Turn On The Jets Roundtable – Surprise Roster Spot Edition

The TOJ staff debates who will be the biggest surprise to make the New York Jets final 53 man roster

The Turn On The Jets Roundtable is back to debate issues surrounding the New York Jets. Make sure to give all of the writers a follow on Twitter and if there is a question you want to see us debate, leave it in the comment section! 

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.

Author: Joe Caporoso

Joe Caporoso is the Owner and EIC of Turn On The Jets. His writing has been featured in the New York Times, Huffington Post, MMQB and AdWeek. Caporoso played football his entire life, including four years at Muhlenberg as a wide receiver, where he was arguably the slowest receiver to ever start in school history. He is the VP of Social Media at Whistle Sports

  • Marc L

    Interesting. McKnight and Vlad gone. Yes, I see that. What wastes of talent. They had skills, they have the appropriate size. But no heart or desire. Time to go. Lets move on.

  • kilbasar

    So, 3 bloggers think McKnight is toast. I just don’t see it. Yes, he’s the 4th string RB, and hasn’t done much at that position besides one game against the Bills. But coaches always say that at the fringes of the roster, you have to contribute on special teams, and that’s where McKnight excels. He may have conditioning problems in camp each year, but once the season starts, he’s a beast of a return man. He has the 3rd highest kick return average *ever*, with only one other active player in the top 10 (Percy Harvin). You don’t cut someone like that, still playing for cheap on their rookie deal, for a project like Griffin or Spann.

  • KAsh

    Special teams players, except for the kicker, punter, and long snapper, are in general developmental players. Fans of McKnight must be the only people that lobby for their team to devote one more slot on the 53-man roster for a pure kick returner. I have never heard anyone defend McKnight as a running back by pointing to anything he has done in a game, even as an aside. So far, he has talked a big game (“They’re gonna have ta kill me to take my job!”) and then struggled with cramps and migraines, before pulling a Houdini when he gets on the field. I guess McKnight’s defense strategies include rolling over and playing dead.

    There are a lot of exciting players that we have not heard much about lately. I’m guessing Rontez Miles makes it on to the practice squad. His injuries during the summer really set him back. With Berry out for the season, there is a real opportunity for Mike Edwards to make it onto the roster as the sixth cornerback/kick returner. But my choice for the surprise roster bubble player would be Chris Pantale, who beats out Reuland for the role of blocking TE. (Hayden Smith will be stashed on the practice squad, until a mid-season injury to either Winslow or Cumberland.)

  • Sean

    This might be BS, but from what I’ve heard about McKnight is that he wasn’t struggling so much with his conditioning, but with his hydration, which is causing him to feel run down.

    Fat essentially stores water, which is why a lineman could weigh 10+ pounds less at the end of practice vs. before.

    From my perspective, McKnight’s low body fat isn’t a sign of vanity, but that he tried to cut too much weight in order to shift into a pure Sproles-type back, since he definitely doesn’t have a shot at being an every down guy with the current roster.

  • David

    I am so hesitant to cut Joe McKnight. Yes, his main value is at kick returner, and in a lot of cases, you can fill the position really easily if you have the right coaching. However, with a return average of over 27 YPR last year and over 31 the year before, that is a great weapon to have on your team and is someone that can give your offense great field position to start their drives.

    I believe last year, Joe McKnight was grossly mis-used by Sparano. On a team that was so devoid of playmakers, it seemed like everytime McKnight touched the ball, he was gaining 7-10+ yards. If that is the case, you find ways to get that person involved in your offense.

    Vlad Ducasse, they can take his sorry behind and dump him. I have been done with him for 2 years now. You don’t draft projects in round 2 of the NFL draft and if he isn’t starting 4 years into the process, what makes anyone think he is going to do that now?

    It will be interesting to see who makes the Jets roster. With that said however, I think a lot of these players are going to go for naught because I believe already, over 85% of the roster is already set in stone!

  • You don’t cut a guy as talented as McKnight the same preseason you finally bring in a REAL west coast offensive coordinator who just might use him correctly. I don’t care about him cramping or sitting out with a migraine in training camp. The guy is 25 y/o in his fourth year and a top returner in the league. The Jets can ‘trim fat’ elsewhere, pardon the pun

  • kilbasar

    RE: KAsh, I don’t think it’s fair to say he “pulls a Houdini” on the field or “plays dead”. He has not been given opportunities. If you actually look at his rushing stats, in 2012 he had only 30 attempts, but averaged a whopping 6.0 yards/carry. In his career, he has 112 carries, 4.5 yard average. For comparison, Mike Goodson in his career has 160 attempts, also for a 4.5 yard average.

    Not that I’m saying McKnight is great, his sample size is too small, and who knows how he’ll hold up to more playing time, considering his conditioning issues. But he’s definitely not a bust, has at least as much potential as Griffing and Spann, and nearly as much as Goodson.

  • John C

    With the questions about Goodson, and Ivory (so far) showing that these minor injuries might be a constant factor, the Jets should keep McKnight. In his only start (in 2010) he had 150 yards and a 4.5 average. You want to talk about, wasted roster spots, how about Taylor Purdum as a designated long snapper? This always struck me as ridiculous – have your backup center, or some other legitimate backup lineman learn to long snap.