With OTAs complete, here is the second part of the evolving New York Jets 53-man roster projection
Figuring out what the New York Jets‘ Week 1 roster will look like is an evolving process.
After the draft and the first round of undrafted free agent signings, I wrote my first, way-too-early 53-man roster projection. With OTAs in the books, not that much more is clear. Still, we can try to glean insights from who played where and who did not, as well as some of the comments made by coaches.
Here is my second attempt at predicting the final roster.
Quarterback (2): Aaron Rodgers, Zach Wilson
Practice squad: Tim Boyle, Chris Streveler
It seems evident that the Jets are going to carry just two quarterbacks on the active roster: Aaron Rodgers and Zach Wilson. That’s the unfortunate break of having a player counting $9 million against the salary cap while being one of the worst backup quarterbacks in the league. While ESPN’s golden child Teddy Bridgewater is still available, it does not appear that the Jets will bring in a different backup.
Running back (5): Breece Hall, Zonovan Knight, Michael Carter, Israel Abanikanda, Nick Bawden
Practice squad: Travis Dye
At running back, I don’t think Dalvin Cook is coming (nor should he). It does seem like the Jets will do their due diligence on him, which would indicate that they could still bring in another back. However, I think they will ultimately go with Breece Hall, Zonovan Knight, Michael Carter, and Israel Abanikanda.
Unless Knight or Carter gets cut, there really isn’t much space on the roster for another back, anyway.
I really don’t want to have the Jets carrying a fullback. I’m not a fan of the fullback position. But after Nick Bawden saw plenty of reps in OTAs, knowing that Nathaniel Hackett does like the fullback makes me think that Bawden will be on the final roster. Maybe I’ll change my mind again during training camp.
Wide receiver (6): Garrett Wilson, Allen Lazard, Corey Davis, Mecole Hardman, Randall Cobb, Irvin Charles
Practice squad: Jason Brownlee, Xavier Gibson
Cut: Denzel Mims
The Jets’ top five receivers are pretty much set at this point. After some early discussion of DeAndre Hopkins, it’s clear that neither side is interested. The sixth receiver slot, though, is up for grabs. Robby Sabo of Jet X said that he did not see Denzel Mims at OTAs and would be shocked if Mims makes the roster. Robert Saleh admitted as much by saying that Mims has a “chance” to make the roster.
Rodgers specifically pointed to Nos. 16 and 82, Jason Brownlee and Xavier Gipson, as players who stood out in OTAs. Both were undrafted free agents. Rodgers also praised Irvin Charles for his performance on the final day of OTAs. Jerome Kapp, a UDFA who was signed after he stood out on a tryout in rookie minicamp, is also competing for that final spot.
I have Charles making the roster simply because this is his second season with the team. He spent 2022 on the practice squad. Still, Kapp was a reported standout in OTAs and could make a run for the position, as could Brownlee and Gipson. It’s hard to know more before camp starts.
Tight end (3): Tyler Conklin, C.J. Uzomah, Jeremy Ruckert
Practice squad: Kenny Yeboah
Cut: Zack Kuntz
The Jets’ top three tight ends are all but locks to make the roster. It’s the fourth tight end where things get interesting. The Jets carried Kenny Yeboah for most of last season, but I think he’s more likely a practice squad candidate if Jeremy Ruckert continues to show improvement.
Zack Kuntz’s freakish athleticism is tantalizing, but that’s seemingly all he brings to the table right now. I don’t think the Jets will carry a fourth tight end who cannot block. I think the Jets will cut Kuntz and hope to sneak him onto the practice squad, but someone else will see that athleticism and sign him to the active roster.
Offensive tackle (5): Duane Brown, Mekhi Becton, Billy Turner, Max Mitchell, Carter Warren
Practice squad: Yodny Cajuste
It’s pretty likely that the Jets will carry five tackles this season. Duane Brown’s status for the start of training camp is uncertain, per Robert Saleh, but that isn’t expected to carry over into the season. (Then again, neither was George Fant’s injury a year ago.)
Max Mitchell’s status with blood clots is still not known for certain, either. But with Mitchell and fourth-rounder Carter Warren still carrying developmental status, it’s likely that Brown and Mekhi Becton will be the starting left and right tackles with Turner the primary swing tackle.
The Jets released Cedric Ogbuehi after my previous roster projection and signed Yodny Cajuste, so I replaced the former with the latter as my practice squad prediction.
Offensive guard (3): Alijah Vera-Tucker, Laken Tomlinson, Wes Schweitzer
Practice squad: Trystan Colon
Alijah Vera-Tucker and Laken Tomlinson are the starting guards. Wes Schweitzer was brought in to replace Nate Herbig as the primary backup. Trystan Colon will have a hard time finding himself a spot. It’s possible that another team signs him to their active roster, but I think the Jets will put him on their practice squad.
Center (2): Joe Tippmann, Connor McGovern
I’m assuming that Joe Tippmann beats out Connor McGovern for the starting center job, but that is not certain. McGovern got the first-team reps in OTAs.
Edge defender (6): Carl Lawson, John Franklin-Myers, Jermaine Johnson, Micheal Clemons, Bryce Huff, Will McDonald
Practice squad: Deslin Alexandre
The Jets have six edge defenders whom they like and only so many snaps to go around. All six of these guys will be on the final roster. UDFA Deslin Alexandre will likely languish on the practice squad. Bradley Anae of Jets practice squad fame went on injured reserve and will miss the season.
Interior defensive line (4): Quinnen Williams, Al Woods, Quinton Jefferson, Solomon Thomas
Practice squad: Tanzel Smart, Isaiah Mack
Cut: Marquiss Spencer
Hopefully, the Quinnen Williams contract situation will be resolved soon. Saleh made it clear that he is not concerned. The defensive tackle rotation is pretty much set. Tanzel Smart will likely be the first man up in case of injury. Isaiah Mack and Marquiss Spencer could also make the practice squad.
Linebacker (4): C.J. Mosley, Quincy Williams, Jamien Sherwood, Zaire Barnes
Practice squad: Hamsah Nasirildeen, Chazz Surratt, Maalik Hall
I no longer believe that Kwon Alexander will be back with the Jets, which leaves Jamien Sherwood as the base 4-3 linebacker (unless the Jets choose to use one of their safeties there). The fourth spot could really go to either Hamsah Nasirildeen or Zaire Barnes. I chose Barnes simply because the Jets haven’t indicated they have any faith in Nasirildeen over the past two years.
Three linebackers on the practice squad might be a bit rich, but the Jets also don’t have any depth there on their 53-man roster. I chose Maalik Hall simply because they reportedly scouted him prior to the draft.
Cornerback (6): Sauce Gardner, D.J. Reed, Michael Carter II, Brandin Echols, Bryce Hall, Justin Hardee
Practice squad: Craig James
Cut: Javelin Guidry
Bryce Hall’s inclusion on this roster is very much in doubt. The Jets could very well choose to carry Javelin Guidry. I still think that, like last year, they’ll carry Hall in case the worst happens to one of their top corners. Brandin Echols’ suspension for Week 1 reinforces that possibility.
I don’t like carrying a special teams-only player, but Justin Hardee made the Pro Bowl in 2022. The Jets love him. He’ll be here.
Safety (4): Chuck Clark, Jordan Whitehead, Tony Adams, Jarrick Bernard-Converse
Cut: Ashtyn Davis
Practice squad: Trey Dean
Maybe Ashtyn Davis will make this roster because he’s the punt protector. Maybe Trey Dean replaces Jarrick Bernard-Converse, or maybe they both make the roster. I’m really not sure what the Jets’ plans are at safety. I chose Bernard-Converse as the heir apparent to Jason Pinnock for the cornerback-turned-safety role.
Special teams (3)
Kicker (1): Greg Zuerlein
Punter (1): Thomas Morstead
Long snapper (1): Thomas Hennessy
Special teams is pretty much set, visit with Matt Araiza notwithstanding.
What do you think, Jets fans? Am I underselling some of the UDFAs?
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