Joe Malfa with an overview of deep sleepers heading into 2015 New York Jets training camp. We are back to US orders (and pricing) on our t-shirts, buy one here! Our podcast is also back tonight at 9PM…
CB Darrin Walls
Walls was a starter last season but finds himself on the deep sleeper list this year — that just goes to show you how much can change in one year in the NFL. With the additions of Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, and Buster Skrine and both Dee Milliner and Dexter McDougle coming back from injuries, there is only one CB spot up for grabs. Marcus Williams is the favorite to land that spot based on his play last season, but Walls has been a respectable CB in his time with the Jets and has the edge in the experience department — don’t be surprised if he finds a way onto the 53-man roster.
DT Davon Walls/Deon Simon
The only DT spot up for grabs is the one Joe Caporoso believes 10-year veteran Kevin Vickerson will occupy. I myself also believe Vickerson will end up with the job, but don’t sleep on these two rookies. In my interview with T.J. Barnes, he spoke very highly about the way the rookies performed in minicamp and OTAs. Walls (undrafted) and Simon (7th round) both have good size, but they are raw and need some refining. If they continue to progress and have strong showings in training camp and the preseason games, the coaching staff may be more inclined to keep one of the rookies over the 32-year old Vickerson.
I was very surprised to see Jones make it through the draft, and I was as elated as someone can possibly be over the signing of an undrafted free agent when he was signed by the Jets. Jones was pegged as a mid-round draft picked by many analysts, but his 40-yard dash time was very poor for a MLB which likely scared a lot of teams off. I know that I’m no scout, but Michigan State was on national TV a lot last year and Jones was all over the field every time I watched him play. He was characterized as “at worst a backup linebacker and core special-teams player” by an NFL.com scout — not a bad low-end projection. This team is in need of depth behind Demario Davis and David Harris — look for Jones to provide that depth.
TE Steve Maneri
Maneri has bounced around a bit in his 5 years in the league, spending time with the Chiefs, Patriots, and Bears. He has 6 career receptions for 52 yards and 0 TDs, but he is almost exclusively a blocking TE at 6’7″ 280 pounds. Chan Gailey will opt to run the ball a lot in order to take some of the pressure off Geno Smith, so a big blocking tight end that is 20 pounds away from being a tackle can be a major asset. Maneri’s downfall may be the red zone production that a Kellen Davis can bring, but if Davis is a shell of himself after the knee injury he sustained, Maneri has a shot at the 3rd tight end spot.
WR Saalim Hakim/T.J. Graham
The back end of the WR picture is a bit murky. DeVier Posey, Chris Owusu and Quincy Enunwa might be considered the three favorites to land the last two or three spots (depending on how many WRs are kept), but I believe both Hakim and Graham have chances to round out the roster ahead of those guys. Hakim brings so much to the team on special teams in punt coverage, kick coverage, and as a return man. He does virtually nothing on offense, but a lot of the time teams cut a more gifted offensive player in favor of a special teams guy when it comes to the last WR spot. Graham, on the other hand, actually has the offensive talent. He has actually had moderate success in the past with Buffalo, recording 683 yards and 2 TDs in two season with the Bills. He has the talent and speed to be a viable backup WR or extra option on the off chance that the offense lines up four or five wide.
QB Matt Simms
Here is a sleeper that is so deep he is currently on the Bills’ roster. In an article I did earlier this year on potential cuts, I listed Simms because of the drafting of Bryce Petty. I did, however, list a caveat in that scenario — if Petty needs more time to adjust to the NFL and grasp the offense, look for him to be listed on IR with some sort of phantom injury. It would not be surprising if Petty ended up on that list because he has a lot to learn coming from that Baylor offense, which brings me to why I include Simms on this list. The 3rd string job would be open, Simms does not have much of a chance to stick in Buffalo with the three-man QB battle ahead of him, and I believe Maccagnan would look to the veteran Simms to fill the void over undrafted free agent Jake Heaps.