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Who will be the biggest surprise to make the New York Jets final 53 man roster?
Joe Caporoso – Despite his constantly professed 3.3 body fat percentage, Joe McKnight has struggled with his conditioning early in camp and has yet to make any standout plays. Yes he is talented and fast….but every coaching staff reaches a breaking point with certain players. If McKnight continues to have a mediocre summer, I’m going to predict John Griffin sticks on the roster. I’m not saying Griffin is going to be any kind of factor in the regular season but the coaching staff could make a bit of a statement by keeping the UDFA over the better known McKnight, if Griffin continues to outplay him. I’m not sure what Mike Goodson’s situation is (I’m not sure anybody really knows), but if he makes it back the team’s fourth halfback won’t be much of a factor anyway, whether it is McKnight, Griffin or Chad Spann.
Mike O’Connor – After recent injuries and signings, there isn’t much of a surprise factor wrapped up in the last receiver making the roster (whether it’s Vidal Hazleton, Zach Rogers, etc) or a surprise corner making it (Isaiah Trufant, Eric Crocker, Mike Edwards). Thus, I’m going to go with former Northern Illinois running back and one of the Jets’ most recent additions in Chad Spann with this question.
I have expressed my thoughts on Joe McKnight here on TOJ in the recent past and why I think he doesn’t provide enough value for the team to keep him as their fourth running back, and therefore, I predicted that the Jets simply wouldn’t carry a fourth back. However, with Spann now on board again (was brought in after the draft then let go, now brought in again for camp) and Chris Ivory’s struggles to stay on the practice field due to his lingering hamstring issues, I’m starting to think that the Jets might be as convinced to carry a fourth running back than they ever have this off-season. While I can’t guarantee that Spann will make the roster, I think he will certainly surprise fans as a fringe player, and he definitely has a chance to make it. By beating Joe McKnight significantly enough to convince the coaching staff to carry one more back for insurance and some upside, Spann could finally make his first NFL roster.
Connor Rogers – A lot of people are sleeping on the 3rd string quarterback competition (rightly so), but I’m starting to get the feeling that it’s Matt Simms job to lose. I’ve always liked Greg McElroy and feel he can have success in the west coast offense, but his time with the team may be running out this year.
Last year when given an opportunity to play, McElroy showed he can manage a game but struggles getting rid of the ball and throwing down field. While he’s certainly a better decision maker than Matt Simms, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Jets are more interested in investing in Simms raw skills. While Simms has shown us virtually nothing, McElroy actually received less reps than him at OTA’s. The garbage time in preseason will be much more telling for this competition and while this prediction is quite premature, I’m taking a gamble and saying Matt Simms beats Greg McElroy for the 3rd string quarterback spot.
Cole Patterson – My pick for the biggest surprise to make the 53 man roster is Mike Edwards, DB Hawaii. Edwards has very fluid hips and good speed. He also has excellent acceleration that allows him to close on the ball quickly and make plays. I believe that Edwards has a strong chance of making the roster because of Rex’s propensity to load up on talented defensive backs and because Joe McKnight may end up being a camp casualty. After a poor start to camp, the talented but replaceable McKnight might lose his job (especially if Mike Goodson returns to the field any time soon). This may seem irrelevant, but Edwards is a top notch return man and could fill the void left by McKnight. His versatile skill set could earn him a place on the roster if he’s cut and Rex doesn’t buck the trend of favoring cornerbacks.
Mike Nolan - Although Jets fans’ jaws won’t drop if this guy makes the roster, I think recent podcast guest Leger Douzable can not only make the team, but contribute up front in 2013. The career jouneyman and recent signing was developing into a pretty nice player before getting hurt prior to the 2012 season. He started for the Jaguars in 2011 and was pretty successful, especially against the run. Prior to 2011, Douzable struggled to see the field consistently because teams couldn’t find a fit for him in 4 man fronts. Where other defensive coordinators see a tweener that doesn’t fit in their system, I think Rex Ryan will see versatility. If there is anything we have learned about Rex’s philosophy on the defensive line, it is that he loves guys that are versatile and athletic. Douzable is that kind of guy and should see playing time all over the place in Rex’s scheme.
Daniel Marcus – I would consider it a pretty significant surprise if Vlad Ducasse makes this team because ever since the Tannenbaum regime spent a 2nd-Round Pick on him in 2010, he has made little to know progress in terms of assuming any substantive role on this team. After four years I have seen enough to know I’ve seen too much. This team already has plenty of depth at Guard with Willie Colon, Stephen Peterman, Brian Winters, and Caleb Schlauderaff that I can see Ducasse being shown the door.