We have reached that time in the offseason where the NFL slows down a bit, with just your rookie mini-camps here and there. By the end of the month OTA’s will be starting up for teams – the Jets begin on May 22nd. Eventually we’ll be lead into June where we see full team mini-camps under way and training camps right around the corner. Before we get into training camp when players begin to get cut or injured, I like to project what I believe the roster should look like when the Jets break for opening day. Below is my breakdown of the 53 man roster, obviously this is all barring performance and injury.
Quarterback: Josh McCown & Sam Darnold
- Josh McCown will start the season as the starter with Darnold waiting in the wings. Teddy Bridgewater at this point has been traded to a team that needs to take a flier on a quarterback or he has been outright released. The Jets roll the dice here by placing Christian Hackenberg on the practice squad, a team could very easily pluck him from the Jets but on the other hand I wouldn’t be surprised if nobody touched him either. Carrying only two quarterbacks allows the Jets to keep an extra player at another position that could contribute on special teams or in a rotational role.
Running Back: Bilal Powell, Isaiah Crowell, Elijah McGuire & Trenton Cannon
- Yes four running backs. The Jets will keep Powell, Crowell & Elijah McGuire in their running back stable. Trenton Cannon is listed here as a running back but I see him contributing more as a kick/punt returner.
Wide Receiver: Robby Anderson, Quincy Enunwa, Jermaine Kearse, Terrelle Pryor, Chad Hansen & ArDarius Stewart.
- This by far is the best the Jets receiver room has looked on paper in quite some time – the days of Clyde Gates and Chaz Schilens are long gone. With Q back from his neck injury that ended his season last year the Jets add another dimension to their offense. If Terrelle Pryor can play like he played two years ago in Cleveland whoever is playing quarterback will have a go to target on the outside. As for Hansen and Stewart who both contributed minimally last year – they will continue to grow and will contribute more as rotational players this season.
Tight End: Jordan Legget, Chris Herndon, Clive Walford
- This is a position I could also see the Jets carrying two players at as well – but for this sake I have them carrying three. Legget and Herndon can and will be a formidable tight end duo for the next several years for the Jets. Walford’s veteran presence helps him land a spot but dont be surprised if they go with Tomlinson as their tight end #3 instead.
Fullback: Dimitri Flowers
- Bringing in Flowers as an UDFA was one of my favorite moves during this entire draft process for the Jets. This guy can catch the ball out of the backfield like a running back, block like a fullback and run routes like a tight end. He is exactly the versatile player Jeremy Bates will want at this position in his offense. Lawrence Thomas did a well enough job last year after his position convert but does not offer the same qualities as Flowers. The Jets will break camp with Flowers as their fullback and wont look back.
Offensive Line: Kelvin Beachum, James Carpenter, Spencer Long, Brian Winters, Brandon Shell, Dakota Dozier, Ben Ijalana, Brent Qvale & Travis Swanson
- A lot of people are concerned by the Jets offensive line and how they will perform this year. I personally dont hate this unit as much as others do at all – could it be improved, sure, but its definitely not terrible. Brian Winters will be back to 100% health this season after suffering an abdominal tear last year. While Carpenter had his struggles last year the addition of Spencer Long at center will elevate his play as well as the offensive line as a whole. The depth with Dozier, Ijalana, Qvale and Swanson is absolutely something not to complain about.
Defensive Line: Henry Anderson, Steve McLendon, Leonard Williams, Nathan Shepard, Folorunso Futakasi & Mike Pennel
- The defensive line has some new faces to it, the days of Sheldon, Leo and Mo are over. Mike Maccagnan overhauled this position group during the offseason with an emphasis on young talent. Not only did he draft both Shephard and Futakasi last month but he traded his 7th round selection to the Colts for defensive end Henry Anderson. The hope is Anderson can man one of the end positions and stay healthy while Shephard and Futakasi earn their stripes in a rotational role.
Linebacker: Jordan Jenkins, Darron Lee, Avery Williamson, Kevin Piere-Louis, Kevin Minter, Dylan Donahue, Josh Martin & Neville Hewitt
- The newest member to this bunch will be Avery Williamson who was signed this offseason after spending 2017 with the Tennessee Titans. He will step in and replace Demario Davis who has signed with the New Orleans Saints – I wasn’t a big supporter in resigning Davis anyway. The hope for 2018 is Darron Lee and Jordan Jenkins continue to make strides while asserting themselves as linebackers for the long haul. As for the pass rush off the edge we will have to see who performs the best in training camp, another name to keep an eye on – Lorenzo Mauldin.
Cornerback: Morris Claiborne, Trumaine Johnson, Buster Skrine, Parry Nickerson, Juston Burris, Jeremy Clark & Rashard Robinson
- We made a splash this offseason when we gave one of the biggest contracts in franchise history to cornerback Trumain Johnson formely of the Los Angeles Rams. He will come in an immediately be our number one corner with Morris Claiborne returning to man the spot opposite Johnson. Buster Skrine will slide back into the slot where he performs best and where he is most comfortable. Having two solid cornerbacks this year will only help Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye continue their growth as mainstays for this defense.
Safety: Jamal Adams, Marcus Maye, Rontez Miles & Terrance Brooks
- Speaking of Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye, I have high hopes and expectations for those two to come in this season and build upon their success they both had as rookies. The addition of Trumaine Johnson, a true CB1, will bode well for both Adams and Maye as they will be given more of an opportunity to “roam” the back-end looking to make big plays. Rontez Miles and Terrance Brooks will make the roster as key back ups with large roles on most if not all special teams units.
Kicker: Cairo Santos
- Santos was signed this offseason after spending part of 2017 with the Chiefs, as we battled a groin injury the ultimately left him on the IR. Santos will have to compete in mini camp and training camp with Nick Rose & Taylor Bertolet – that’s if Rose and Bertolet both are on the roster by the time training camp roles around. My expectation is Santos will beat out Rose in training camp for the job.
Punter: Lachlan Edwards
- Our Aussie punter has developed into a solid punter these past few years as we finally dont need to play musical chairs with punters anymore. Edwards will come in this season as our punter and continue to improve on the solid season he had last year.
Long Snapper: Thomas Hennessey
- Hennessey stays on the roster as our long snapper. He showed speed and athleticism from this position last year which helped in our punt coverage – also did a fine job with his snaps all season.
A lot of new faces will be on this roster this upcoming season, which we new would be the plan all along. The Jets went through a complete purge last year opening up the door for massive amounts of cap space this past offseason as well as next years. This team will be better then last years team on paper as well as on the field, building on the chemistry and competitiveness they showed in 2017.
Written by: Michael Barry; Creator of “Home of the Jets” & “Into the Draft”