is better at the current moment, but if the Jets value youth and long-term upside over short-term talent, they could be willing to swallow the present-day downgrade to increase the roster’s future potential by keeping Yeboah.
Interior offensive line (5)
- Alijah Vera-Tucker, Connor McGovern, Greg Van Roten, Dan Feeney, Corey Levin
Dan Feeney and Corey Levin could conceivably hold down the interior depth, as both players can play either guard spot and center.
Regardless, I think the Jets will add a player here. They do not have a player beyond Feeney and Levin who performed at a roster-caliber level in the preseason – Levin arguably isn’t at that level, either.
Jimmy Murray and David Moore are practice squad candidates.
Offensive tackle (3)
- Mekhi Becton, Morgan Moses, George Fant
Robert Saleh has yet to declare a winner, but most signs point to Morgan Moses winning his competition against George Fant for the starting right tackle spot, leaving Fant to take on the backup swing tackle role.
With injuries to Conor McDermott and Chuma Edoga (both do not have a designated return date), the Jets do not have a roster-caliber tackle besides these three. The loser of the Fant-Moses battle would be tasked with backing up both tackle spots unless the Jets added somebody else. For that reason, New York could certainly add a player at tackle as well.
Purdue rookie Grant Hermanns is a solid practice squad candidate after a preseason campaign that featured great run blocking but poor pass protection.
Interior defensive line (5)
- Quinnen Williams, Sheldon Rankins, Foley Fatukasi, Jonathan Marshall, Tanzel Smart
I have Nathan Shepherd as a surprise cut. His skill set is redundant with Marshall’s (explosive, pass-rush-first, bad run defense) and he is four years older. Plus, he is a holdover Mike Maccagnan pick whereas Jonathan Marshall was just drafted by Joe Douglas.
Tanzel Smart deserves a roster spot after a great preseason. His precise snap timing and explosive get-off make him a perfect fit for the Jets’ attacking front.
I could absolutely see Shepherd making the roster over Smart, but there is always that one player whose release comes as a relative shock, and Shepherd is that guy for me in this prediction.
- John Franklin-Myers, Shaq Lawson, Bryce Huff, Ronald Blair
I had Jabari Zuniga making the roster prior to the Shaq Lawson acquisition. With Lawson coming in, Zuniga gets booted.
Zuniga still has a good shot to make the team, but I think Douglas will be forced to make the hard decision of cutting his third-round pick just two years in. The Florida product has not shown a single exciting flash in real-game action throughout the 2020 regular season and the 2021 preseason and has had a hard time staying healthy.f
A third-round pick has to play very poorly to be even considered as a cut candidate in his second season. I think Zuniga has been unimpressive enough to qualify.
Kyle Phillips should certainly be on this roster once he gets healthy. He remains on the Active/PUP list, still recovering from the ankle injury that ended his season last October. Phillips can be converted to the Reserve/PUP list, which would keep him out for at least the first six weeks of the season.
Hamilcar Rashed should make the practice squad if he clears waivers. Jeremiah Valoaga also had a good preseason and should be considered for the practice squad.
- C.J. Mosley, Jamien Sherwood, Hamsah Nasirildeen, Blake Cashman, Noah Dawkins, Jarrad Davis
After suffering an ankle injury against the Packers on Aug. 21, Jarrad Davis is projected to return somewhere around the Jets’ Week 6 bye, according to Robert Saleh.
Davis needs to make the initial 53-man roster so he can be placed on injured reserve with eligibility to return during the season. Players placed on injured reserve prior to the 53-man cutdown cannot return during the season.
Considering Davis’ projected return date, he will make the team and then immediately be placed on IR to open up a roster spot for someone else.
In a 4-3 defense, the Jets likely need more than just four linebackers. I see Noah Dawkins sneaking onto the roster as the fifth guy.
Dawkins was listed alongside Sherwood and Nasirildeen with the second-team defense on the Jets’ first unofficial depth chart. He ended up tying with Milo Eifler for the fifth-most preseason snaps among the team’s linebackers behind C.J. Mosley, Sherwood, Nasirildeen, and Blake Cashman.
Additionally, Dawkins ranked third on the team in special teams snaps (27).
- Outside: Bryce Hall, Bless Austin, Brandin Echols, Jason Pinnock, Justin Hardee
- Slot: Michael Carter II, Javelin Guidry
This was a tough position to project throughout much of the offseason, but with prized undrafted free agent Isaiah Dunn playing himself out of contention in the preseason, it now feels fairly likely that this is the group the Jets roll with.
Dunn will likely head to the practice squad if he clears waivers, which may not be a lock considering how much money the Jets to throw at him to lure him in from the undrafted free agent pool.
- Marcus Maye, Lamarcus Joyner, Sharrod Neasman, Ashtyn Davis
Ashtyn Davis is on the Active/PUP list as he continues recovering from a foot injury that halted his rookie season in December.
In July, Robert Saleh projected an approximate return date of Week 2 for Davis. If that projection still holds, the Jets will likely keep Davis on the 53-man roster without designating him to Reserve/PUP or injured reserve, which would require him to miss at least six or three weeks, respectively.
Special teams (3)
- Thomas Hennessy (LS), Braden Mann (P), Matt Ammendola (K)
Matt Ammendola did everything he could to claim the kicking job, putting forth a perfect preseason and a high-consistency training camp. His odds of retaining the role seem very strong, but if a more enticing option is released, the Jets may be enticed to bring him in.
After all, while Ammendola had a strong preseason, he only had nine kicks (5 extra points, 4 field goals). That’s a tiny sample size to bank on.
In all likelihood, Ammendola is the Jets’ Week 1 kicker. But I would not rule out the slim chance of New York bringing in someone else.
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