Updated 53-Man Roster Projections for New York Jets Post-Week 3 of Preseason
With the three most important preseason games in the rearview mirror, the New York Jets are just days away from deciding on a final roster for the 2014 season.
As always, the vast majority of the positional depth charts have been set for months, but there is an unusual amount of uncertainty about this particular Jets roster this year. A large draft class, a suspended player and position change still leaves a lot of questions that need to be answered in the coming weeks.
The fourth and final preseason game tends to be more ceremonial than practical, but the mass of uncertainty surrounding a few key spots will make their upcoming contest with the Philadelphia Eagles vital in their decision-making process.
Here is an updated 53-man roster projection for the Jets after the third week of the preseason.
Geno Smith's steady preseason made the No. 3 quarterback job the only chance for true competition at this position.
However, the idea of a possible change at the bottom of the depth chart has all but been eradicated. Matt Simms has badly outplayed rookie Tajh Boyd. Not only did Simms have a strong outing against the New York Giants with a 111.0 quarterback rating, but he did not leave the field to save some time for Boyd.
Boyd's fate was already sealed when he fell on his face in his only preseason action against the Cincinnati Bengals a week prior, as Darryl Slater of The Star-Ledger notes. As Rex Ryan's handpicked quarterback prospect, the sixth-round selection from May's draft had a real chance to usurp Simms for the No. 3 job.
There is a chance that Boyd could land on the practice squad, as NFL teams have a tendency to give young quarterbacks with upside an extra chance or two.
Running Back (5)
The top three runners have been locks to make the team all along, but there is some uncertainty as to whether or not the Jets will choose to keep a fourth running back to round out their depth.
The precise ordering and playing time distribution for these three runners has yet to be decided, but the real roster decision will occur at the fourth and final spot (if there is one).
While they can certainly use every precious roster spot to shore up other positions, the fact that all three of the top runners have dealt with some injury issue this summer will force the Jets to retain a fourth back. Neither Daryl Richardson or fellow backup Alex Green have flashed in the preseason, but Richardson has been ahead of Green all offseason and should wind up getting the nod.
Meanwhile, the Jets have already decided on a fullback after cutting rookie Chad Young on Sunday, per Randy Lange of NewYorkJets.com.
Wide Receiver (6)
Perhaps the most difficult position group to predict at the start of camp, there is still a ton of uncertainty as to who will make the final roster and how many spots will be available.
Greg Salas had arguably the strongest preseason of the group, scoring a touchdown in the preseason game against the New York Giants. Recent comments from Rex Ryan, via Kimberly Martin of Newsday, suggests that Salas should have a stress-free cut day:
Speaking of Greg Salas, Rex said: "He's in a pretty good situation right now." #jets— Kimberley A. Martin (@KMart_LI) August 26, 2014
The injured Jalen Saunders has cooled off since his hot start to minicamp, but his status as a fourth-round pick will assure him a spot on the team for at least this season. The team's release of Jacoby Ford has led to Saalim Hakim getting the nod as the primary kick returner.
Second-round disappointment Stephen Hill has been a lightning rod for debate. Having tried to trade him over the summer, as reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Jets are clearly fed up with his inconsistent play.
Tight End (3)
The top three tight ends have been set for some time now, as rookie undrafted free agent Chris Pantale was not able to usurp Zach Sudfeld from the final No. 3 job.
However, there could be some shuffling at the top the of the depth chart. After some early-camp struggles, rookie Jace Amaro has begun to realize his potential as a second-round pick with a four-catch performance against the Giants that included a touchdown.
Jeff Cumberland has been nursing a sore Achilles while Amaro has been the most productive receiver for the Jets over the last two preseason games. His status as the No. 1 tight end is no longer set in stone.
Offensive Tackle (3)
Keeping just three offensive tackles may seem a little light, but it is important to note that the Jets do have Oday Aboushi to help provide depth at both tackle and his new position at guard. The Jets used Aboushi as the primary backup tackle last season, there is no reason to think they won't do the same this year.
Ben Ijalana has not exactly jumped off the screen, but he has quietly turned in a string of nice preseason games, allowing just one quarterback hurry and hit in 99 snaps, according to Pro Football Focus.
Plus, given the reliability of D'Brickashaw Ferguson over the course of his career, the odds of the Jets needing to dive deep into their tackle depth chart is low.
Now that Willie Colon is healthy and back in the starting lineup, the left guard spot will be the position to watch this season.
Brian Winters got a bit of a scare two weeks ago when Oday Aboushi got the starting nod in Week 2 against the Cincinnati Bengals. He did, however, return to the starting lineup the following week to turn in a solid performance, allowing just one hurry in 58 snaps, according to Pro Football Focus.
For now, Aboushi will be used as the team's primary swing tackle, but they will not hesitate to make a midseason switch if Winters reverts to the struggles he showed as a rookie.
Fourth-round pick Dakota Dozier never seriously challenged for a starting job, but the fourth-round Furman prospect was always considered to be more of a long-term project than an immediate contributor.
It is just a matter of time before the forgettable Caleb Schlauderaff era ends in New York. One of the few players to not get a single snap of game action against the Giants, Schlauderaff has been officially replaced by Dalton Freeman as the backup center behind Nick Mangold.
In truth, this is a transition that may have happened a year ago had Freeman not suffered an injury in training camp. Having flashed in OTAs, the Clemson product has been a secret favorite of the coaching staff, who would have hated to see him get picked up by another team a year ago.
Outside of a few games in 2011, Mangold is an incredibly durable player anyway—the odds of Freeman seeing significant action in 2014 are slim to none.
Defensive Tackle (2)
There may only be two players listed at this position, but the one-two punch of Damon "Snacks" Harrison and Kenrick Ellis is all the Jets will need in 2014.
Last year, Harrison came out of the depths of the unknown to become one of the best run-stuffing nose tackles in the game. Kenrick Ellis' underrated play was lost in Harrison's rapid ascent, but he played better than most starting nose tackles in Harrison's relief last year.
Whoever the Jets have in charge of scouting defensive linemen needs a raise, because the Jets have even more depth at this position that is going to be left off the final roster because of numbers. According to Pro Football Focus, Tevita Finau has only been outplayed by Kenrick Ellis this preseason. Kerry Hyder and T.J. Barnes have spent time with the second-team defense as well.
With all of this depth, there is a good chance the Jets use a healthy amount of their newly-expanded practice squad on defensive linemen.
Defensive End (3)
If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
With their youth, talent, production and upside, the Jets have one of the best 3-4 defensive end situations in football. What is scary about this unit is that Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson are still developing and could easily be even more dominant than they were a year ago.
Once the Jets lured back Leger Douzable from free agency in the spring, their depth chart was set.
As impressive as depth players T.J. Barnes and Kerry Hyder were this preseason, there is no urgency to fix what they had last year, especially considering the durability of these three players.
The top seven spots in this group are virtually predetermined, but there will be a major surprise at the bottom with A.J. Edds beating the odds to make the team. Edds has been working with the second team alongside special teams stud Nick Bellore—a sign that he has a great chance to remain employed this fall.
Not only did Edds beat the odds to make the team four years removed from being drafted by the Miami Dolphins—he will have done it in a year when the Jets spent three draft picks on linebackers.
Sixth-round pick Ik Enemkpali has showed some promise this preseason, but unlike Edds, he is still practice-squad eligible. Fifth-rounder Jeremiah George and seventh-rounder Trevor Reilly have been virtually invisible when given a chance. Troy Davis also had a chance to steal a spot from the three rookies, but a recent leg injury likely ruined his odds.
The Jets knew they were going to wind up cutting at least one of their drafted linebackers going into camp, but coming away with none of them remaining on the team is certainly a surprise.
Carrying only six cornerbacks may seem a bit light for a defense that is so weak at this position, but it is important to note that Antonio Allen is still technically listed as a safety.
After a strong showing in place of the concussed Allen on Friday night, journeyman LeQuan Lewis has likely earned enough trust from the coaches to stick as a depth player. Ellis Lankster has been leapfrogged by both Lewis and Darrin Walls on the depth chart, but he is good enough on special teams to keep his job.
The elephant in the room is the fate of Dimitri Patterson, who has been suspended indefinitely by the team for not showing up to Friday's preseason game, ESPN's Rich Cimini reports. This is a highly unusual situation that is still in flux, and there is a chance that John Idzik cuts ties with Patterson entirely.
For now, Patterson will keep his spot. If he is eventually released, the Jets may wind up adjusting their safety group, making Antonio Allen a full-time cornerback and bringing up Rontez Miles.
Moving Antonio Allen to cornerback will stretch this position thinner than the number may suggest, but this is a necessary move by Rex Ryan as he tries to keep as many players on the roster at more needy positions.
Now that Calvin Pryor is over his concussion and has two games of experience under his belt, the Jets have no more justification to use a precious roster spot on an extra safety.
One player who will find himself on the wrong side of the roster bubble is Rontez Miles. The second-year undrafted safety had a strong showing in the intrasquad scrimmage earlier in camp but has since cooled off his production, no thanks to his lack of playing time—just 18 snaps this preseason, according to Pro Football Focus.
There is a chance the Jets can add Miles later on if Allen makes a permanent move to safety, but for now, the assumption is that the Jets will use this "flex" roster spot on positions that need more attention.
Nick Folk (K)
Ryan Quigley (P)
Tanner Purdum (LS)
Perfect in their snaps and kicks all preseason, Nick Folk and the Tanner Purdum have had their respective jobs locked up all summer. The only specialist whose job is in question is punter Ryan Quigley.
Prior to Friday's game, Quigley was deemed to be "our guy" by special teams coach Thomas McGaughey, but Quigley put himself back on the hot seat with an awful performance against the Giants. He averaged just 38.4 yards per punt thanks to two awful 29-yard punts.
The Jets currently do not have a backup punter on the roster, but they are certainly not satisfied with the inconsistency they have received from Quigley dating back to last season. Quigley may be in line to make the roster now, but don't be surprised if the Jets make a punter swap with a more impressive player that missed the cut on another team.
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