Projecting the New York Jets 53-Man Roster After the Draft

Sam Quinn@@Samquinn23Contributor IIIApril 29, 2012

Projecting the New York Jets 53-Man Roster After the Draft

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    Now that the draft is over we can look ahead to training camp and the preseason. It is very rare for teams to make big moves after the draft, so expect the players the New York Jets have now (except perhaps an extra veteran or two) to be who they go into the season with.

    But who will actually make the team? Here is my projection for the 53-man roster on opening day. 

Quarterbacks

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    Guaranteed spots: Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow.

    We don't know how much playing time each will get, but we know each of them will make the roster.

    Fighting for a spot: Greg McElroy and G.J. Kinne. 

    There is likely one spot for these two to fight for. No team carries four quarterbacks. McElroy is probably the better long-term prospect, but he's a bit of a lightning rod in the locker room after his comments

Running Backs

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    Guaranteed spots: Shonn Greene, John Connor and Joe McKnight

    Shonn Greene is the starter. John Connor is the starting fullback. Joe McKnight is the kick returner. None of them have anything to worry about. 

    fighting for spots: Bilal Powell and Terrance Ganaway

    There will probably be another undrafted free agent brought into the mix, but really it's these two fighting for the last running back spot. While it wouldn't be impossible for the Jets to carry four halfbacks, it's not likely.

    Most teams use two as the primary ball-handlers and keep another in case of injury. The loser of this battle is probably headed for the practice squad, both are too valuable to be given an outright release. 

Wide Receivers

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    Guaranteed spots: Santonio Holmes, Stephen Hill, Jeremy Kerley.

    If Holmes was going to get cut it would have happened before his salary became guaranteed. Like him or not, he's staying. Hill was just a second-round pick and has loads of potential, and Kerley showed promise in the slot last year. 

    Fighting for spots: Chaz Schilens, Patrick Turner, Jordan White, Braylon Edwards?

    I think realistically the Jets are only carrying four receivers on the active roster and leaving one on the practice squad. Jordan White is young and needs seasoning so I expect him to be demoted. 

    Schilens and Turner are going to have the real battle for a spot. Schilens is more talented and has shown more in his career, but Turner knows the system. 

    Keep an eye out for Braylon Edwards if someone gets hurt. It just seems too logical not to happen. I think he wants to come back, and honestly I think Mark Sanchez would love to have him back. Stephen Hill isn't ready for that role yet, so having Braylon around for a year could be beneficial. 

Tight Ends

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    Guaranteed spot: Dustin Keller.

    Barring an unexpected trade, Keller will be the starting tight end next year. 

    Fighting for spots: Jeff Cumberland, Hayden Smith, Josh Baker and Brian Linthicum.

    I'm not sure if Rex plans on carrying two tight ends or three, but in today's tight end-happy NFL I could see them carrying three. 

    Cumberland will likely get a spot. He's an awesome athlete and should be dangerous as a pass catcher. 

    Hayden Smith is the wild card here. He's a former rugby star. I really can't judge him, but I think we'll have a good idea of his potential early on in training camp. 

    Baker is probably the best blocker of the three, and having a good blocking tight end is really important. I just don't know if it's important enough to warrant a spot over Cumberland or Smith. Baker's spot is heavily reliant on Smith failing in camp. 

    Linthicum is an undrafted free agent who I'm high on, but I don't think he has a real chance at the active roster, I think he's fighting for the practice squad. 

Offensive Linemen

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    Guaranteed spots: Nick Mangold, D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Brandon Moore and Matt Slauson. 

    These guys are all set in their starting positions. Moore may only have a year or two left, but he's the starter for now. 

    Fighting for spots: Wayne Hunter, Vladimir Ducasse, Robert Griffin, Caleb Schlauderaff, and Austin Howard. 

    I expect at least four, possibly all five of those guys to make the roster. Teams usually carry eight offensive linemen, but it's not too uncommon for them to carry nine. If anything, the Jets will send Griffin to the practice squad for development, but I doubt anyone gets cut.

    The real story here is the fight for playing time. Honestly I could see any of these guys winning the right tackle job. It's wide open, that's what happens when you play as badly as Wayne Hunter did last year. If I had to guess right now I'd say that Ducasse wins the job. 

    I'd love for the Jets to cut Hunter, but his salary is already guaranteed so it wouldn't help. Hopefully some team with cap space takes a chance on him in a trade. 

Defensive Linemen

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    Guaranteed spots: Sione Pouha, Quinton Coples, Muhammad Wilkerson, Kenrick Ellis.

    Coples and Wilkerson are the defensive ends of the future. Pouha was just re-signed, and the Jets plan to groom the super talented Ellis to be his replacement. 

    Fighting for spots: Mike DeVito, Damon Harrison, Ropati Pitoitua, Jay Richardson, Marcus Dixon.

    Devito probably should be a lock, but I could see the Jets cutting him after the Coples pick. His playing time seems to be at risk. 

    Pitoitua is probably a lock as well. He's been solid on special teams and is at least a good player to have for depth. Dixon should make the roster for depth reasons as well. 

    I think one of the Harrison-Richardson battle gets a spot. Richardson is an experienced player who has been semi productive, but he's had injury issues. If he stays healthy I think he'll get the spot, but don't count out Harrison (an undrafted free agent) to win a spot if he has a strong camp. 

Linebackers

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    Guaranteed spots: David Harris, Bart Scott, Calvin Pace, Aaron Maybin, Demario Davis. 

    Scott and Pace would both be gone if there were any cap benefits to be had. That doesn't mean they can't play, it just means the Jets wanted to get younger. Harris is a star. Maybin really looked like he was improving as a pass-rusher last year, and Davis was just drafted in Round 3 and has real potential.

    Fighting for spots: Bryan Thomas, Ricky Sapp, Garret McIntyre, Josh Mauga and Nick Bellore.

    I think there will be a few more guys brought into training camp, but these are the ones with chances for roster spots. Thomas has seen his production drop, so the Jets may let him go to give young guys more of a chance. However, he's clearly the best player in this group. 

    The other four are fighting for a coveted spot in Rex Ryan's linebacking group. All four have talent but all four are raw. Whoever shows the most in training camp will get the spots. 

Defensive Backs

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    Guaranteed spots: Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, Kyle Wilson, Eric Smith, LaRon Landry. 

    Revis is Revis. Cromartie and Wilson are both excellent as supporting corners. Smith is a special teams star (I don't want to see him on the field defensively though, like at all), and Landry is too talented not to make the roster if he's healthy. 

    Fighting for spots: Jim Leonhard (when he inevitably re-signs), Antonio Allen, Josh Bush, Tracy Wilson, Ellis Lankster and Isaiah Trufant. Yeremiah Bell and Chris Johnson will get spots if they sign. 

    For now, I'm assuming Jim Leonhard signs and Yeremiah Bell and Chris Johnson don't. If either or both of them do, they will get spots. 

    Allen, Bush and Wilson are really only fighting for one spot. No team carries five safeties, some teams only carry three. That means if Leonhard signs there is only one available spot. Wilson is already at a disadvantage because he wasn't drafted. I give Bush the edge because he's more of a coverage safety, Allen is more of a hitter, which the Jets don't need with Landry and Smith already on the roster. 

    The wild card here is whether Antonio Cromartie moves to safety or players corner. If he's a safety, Leonhard probably isn't coming back. For now I'm calling him a corner.

    That means the Jets need at least one more corner for dime packages. I give Trufant the slight edge, but the Jets may decide to carry five corners (Rex sure loves his corners). 

Special Teams

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    Guaranteed spots: None

    Nick Folk and T.J. Conley haven't secured their jobs.

    Fighting for spots: Nick Folk, T.J. Conley, Brody McKnight, undrafted punter to be determined later.

    God I hope this McKnight kid is good; I want Nick Folk gone. 

Determing the Rest of the Spots

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    By my count, we have 27 guaranteed spots. Here are the next set of guys I think are likely to get spots: 

    QB: G.J. Kinne

    RB: Bilal Powell

    WR: Chaz Schilens

    TE: Jeff Cumberland, Hayden Smith

    OL: Vlad Ducasse, Wayne Hunter, Caleb Schlauderaff, Austin Howard

    DL: Mike DeVito, Ropati Pitoitua, Marcus Dixon

    LB: Bryan Thomas, Nick Bellore

    DB: Jim Leonhard, Ellis Lankster, Isaiah Trufant, Josh Bush

    Special teams: Nick Folk, T.J. Conley

    Add those 20 to the initial 27 and you get 47. Who will get the last six spots?

    —Terrance Ganaway: He just screams Rex Ryan favorite and the Jets could use a goal-line back.

    —Jay Richardson: Rex is gonna favor defensive guys with his last few spots and you need defensive line depth to give guys rest.

    —Josh Mauga: A Rex Ryan favorite who has always contributed on special teams.

    —Robert Griffin: I guess the Jets are carrying nine linemen.

    —Patrick Turner: He just won't go away, at the very least he knows Sanchez well.

    —Garrett McIntyre: He'll provide special teams depth.

    Keep in mind this list is just composed of players currently under contract (and Leonhard, who I think is a lock). I expect at least one, possibly two or three veteran signings between now and training camp.

    I think Chris Johnson is a good bet to sign here, and if Yeremiah Bell will take the minimum he'd be a nice addition as well. If they signed, expect them to take the spots Trufant and McIntyre.