The New York Jets 53-man roster projection features incredibly tight decisions
It’s time yet again to play the prognostication game, one of the exhilarating exercises that get fans in a frenzy: Who makes the New York Jets‘ initial 53-man roster?
Now that we’re nearing the first preseason game, it’s time to break down some of the Jets players that have been standing out at camp. Will Parks is one name that comes to mind. Another guy is Calvin Jackson Jr. and Rashard Davis.
But are those breakouts enough to make the cut?
- Zach Wilson
- Joe Flacco
- Mike White
Whether or not the New York Jets decide to carry three quarterbacks in the regular season is a legitimate question. As the roster crunch becomes more realistic—more on that below—the question of two or three becomes critical.
No matter which direction they go, however, having three quality quarterbacks in August is a hell of a positive. Zach Wilson, Joe Flacco and Mike White don’t provide one wasted rep in practice, thus elevating the improvement for everybody else when 7v7s and teams break out.
New York going two or three quarterbacks in the regular season depends on Joe Douglas unloading White to a quarterback-hungry team. My bet is that he keeps the trio together in 2022.
Running Back (3)
- Michael Carter
- Breece Hall
- Tevin Coleman
If three quarterbacks are kept, think just three at running back. Although Breece Hall is still lower on the unofficial “official” depth chart, consider him one part of the starting duo (with Michael Carter).
Hall really does look that good. His vision looks impressive, and his one-cut ability coupled with his fast-moving large frame when going downhill is scary. The big question comes down to No. 3, where it may come down to veteran Tevin Coleman vs. undrafted free agent Zonovan Knight.
Mike LaFleur will not want to lose Knight, a kid who’s also impressed this summer. The N.C. State product is a physical runner who could gain short-yardage in tough spots, and he’s a bit shiftier than I previously thought (for that size and run style).
Unfortunately for the kid, in the end, LaFleur will most likely go with the experience in Coleman while trying to sneak Knight onto the practice squad. If Coleman starts the season hurt, Knight has a chance to make the cut.
- Toughest cuts: Zonovan Knight. Ty Johnson, La’Mical Perine
- Practice squad candidates: Zonovan Knight
Wide Receiver (5)
- Elijah Moore (OUTSIDE, SLOT)
- Corey Davis (OUTSIDE)
- Braxton Berrios (SLOT)
- Garrett Wilson (OUTSIDE, SLOT)
- Jeff Smith (OUTSIDE, SLOT)
Another room that may be surprisingly light could be at wide receiver. Considering LaFleur loves his tight ends and fullbacks, and 12 personnel, five reliable wideouts could be the way the Jets go.
This means Denzel Mims would not be rostered. The rumors are already swirling, and whether to not there’s any validity to it does not take away from the idea that recouping a mid-round pick for the Baylor product makes sense (save for a serious injury from any of the top five guys).
- Trade: Denzel Mims for a mid-round pick
- Toughest cuts: Rashard Davis, Calvin Jackson Jr.
- Practice squad candidates: Rashard Davis, Calvin Jackson Jr., Irvin Charles, Tarik Black
- Nick Bawden (1)
As of now, Nick Bawden is the Jets’ fullback. Yes, Trevon Wesco is the other option, but Bawden played well near the end of 2021, and he should get the nod this campaign.
Tight End (4)
- Tyler Conklin (TE)
- C.J. Uzomah (TE)
- Trevon Wesco (TE, FB)
- Jeremy Ruckert (TE)
One fullback and four tight ends equal five total “blocking-type weapons,” and that makes sense in a LaFleur offense.
The top two are locks, as is rookie Jeremy Ruckert. The big question comes down to the final spot. Perhaps New York keeps just three tight ends and Bawden or no fullback and four tight ends.
It may come down to Wesco against Kenny Yeboah, in which case, the blocker gets the nod.
- Toughest cuts: Kenny Yeboah, Lawrence Cager
- Practice squad candidates: Kenny Yeboah, Lawrence Cager
Offensive Tackle (4)
- George Fant (RT)
- Duane Brown (LT)
- Chuma Edoga (OT)
- Max Mitchell (OT)
Offensive tackle is where the prognostication-fun begins. Thanks to the Mekhi Becton news, Joe Douglas is suddenly faced with a must-sign situation. He must snag Duane Brown.
Brown, 36, visited with the Jets prior to the Green & White Scrimmage this past Saturday night at MetLife Stadium. Now that Becton is out and Conor McDermott is also injured, Brown is sitting there with money on the mind.
Douglas has to get this done, and I expect him to do so. Throw Chuma Edoga and rookie Max Mitchell in there to round it out, while coaching staff-favorite McDermott could begin the year on an inactive list or outright cut.
- Toughest cuts: Conor McDermott
- Practice squad candidates: Greg Senat, Grant Hermanns
Interior Offensive Linemen (5)
- Alijah Vera-Tucker (RG)
- Laken Tomlinson (LG)
- Connor McGovern (C)
- Nate Herbig (IOL)
- Dan Feeney (IOL)
If four tackles are kept, five will most likely be the number at interior offensive line. And fortunately, this one is pretty easy and straightforward, with newcomer Nate Herbig possessing the ability to play all three interior line positions.
- Toughest cuts: Derrick Kelly
- Practice squad candidates: Dru Samia, Ross Pierschbacher
Interior Defensive Linemen (4)
- Quinnen Williams (3-TECH)
- Solomon Thomas (2i-TECH)
- Sheldon Rankins (3-TECH)
- Nathan Shepherd (2i-TECH)
Defensive tackle is another position where the decisions are pretty cut and dry. Jonathan Marshall and Tanzel Smart are solid guys Douglas will try to sneak onto the practice squad.
Many would argue that Nathan Shepherd should get the boot, but this organization loves the guy as an experienced leader.
The big question at this group boils down to schematics: How does Robert Saleh and Jeff Ulbrich work the 2i and 3-tech spots? Will it be rigid or flexible, and if it’s the former, who will be the 2i (to replace Foley Fatukasi)?
- Toughest cuts: Jonathan Marshall, Tanzel Smart
- Practice squad candidates: Jonathan Marshall, Tanzel Smart
- Carl Lawson (EDGE)
- John Franklin-Myers (EDGE, 3-TECH)
- Bryce Huff (EDGE)
- Jacob Martin (EDGE)
- Jermaine Johnson (EDGE)
- Micheal Clemons (EDGE, 3-TECH)
Think at least 10 defensive linemen, perhaps even 11. It’s the heart of the Saleh scheme, and rookies Jermaine Johnson and Micheal Clemons are safe, as are Carl Lawson, John Franklin-Myers and most likely Jacob Martin and Bryce Huff.
The big question is this: How do they figure out a way to keep Vinny Curry? I’m not too sure right now, but since JFM and Clemons can slide down and play some 3-tech, New York can carry four defensive tackles and six defensive ends easily.
In the end, as long as health isn’t a concern, I do think Curry will find his way onto the roster (as it’ll work itself out in some fashion). Other than Curry, Bradlee Anae will be an extremely tough cut, as he’s been solid this summer.
- Toughest cuts: Vinny Curry, Bradlee Anae, Tim Ward, Jabari Zuniga
- Practice squad candidates: Bradlee Anae, Jabari Zuniga
- C.J. Mosley (MIKE)
- Kwon Alexander (WILL)
- Quincy Williams (SAM)
- Jamien Sherwood (MIKE, WILL)
- Marcell Harris (WILL)
Within this defensive scheme, it’ll be nearly impossible to keep six linebackers. So, if no major injuries occur, the final spot may come down to Marcell Harris vs. Hamsah Nasirildeen.
As of now, I’ll go with the veteran.
- Toughest cuts: Hamsah Nasirildeen, Del’Shawn Phillips, Kia Nacua, Javin White
- Practice squad candidates: Hamsah Nasirildeen, Kia Nacua, DQ Thomas
- Sauce Gardner (OUTSIDE)
- D.J. Reed (OUTSIDE, SLOT)
- Michael Carter II (SLOT, FS)
- Bryce Hall (OUTSIDE)
- Javelin Guidry (SLOT)
- Brandin Echols (OUTSIDE, SLOT)
Where in the world is Justin Hardee? While there’s no question Brant Boyer does not want to lose the veteran special teams ace, this numbers game is fierce.
Sauce Gardner, D.J. Reed, Michael Carter II, Bryce Hall and Javelin Guidry feel like locks. The final spot may come down to Brandin Echols, Isaiah Dunn, Justin Hardee or perhaps an extra safety.
If Hardee is gone, there will be plenty of options to fill his roles on special teams (Jeff Smith, Brandin Echols, Ashtyn Davis, Javelin Guidry, etc.).
- Toughest cuts: Justin Hardee, Isaiah Dunn, Rachad Wildgoose
- Practice squad candidates: Isaiah Dunn, Rachad Wildgoose
- Jordan Whitehead (SS)
- Lamarcus Joyner (FS)
- Ashtyn Davis (FS)
- Will Parks (SS)
If the Jets want to keep the 2020 third-round pick, Ashtyn Davis, the fourth safety spot will come down to Jason Pinnock and Will Parks, the latter of whom has been playing tremendously. Parks has been physical and instinctive in a lot of spots.
Right now, I’ll give Parks the nod. Whether or not they could sneak Pinnock onto the practice squad remains to be seen. Elijah Riley is another guy I like, and a guy the coaching staff likes as well, as he brings intangibles and toughness to the table, but his range is incredibly limited.
- Toughest cuts: Elijah Riley
- Practice squad candidates: Elijah Riley, Tony Adams
Special Teams (3)
- Greg Zuerlein (K)
- Braden Mann (P)
- Thomas Hennessy (LS)
The only question as it pertains to special teams is at kicker, which is a coin-flip at this moment. I’ll go with Greg Zuerlein over the incumbent, Eddy Pineiro.
|QB||Zach Wilson||Joe Flacco||Mike White|
|RB||Michael Carter||Breece Hall||Tevin Coleman|
|WR||Elijah Moore||Jeff Smith|
|WR||Corey Davis||Garrett Wilson|
|TE||Tyler Conklin||C.J. Uzomah||Trevon Wesco||Jeremy Ruckert|
|LT||Duane Brown||Chuma Edoga|
|LG||Laken Tomlinson||Nate Herbig|
|C||Connor McGovern||Dan Feeney|
|RT||George Fant||Max Mitchell|
|DE||John Franklin-Myers||Jermaine Johnson||Micheal Clemons|
|DT||Solomon Thomas||Nathan Shepherd|
|DT||Quinnen Williams||Sheldon Rankins|
|DE||Carl Lawson||Jacob Martin||Bryce Huff|
|LB||C.J. Mosley||Jamien Sherwood|
|LB||Kwon Alexander||Marcell Harris|
|CB||Sauce Gardner||Bryce Hall|
|CB||D.J. Reed||Brandin Echols|
|SCB||Michael Carter II||Javelin Guidry|
|FS||Lamarcus Joyner||Ashtyn Davis|
|SS||Jordan Whitehead||Will Parks|