Most of the discussions of training camp have been about Sam Darnold and how he has performed thus far and rightfully so. There have been other guys that have generated some talk such as Derrick Jones, Parry Nickerson and Doug Middleton among others, but nobody has shined and made a difference in the minds of others more than Trenton Cannon.
Cannon has come in after being selected in the sixth round this past April. He started training camp as the fifth running back on the depth chart but after Eli McGuire went down with a fractured foot, he’s moved up to the fourth spot on the teams first unofficial depth chart behind Isaiah Crowell, Bilal Powell and Thomas Rawls in order. While it seems he may be on the outside looking in, his play on the practice field tells us something else.
Coming from Virginia State, a Division I-AA school, not many people knew who this kid was, including myself. During his time at the university, the numbers he put up and accolades he received stand out. In 2017 alone he ran for 1,638 yards at a 7.7 clip with 17 touchdowns, as well as 225 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns. He received All-CIAA honors twice and the CIAA offensive player of the year once. Cannon finished his collegiate career with 4,035 rushing yards on 554 carries.
Despite all of this, after the Jets selected Cannon, we all assumed he would really only be competing to be the main returning specialist after hearing about his speed and return ability. When looking at his tape the playmaking ability stands out, albeit against lesser competition. But he has natural explosiveness allowing him to quickly get through a hole or get around to the outside for the home run. Several times throughout camp Cannon has already had some big plays and at practice on Wednesday he beat Darron Lee deep down the sideline but wasn’t able to keep his feet in after making the catch. Nevertheless, his knack for the chunk plays is something to keep an eye on this preseason.
Being a relatively smaller back in frame (5’11 185 pounds) Cannon will never be expected to take on a full workload. He will likely be a change of pace back who can fill in on any down. At the Jets Green and White Scrimmage he picked up multiple blitzes to keep his QB clean, break free from tacklers, just things you don’t expect to see from a smaller, DI-AA rookie running back.
It’s still very early in the process, having not even played in a game until tonight. However, you have to be impressed by what the 204th pick has shown so far. With one running back down and another struggling to stay on the field, Cannon can truly take advantage with the amount of snaps he’ll see. At this point in time, I fully expect to see Trenton Cannon on the final 53 man roster and not just as a return specialist, but a potential playmaker on offense.