In this two-part series, I’ll be going over my early predictions of who I think will make the Jets’ final 53-man roster. Today, we’ll start with the offense and special teams units.
Quarterback: 2 (Sam Darnold, Trevor Siemian)
Not a whole lot to discuss here. Sam Darnold is the obvious No. 1 quarterback going into 2019, as he has been since he won the starting job over a year ago.
Trevor Siemian seems locked into the backup spot, as he’s been taking second-team reps throughout training camp and the preseason. Siemian went 13-11 as a starter during his time with the Denver Broncos, a very solid record for your backup quarterback to be carrying.
Luke Falk is the interesting wild card here. A sixth round pick of the Titans just a year ago, Falk started the offseason as the No. 4 quarterback, with Davis Webb third on the depth chart. Falk has had an excellent preseason, while Webb has struggled mightily. In turn, Falk has overtaken Webb on the depth chart.
While it doesn’t seem the Jets will carry a third quarterback into Week 1, Falk has done a lot to raise his stock. It will be interesting to see if the Jets try to stash him on their practice squad.
Running back: 4 (Le’Veon Bell, Ty Mongtomery, Bilal Powell, Trenton Cannon)
Head coach Adam Gase has made it clear that Le’Veon Bell will not be getting any action this preseason, but the star running back is healthy and ready to go for Week 1.
The addition of Ty Montgomery did not generate much hype initially, but it is now clear that he is going to be a focal point of Gase’s offense. Montgomery, a converted wide receiver, will share the field with Bell quite frequently, giving Gase plenty of opportunities to play some chess and create favorable mismatches.
Bilal Powell seems to have a good chance to make the Jets roster for the ninth year in a row. There is a slight chance he could be pushed out by the younger Elijah McGuire, but Powell has been ahead of McGuire on the depth chart throughout the offseason. His experience, pass-blocking, and reliable hands make him an attractive third running back.
Still, keep an eye on McGuire. There have been rumblings his upside could earn him the nod over Powell.
Trenton Cannon has struggled as a rusher throughout the preseason, but his impact on special teams should earn him a roster spot. He has been the first-team kick returner throughout the offseason while also contributing on the punt return, punt coverage, and kickoff coverage units.
Wide receiver: 6 (Robby Anderson, Jamison Crowder, Quincy Enunwa, Deontay Burnett, Josh Bellamy, Greg Dortch)
Robby Anderson, Jamison Crowder, and Quincy Enunwa are set to be the starting wide receiver trio for the Jets this year. They each bring different skillsets to the table, and should compliment one another well.
Second-year man Deontay Burnett currently appears to be the No. 4 wideout. A teammate of Sam Darnold’s at USC, Burnett was the youngest wide receiver in the NFL last season, and the youngest Jet of all time. He flashed some exciting talent and chemistry with Darnold in road games against the Bears and Patriots.
Right now, Burnett’s spot seems safe, but the Jets were rumored to have interest in veteran wide receiver Dontrelle Inman, who ended up signing with the Chargers. The Jets might not be entirely sold on Burnett as their WR4 just yet. However, he did make some noise in the second preseason game with a pair of impressive catches, including a touchdown.
Veteran Josh Bellamy, signed as a free agent from Chicago, is a near-lock to make the team. He likely won’t provide much as a pass-catcher (barring injuries), but he will be a core member of the special teams unit.
Undrafted rookie Greg Dortch is currently the first-team punt returner. He had a trio of impressive returns against the Giants in the preseason opener. Dortch will probably not be featured much on offense, but his speed and shiftiness make him an exciting option as a returner.
Tight End: 3 (Ryan Griffin, Daniel Brown, Trevon Wesco)
Chris Herndon is the team’s prized young tight end, but he will be suspended for the first four games of the season. The Jets will miss his blocking skills and wide catch radius as a receiver. He developed a great rapport with Sam Darnold throughout the second half of 2018, ranking among the most productive tight ends in the NFL once he became regularly involved in the offense.
Ryan Griffin, signed late in the offseason once Herndon’s suspension became official, is poised to be the top tight end during the time Herndon is out. While he won’t be as featured in the offense as Herndon would be, Griffin is going to be on the field quite a bit over the first four games. As they wait for Herndon to return, the Jets simply need Griffin to bring reliable hands in the underneath game and competent blocking (while avoiding penalties).
Like Bellamy, Daniel Brown was signed over from the Bears to be a core special teams contributor. He hasn’t made much of an impact contributing on offense, either as a pass-catcher or blocker.
Trevon Wesco, an aggressive blocking specialist from West Virginia, is an interesting case. Since he was selected by the Jets in the fourth round of this year’s draft, he would appear to be a lock to make the team. However, Wesco has struggled throughout training camp and the preseason, remaining near the very bottom of the depth chart. The fact that he was not picked by current GM Joe Douglas could hurt his chances to ascend.
Regardless of whether or not he can move up the depth chart, it seems that Wesco simply has to be kept due to his draft status. The man who would be most affected by this is Eric Tomlinson.
Tomlinson has been the primary blocking tight end for the Jets over the past two years, but he has been merely average in that role while bringing little receiving ability. Since his skillset is redundant to Wesco’s, and given that Griffin and Brown appear to be locks, Tomlinson could be in trouble. However, he is easily the best blocker of the four. That could buy him a roster spot.
There are a lot of signs campaigning both for and against Tomlinson right now. His roster status is one of the hardest to read on the team as of right now.
Offensive Line: 9 (Kelvin Beachum, Kelechi Osemele, Ryan Kalil, Brian Winters, Brandon Shell)
The starting offensive line appears to be set in stone. When healthy, the five men up front will be Kelvin Beachum (LT), Kelechi Osemele (LG), Ryan Kalil (C), Brian Winters (RG), and Brandon Shell (RT).
Behind that lineup, the depth up front is looking solid. Rookie third-round pick Chuma Edoga has impressed in the preseason, especially in pass protection. A college teammate of both Sam Darnold and Deontay Burnett at USC, the Jets were even hoping Edoga would push Shell for the starting right tackle spot. While it does not appear that will happen, Edoga has still inspired confidence that he could be a solid backup at either left or right tackle this season. Longterm, he has the upside to be a good starter at one of those spots.
The Jets have a few veterans in their backup group with the versatility to slide between different positions. Jonotthan Harrison, who started six games at center last season in relief of Spencer Long, will back up Ryan Kalil. He is also capable of filling at left guard, where he started two games for the Jets last year and four with the Colts in 2016.
Alex Lewis, an addition made by Joe Douglas, has experience at both positions on the left side of the line. He started 18 games in his career with the Ravens, with 16 of those at left guard and two at left tackle. During his college career, split between Colorado and Nebraska, Lewis also spent time at both left guard and left tackle.
Tom Compton has spent time with the Redskins, Falcons, Bears, and Vikings throughout his career. He has started 30 games in the NFL, with 14 of those coming at left guard for Minnesota last season. Since entering the league, Compton has started at least one game at every offensive line position besides center. He also got some Super Bowl experience in 2016, filling in at right tackle for Ryan Schrader after he went down mid-game.
The second-team line has gotten some burn over the first two preseason games and played well. Against the Falcons, all four backups played with the first-team, as the only starter to play was Kelvin Beachum. The unit looked solid, especially the vets on the interior – Lewis (LG), Harrison (C), and Compton (RG). It appears the depth up front has the potential to be solid for the Jets this year.