Breaking Down All the New Faces on the 2014 New York Jets
As the New York Jets commence their annual mandatory three-day minicamp in Cortland, N.Y., several new faces are now suiting up in green and white. After a surprising 8-8 finish to the 2013 campaign, the Jets appear to be an up-and-coming team—especially considering general manager John Idzik's ability to fill several glaring roster voids without blowing up the salary cap over the offseason.
The 2014 version of the Jets will face challenging competition on a frequent basis during the upcoming season. Even though New York is a more complete team on paper, they will play five playoff teams from 2013 in the first 10 weeks of the new season. It won't be a simple feat to improve upon their .500 mark from a year ago.
The next three days will grant sizable insight as to which positional battles will be ultra-competitive and which players hold slight edges to claim spots on the final roster. The first week of the 2014 NFL season is less than three months from now, and Jets coaches have several difficult decisions to decipher at multiple positions before then.
The following slideshow breaks down 15 new faces on the 2014 Jets, including rookies who boast realistic chances of making the 53-man roster.
RT Breno Giacomini
2013 Team: Seattle Seahawks (NFC West)
After losing ascending right tackle Austin Howard to the Oakland Raiders in free agency, the Jets were forced to delve into the open market to find a suitable replacement.
They accomplished that goal in signing 2013 Super Bowl champion Breno Giacomini to a four-year, $18 million deal, according to the team's official website.
Giacomini is an above-average run blocker who should effectively complement the Jets' run-first mantra on offense. He's a suitable replacement for Howard, although he shouldn't be touted as a major upgrade. Giacomini missed seven games with a knee injury in 2013, but returned for the Seahawks' title run in the playoffs.
RG Dakota Dozier
2013 Team: Furman (Southern)
Dakota Dozier is a long shot to make the Jets' 53-man roster, but projected starting right guard Willie Colon was forced to undergo offseason arthroscopic knee surgery, potentially creating an opportunity for the FCS product. According to Ourlads.com, Dozier is slotted as the Jets' third-string right guard behind 2013 draft pick Oday Aboushi.
At 6'4'' and 313 pounds, Dozier has the size to effectively man his position, although his strength remains a question mark. According to NFL.com, he pumped 23 reps on the 225-pound bench press at the annual scouting combine.
Dozier is a hard-nosed player who finishes his blocks, but needs to improve his footwork to excel at the pro level, per Nolan Nawrocki of NFL.com.
Jeremiah George (ILB)
2013 Team: Iowa State (Big 12)
Jeremiah George boasts serious upside as an interior pass-rusher. He was a lethal force for the Cyclones in his senior season, recording a whopping 133 total tackles, including 12.0 for loss, with 3.5 sacks and three forced fumbles.
His ability to drop back into coverage makes him a dynamic playmaker on defense. He also posted six passes defensed and two interceptions in 2013. George doesn't flaunt outstanding speed, which will likely put a damper on his chances of earning a spot on the Jets' final roster.
He ran a 4.91-second 40-yard dash at the combine. He also recorded top-performer status among players at his position on the bench press with 28 reps. Gil Brandt of NFL.com believes George must increase his size in order to succeed at the next level.
CB Dimitri Patterson
2013 Team: Miami Dolphins (AFC East)
Dimitri Patterson is a prototypical Idzik offseason pickup. The eight-year veteran has played for five different teams throughout his career. He's played in all 16 regular-season games just once in his pro career (2010), but the Jets are hopeful that he can earn a starting job opposite second-year player Dee Milliner at cornerback.
Patterson could prove to be an offseason steal if he's able to produce at a high level over the entirety of the season. He recorded 18 total tackles, one sack, six passes defensed and four interceptions in just six games for the Dolphins in 2013.
According to Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post, Patterson underwent groin surgery in December. His ability to stay healthy could be key to any success the Jets enjoy in 2014.
CB Dex McDougle
2013 Team: Maryland (ACC)
Third-round draft pick Dex McDougle seemed to be a gamble at the onset, but the ACC product has the faith of Jets coaches—especially head coach Rex Ryan, who told Daryl Slater of The Star-Ledger that he had his doubts before the pick was announced, but has since called the rookie defensive back "impressive." McDougle doesn't figure to be an immediate impact player for the Jets, but has enormous potential.
McDougle's draft stock was ruptured along with his busted shoulder, which prematurely ended his collegiate career. He missed most of 2013 with a broken shoulder blade, an injury that prompted teams to bypass him in the draft.
In 2012, his last full collegiate season, McDougle showcased stellar open-field tackling ability in 2012, recording 71 total tackles, including 3.0 for loss, and five passes defensed. He's expected to compete with Ellis Lankster and Ras-I Dowling for a roster spot in training camp.
SS Calvin Pryor
2013 Team: Louisville (AAC)
First-round draft pick Calvin Pryor knows how to make noise both on the field and in front of microphones. The former Louisville standout, a hard-hitting defensive back who flaunts excellent ball awareness, is already a household name among Jets fans, and not just because he was the team's first draft pick in 2014.
Pryor's skills are evidenced in his college statistics. He recorded 75 total tackles, including 5.5 for loss, with four passes defensed, three interceptions and two forced fumbles.
He's a legitimate force to be reckoned with in the open field. Pryor is expected to begin his rookie season as a starter on Ryan's vaunted defense.
WR Jalen Saunders
2013 Team: Oklahoma (Big 12)
After ranking as the worst passing offense in the league in 2013, it was an absolute must for GM John Idzik and Co. to revitalize the Jets' receiving corps. Even though New York didn't prioritize drafting a wideout in the first round, the team's new band of downfield targets is more capable of registering big plays than their rather inept predecessors.
Former Fresno State and Oklahoma wideout Jalen Saunders was one of the most physical receivers available in this year's draft, according to Mike Mayock of NFL Network.
He didn't grade exceptionally well at the combine, but boasts serious upside. He averaged 15.2 yards per reception in four seasons at the FBS level. He registered 61 catches for 729 yards and eight touchdowns in 2013.
Saunders has an excellent chance to become the Jets' No. 4 or No. 5 wide receiver option this season.
WR Jacoby Ford
2013 Team: Oakland Raiders (AFC West)
The Jets took a chance on former Raiders wideout Jacoby Ford over the offseason, hoping that the former fourth-round pick can supply some value to the team both on offense and on special teams. Ford missed the entire 2012 season with a Lisfranc fracture and is widely regarded as an injury-prone player. He missed some time during team OTAs with a foot injury and therefore is not guaranteed a roster spot.
When healthy, Ford exhibits outstanding vertical speed. He's recorded four kick returns for touchdowns in his career, averaging 25.0 yards per return on 75 tries.
As a receiver, Ford has been much less impressive, recording just 57 receptions during the three seasons that he's been healthy. He averages 14.9 yards per catch, but he is also extremely turnover prone—he coughed up the football 10 times in 38 career games.
WR Quincy Enunwa
2013 Team: Nebraska (Big Ten)
Sixth-round draft pick Quincy Enunwa flashed signs of greatness throughout three seasons as a starter at the collegiate level. He's a smart player who doesn't try to do too much in third-down situations.
At 6'2'' and 225 pounds, Enunwa is a strong wideout who leverages his size to bully smaller corners. He features an NFL build and could contend for a role on the Jets offense in 2014.
Enunwa was an under-the-radar selection who could pay big future dividends for the Jets. He doesn't possess blistering speed, but with 4.45-second 40 time, he is fast enough to beat most defensive backs.
Enunwa recorded 51 catches for 753 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2013. He doesn't just know how to find the sticks; he also does a solid job of getting into the end zone, a feat Jets receivers seldom achieved last season.
WR Shaq Evans
2013 Team: UCLA (Pac-12)
Former UCLA receiver Shaq Evans is a two-time honorable-mention All-Pac-12 player. The fourth-round pick will compete with Enunwa, Ford and Saunders in training camp for playing time in 2014.
At 6'1'' and 213 pounds, Evans, like Enunwa, boasts NFL size for a wideout. He's a tough competitor who's demonstrated the ability to make difficult catches. But he is also prone to dropping passes.
Evans registered 47 receptions for 709 yards (15.1 yards per catch) and nine touchdowns in his final collegiate season. He transferred from Notre Dame to UCLA after his freshman year, a move which forced him to sit out the 2010 season. Evans' most productive season at the college level occurred in 2012, when he pulled down 60 catches for 877 yards.
WR Eric Decker
2013 Team: Denver Broncos (AFC West)
The Jets didn't break the bank on former Broncos go-to target Eric Decker over the offseason, signing the 27-year-old veteran to a five-year, $36.25 million deal. The deal includes $15 million in guarantees. Decker could be worth every penny and then some if he performs at the level he played at in Denver.
Decker recorded more than 1,000 receiving yards in each of the past two seasons, courtesy of having future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning throwing him the football. The wideout posted career-highs in yards (1,288) and receptions (87) in 2013. He also racked up 11 touchdowns.
For the Jets to earn a playoff berth in 2014, Decker needs to produce at the level of a true No. 1 receiver, though some doubt that he's capable of being "the guy" at his position.
TE Jace Amaro
2013 Team: Texas Tech (Big 12)
Far-too-early comparisons are dubbing former Texas Tech Red Raider Jace Amaro as the next star tight end in the NFL. Jets coaches certainly hope that Amaro is headed in that direction, but the rookie receiving threat must hone his run-blocking skills in order to become one of the highest-valued tight ends in the game.
According to Nolan Nawrocki of NFL.com, Amaro's "body power" in being able to match up against pro linemen is questionable. His prowess as a receiver isn't in doubt, though. Amaro was ridiculously productive for the Red Raiders in his final collegiate season, racking up 1,352 receiving yards and seven touchdowns on 106 catches.
At 6'5'' and 265 pounds, Amaro is extremely difficult to tackle in the open field. He was a top-five performer among tight ends in six of the seven drills found at the combine, including running a 4.74-second 40-yard dash.
RB Chris Johnson
2013 Team: Tennessee Titans (AFC South)
The Jets greatly improved their playmaking ability on offense by signing CJ2K to a two-year deal that included a $3 million signing bonus, according to ProFootballTalk. The addition of Johnson takes enormous pressure off the shoulders of Chris Ivory, who recorded a career-high 182 carries while averaging 4.6 yards per attempt in 2013.
Johnson is expected to receive the bulk of the workload in the backfield for the Jets in 2014, in part because of his receiving prowess. The former first-round draft-pick reeled in 45 catches for 345 yards and four touchdowns in 2013. Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg likes to utilize running backs on screen patterns out of the backfield, making Johnson a dual threat in the Jets' West Coast offense.
Johnson isn't the same type of player he was when he recorded a league-best 2,006 rushing yards in 2009, but he's still an explosive player capable of breaking loose for big gains on a consistent basis. The Jets desperately need that ability on offense.
QB Tajh Boyd
2013 Team: Clemson (ACC)
Former Clemson signal-caller Tajh Boyd could someday prove to be the ultimate steal of the 2014 NFL draft, but he will have to wait to get his chance at the pro level. Boyd was a stellar dual-threat quarterback at the collegiate level, completing 64.3 percent of his pass attempts over four seasons.
As a senior, he threw for 3,851 yards with 34 touchdowns against 11 interceptions. He also ran for 400 yards and scored 10 rushing touchdowns in his final season with the Tigers.
At 6'1'' and 225 pounds, Boyd's considered undersized from a height standpoint, but he still boasts significant upside. He features a strong arm and doesn't panic in the pocket—two parts of a skill set that helped him lead Clemson to a win the Orange Bowl.
Boyd will compete in training camp and in the preseason with Matt Simms for the No. 3 slot on the Jets depth chart.
QB Michael Vick
2013 Team: Philadelphia Eagles (NFC East)
The Jets' new version of the "quarterback competition" features former Eagles starter Michael Vick, who signed a one-year, $5-million deal in March, as reported by Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. Vick played in just seven games in the 2013 season due to a midseason injury and the explosive emergence of Nick Foles.
Over the course of his 11-year career, Vick has posted a respectable 58-48-1 record. He's notched 14 game-winning drives and 13 fourth-quarter comebacks. At 33 years old, the Jets would like Vick to take on the role of mentor to second-year QB Geno Smith, although it wouldn't be farfetched for the veteran to earn the starting job, especially if Smith struggles in preseason action.
Vick's numbers have steadily declined over recent seasons. He completed just 54.6 percent of his pass attempts on 141 throws in 2013. He's thrown 128 touchdowns against 85 interceptions throughout his controversial career.