Report Card Grades for New York Jets' Undrafted Free-Agent Signings
They may not get the same amount of attention as their drafted counterparts, but every year, undrafted gems go on to enjoy terrific careers in the NFL.
The reasons why these players go undrafted always vary—some are too small, some come from obscure programs, while others were unable to shake off-field troubles to raise their draft stock. Sure, many of these players will never find a permanent home in the NFL, but you never know when the next Tony Romo or Damon Harrison will come along.
Here are report card grades for all of the Jets' undrafted free-agent signings.
Kerry Hyder, DT, Texas Tech
A two-gapping, run-stuffing specialist, Hyder is at his best when using his hands to shake blockers and get into the backfield.
He is limited by his short arms and height, which make it difficult for him to gain leverage on defenders. As a result, his upside is somewhat limited in the NFL.
Joining one of the best defensive line groups in the NFL will be a great learning experience for Hyder, but it will make it nearly impossible for him to crack the 53-man roster. An impressive camp may earn him a spot on the practice squad, but he is more of a camp body than anything else.
Tevon Conrad, OT, Saginaw Valley State
Coming from a small program at Saginaw Valley, Tevon Conrad has a lot of upside as a big-bodied offensive tackle who will make the transition to guard in the NFL because of his size.
However, not only is he a relatively unknown small-school prospect, he comes with some baggage after being investigated for sexual conduct in what appeared to be some type of hazing ritual.
Because he is an undrafted free agent, the risk of bringing in a character like Conrad is nonexistent compared to the upside that comes along with his size. When taking the Jets' insecurity at the guard position into consideration, bringing in guard prospects with potential is always a good idea.
Nick DiMarco, LB, William Penn
The Jets added some inside linebacker depth with the selection of Jeremiah George, but he will not enter camp without some competition from some other fellow rookies.
William Penn product Nick DiMarco is a classic "tweener" prospect as a 237-pound defensive end. His size may have been serviceable at William Penn, but he would be small for just about any position on the front seven in the NFL.
He is going to have to put on a considerable amount of weight to compete in the NFL at what is likely to be a new position for him. Unless he adapts quickly to his new environment and position, the odds are stacked against him ever making it out of training camp with a job, especially with added competition at the backup linebacker spots.
Steele Divitto, LB, Boston College
Compared to the previously mentioned Nick DiMarco, Steele Divitto stands a much better chance of hanging onto an NFL roster spot.
Having withstood the pressure of taking over for the iconic Mark Herzlich when he left for cancer treatment, Divitto will still have to put on some weight at 237 pounds. However, unlike DiMarco, Divitto will not have to make a position change.
He will, however, have to adjust to the speed of the NFL game and life without Luke Kuechly playing next to him against college competition. Divitto will have to impress on special teams and outshine drafted rookie Jeremiah George in order to stick around on the 53-man roster.
Terrence Miller, WR, Arizona
Despite his massive frame (6'4", 234 pounds), Terrence Miller never quite lived up to expectations at Arizona.
He may be the most physically imposing receiver coming off the bus, but his incredibly unreliable hands became a mental issue for him early in his senior season, as he finished with a pedestrian 467 yards in 2013.
Still, finding players with such a rare combination of height and weight at the receiver position is nearly impossible in the undrafted realm. Perhaps a new environment and NFL coaching will help him get over the mental issues that are causing his drops.
If he can turn his game around, Miller has potential as a deep threat or red-zone specialist with his size.
Anthony Grady, DL, Missouri State
Like his future teammate Kerry Hyder, undrafted defensive lineman Anthony Grady faces long odds to crack the Jets roster with the amount of talent and depth in front of him.
However, at 6'6", 271 pounds, he has the build to make the transition to outside linebacker, where the Jets need much more help.
The bad news is that he will also have to compete with draft picks IK Enemkpali and Trevor Reilly for roster spots, but the Jets won't be afraid to replace one of their dozen draft picks with an undrafted prospect if it means upgrading their roster.
It will take a position change, but Grady has a realistic path to NFL employment if he transitions to his new position quickly.
Jermaine Jones, WR, St. Augustine
With a low time of 4.40 in the 40-yard dash, per NFL Draft Scout, Jermaine Jones was one of the fastest available receivers after the conclusion of the draft. He also has good size at 6'2" and doubles as a part-time returner, ramping up the competition for Jacoby Ford at the kick and punt return positions.
However, because of the number of personnel brought into the receiver position, Jones faces an uphill battle to earn a spot in training camp. Coming from small school St. Augustine, it will be difficult for him to make the transition to the NFL quickly, which puts him at a massive disadvantage.
At the same time, if he at least shows consistent improvement throughout camp, his relative upside may earn him a spot on the practice squad to develop.
Chad Young, FB, San Diego State
Fullback Chad Young has a better chance to see the field than any other undrafted rookie the Jets brought in.
A versatile fullback who can block, run and catch—he had 22 carries for 115 yards in addition to 15 receptions for 70 yards in 2013—he is essentially a stronger version of incumbent Tommy Bohanon. Young put up a staggering 34 reps of 225 at San Diego State's pro day, per Stefanie Loh of U-T San Diego.
Bohanon was at least serviceable in 2013, but the Jets will not allow a single player to get comfortable until he proves to be among the best in the league. Young will enjoy a full-blown camp competition with Bohanon to see if he can steal a roster spot or at least be worth stashing on the practice squad.
Michael Palardy, K, Tennessee
The Jets have their kicker Nick Folk under a long-term deal, which means any kicker they bring in will be nothing more than a camp body.
Tennessee's Michael Palardy is coming off his best season as a senior, hitting 14 of 17 attempts including a long of 51 yards. He was not quite impressive enough to get drafted, but his consistent improvement from year-to-year suggests the best is yet to come from him.
The best-case scenario for Palardy is that he kicks well enough in camp to generate a buzz around NFL circles and gets the attention of some other teams with more desperate situations at kicker than the Jets. If nothing else, the Jets will keep his resume on file in case Folk breaks down this year.
Brent Qvale, OT, Nebraska
Brent Qvale may not have been a regular starter until he filled in for injured teammates for a stretch of five games (although he did play in every game in 2013), but he is a very intriguing prospect nonetheless.
A member of a stout Nebraska, he actually played his final year of eligibility as a graduate student—a testament to his intelligence. More importantly, he carries a massive frame at 6'7", 315 pounds that will allow him to match up physically at the NFL level.
He played at left tackle for his stretch of starts at Nebraska, but his build suggests he would be a better guard in the NFL.
Perhaps some NFL coaching can help him maximize his potential as a guard, where the Jets need the most help along their offensive line.
Zach Thompson, DE, Wake Forest
The Jets continue to throw hats into the backup outside linebacker ring, adding defensive end Zach Thompson to the competition.
At 6'4", 271 pounds, he has the build to make the conversion to outside linebacker. With 28 games of experience, he is a refined, disciplined player whom coaches can trust from a mental standpoint. He also has the production to back it up, leading his team in sacks (four) as a junior.
General manager John Idzik has some inside scoop on Thompson, as his son is a fifth-year senior who played with Thompson. Now, he has to prove his worth to Idzik on the field, which won't be an easy task with so many other outside linebackers in the mix.