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New York Jets: Under-the-Radar Breakout Candidates to Look for in Camp

Ryan AlfieriCorrespondent IIIJuly 22, 2012

New York Jets: Under-the-Radar Breakout Candidates to Look for in Camp

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    With so many questions surrounding the Jets this offseason, they will need some under-the-radar players to contribute more than they are expected to.

    Between undrafted rookies and other talented players buried on the depth chart, training camp is their opportunity to get noticed and earn a larger role on the Jets.

    Here are players that could turn heads this August. 

Marcus Dowtin

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    Dowtin was one of the most impressive players to Rex Ryan at rookie minicamp, earning him an invitation to try and make the team in training camp.

    Dowtin's talent was not the reason why he went undrafted; he transferred from Georgia to Northern Alabama after picking up an assault charge.

    Still, the numbers are stacked against Dowtin to make the team as a linebacker, which is why he appears to have made a move to safety. Marcus is listed as having number 44, which is a number that cannot be worn by linebackers. On defense, only defensive backs are permitted to have such a number. 

    It will probably be equally as difficult to make the team as a safety after the Jets stacked the position over the offseason. But the fact that the Jets are willing to work Dowtin at other positions shows that they like his potential and want to find a way to keep him around. 

    If the Jets did not think he had a realistic chance of making it in this league, they never would have bothered to change his position. 

Ryan Steed

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    Steed was projected to be drafted somewhere around the fifth round, but the Furman product slipped through the cracks and his name was never called on draft weekend. 

    While there are always concerns about a player coming from a program as small as Furmans', Steed was impressive at the Senior Bowl, showing that the jump in competition would not hold him back. 

    Steed is also a former basketball player, which is where he gets his great change-of-direction and ball skill from. 

    The Jets are always looking for young, upcoming corners to round out their roster; don't be surprised if Steed no only earns a spot on the team, but earns a small role in certain defensive packages. 

John Griffin

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    The UMass product has impressed during his time at minicamp, creating a lot of buzz around Florham park with his quick change of direction and ability as a receiver. At 5'11", 208 lbs, Griffin is in more of the Joe McKnight-mold of runners as a complimentary third-down back. 

    While he did not end up making the Bengals' roster, he did get the attention of Marvin Lewis during his time in Cincinnati. 

    However, even as Griffin continues to turn heads, it will be difficult for him to see the field (or even make the team) as the Jets have a lot of bodies to work with in the backfield. 

    If Joe McKnight falters or suffers an injury, the Jets could give Griffin a chance to be the next Danny Woodhead.

Chaz Schilens

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    Schilens was a player the Jets targeted early in free agency, and for good reason.

    With a 6'4" frame to compliment his good speed, Schilens has all of the physical tools to develop into a quality NFL starter. He will also be working with receivers coach Sanjay Lal, who coached Schilens during his days in Oakland

    The only thing holding Schilens back was the selection of Stephen Hill in the second round, who looks like an early favorite to start opposite Santonio Holmes. 

    Still, Schilens can make his impact in the red zone with his size, which is something the Jets will need after deciding not to re-up with Plaxico Burress

Jeremy Kerley

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    Kerley had an enormously successful rookie season, earning the starting job as the slot receiver midway through the season, as the Jets' brass preferred to put their faith in the rookie over aging veteran Derrick Mason. 

    While Jets fans recognize Kerley's potential, he was largely unknown commodity to the rest of the league. 

    However, according to Football Outsiders, Kerley is one of the top up-and-coming prospects in the NFL:

    Ignore the way the Jets messed around with Kerley in the Wildcat last year. He's really a Wes Welker type: a small, quick, slot receiver who's elusive enough to ring up yards after the catch.  

    With a full offseason under his belt, Kerley could make a huge jump from year one to year two and earn the recognition he deserves. 

Yeremiah Bell

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    As the Jets prepare for their first season without veteran safety Jim Leonhard, newly-signed Yeremiah Bell will pay a major role in being a veteran presence in the Jets' secondary. 

    While he may not be the most dynamic playmaker and does not have ideal coverage skills, Bell is the perfect replacement for a guy like Jim Leonhard. A physical, sure tackler (he led the Dolphins in tackles last year) with the intelligence to pick up Ryan's defense in a hurry, Bell could be an upgrade over Leonhard. 

    Most importantly, Bell is a high character guy that whose leadership skills will be needed in a Jets' locker room that is undergoing a lot of change. 

    With a change of scenery, even at age 34, Bell could have a late-career rebirth in New York. 

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