For the remainder of the preseason, all of us here at TOJ will be examining the players on the roster bubble and making a case for them to be on the team. Joe Malfa gets the ball rolling with a look at Jalin Marshall…
Wide receiver is annually one of the toughest areas to make cuts for GMs across the NFL. Every team has three, maybe four locks at the position, but there is usually very little separation between WRs five through eight. Such is the case for the Jets this season.
Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker, Kenbrell Thompkins, and Quincy Enunwa (yes, he is still technically a WR) are the locks, but slots five and six are very much up for grabs. Jalin Marshall, Jeremy Ross, Charone Peake, and Robby Anderson are currently battling it out for those final two spots, but it is not as simple as a four-man free-for-all. It will ultimately come down to Peake vs. Anderson and Marshall vs. Ross based on the similarities of the WRs in those pairings.
Marshall and Ross are cut from the same cloth. They have similar builds, similar skill sets at WR, and both excel in the return game, but the decision should be simple — Jalin Marshall should stay, and Jeremy Ross should go.
Neither WR has set himself apart form the other in terms of statistics through two preseason games. In Game One against the Jaguars, Ross caught three passes for 51 yards on four targets, while Marshall only caught one pass for 10 yards on four targets. Against the Redskins, Ross caught one pass for 18 yards on his lone target, while Marshall caught four passes for 37 yards on 10 targets. In the return game, Ross opened the game against the Jaguars with a 51-yard kick return, but Marshall answered right back with an 84-yard return of his own.
Ross has looked more polished than Marshall at WR, but that is what you would expect when comparing a 28-year-old five-year vet to a 21-year-old undrafted rookie. While Ross may have that slight edge at WR, we are talking about the 6th WR slot. With five other WRs, two TEs, and two pass-catching RBs, the 6th WR will not see many targets if he even sees the field on offense at all. This decision should be based primarily upon ability in the return game because the Jets have been in search of an electric return man for quite some time now.
One way the Jets can keep both players would be to send Marshall to the practice squad, but I would be afraid to go this route. Like I said, he has tremendous upside, and there are 31 other teams out there that know this from scouting him in college and watching him in the preseason. There would be tremendous risk involved with this move, as another team could easily scoop him up off the PS. I would hate for Ross-Marshall to be another case of David Clowney and Danny Woodhead.
I believe Marshall has a slight edge in the return game, and the fact that he is a raw talent at WR that could have tremendous upside when refined is what makes this a simple decision.
Jalin Marshall deserves the final roster spot at WR over Jeremy Ross.
Photo Credit: NewYorkJets.com