2011 Undrafted Free Agent Signings: New York Jets

 

The New York Jets have formally announced their undrafted free agent signings this year, and there are ten of them, who have also been added to TOJ’s updated depth chart.

TE Josh Baker, 6-foot-3, 244 pounds (N.W. Missouri)
LB Nick Bellore, 6-1, 250 (Central Michigan)
WR Michael Campbell, 6-2, 205 (Temple)
WR Dan DePalma, 5-11, 200 (West Chester)
TE Collin Franklin, 6-5, 252 (Iowa State)
LB Stafford Gatling, 6-4/249 (Ohio)
C Tom Ottaiano, 6-1/295 (Monmouth)
CB Julian Posey, 5-11, 187 (Ohio)
WR Courtney Smith, 6-5, 230 (South Alabama)
OL Chris Stewart, 6-5, 351 (Notre Dame)

Initial thoughts —

Half of these ten are either wide receivers or tight ends, which makes sense considering how those positions are in flux right now. You want as many people available as possible to run routes, especially with Jerricho Cotchery coming off an injury. Josh Baker is a guy to keep an eye on, with his athleticism he could flex into the H-Back role easily. Nick Bellore is another player who should have a good shot of making the roster considering how thin the Jets are at linebacker and that he was considered by many to be a 6th or 7th round prospect in the draft.

How Much Can Jets Offensive Rookies Contribute?

Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer recently discussed the four new offensive rookies the New York Jets added in April’s draft, all of whom are skill position players. Looking at the 2011 season, if and when it occurs, how much can the Jets really expect from their rookies with such a shortened off-season?

Jeremy Kerley – Considering the roster situation, Kerley seems the most likely to contribute in his rookie year. If free agency goes how expected, there is going to be some reps available at the wide receiver position and Kerley is expected to work into the mix as a slot receiver. He should also compete for the punt return job with Kyle Wilson and Jerricho Cotchery. However, he will have to pick up the offense quickly which will not be easy, especially for a slot receiver where many route changes are made on the fly and are dictated by certain coverages. Punt return won’t be as complex obviously. Look for the Jets to start him off slow by only featuring him in certain packages.

Bilal Powell – The highest of the Jets offensive selections won’t have any pressure to contribute right away considering he is behind Shonn Greene, LaDainian Tomlinson, and Joe McKnight on the depth chart. Similar to Greene’s rookie year, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him inactive for the first part of the season while he picks up the offense and then maybe get worked in depending on injuries and the productivity of the players in front of him.

Scotty McKnight – He does already have the chemistry with Mark Sanchez which will help him in his battle for reps at slot receiver. As a 7th round pick he will have an uphill battle to even make the roster so the pressure will be on to make an immediate impact in the pre-season. He is also going to have to show that he can contribute on special teams, which is something he didn’t really do in college.

Greg McElroy – McElroy is more than likely going to be the third quarterback, unless something unexpected happens in training camp or the pre-season. Apparently, he was just about the smartest player in the draft and he has two good mentors in front of him with Mark Sanchez and Mark Brunell, so he should be able to handle his role this season.

All About Scotty McKnight

A closer look at the Jets seventh round pick, Scotty McKnight 

Background – As we all know by now he is a childhood best friend of Jets starting quarterback Mark Sanchez. The two of them used to be ball boys together for Mission Viejo high school.

College – McKnight decided to walk on at Colorado University, where he left as the school’s all-time leading reception and receiving touchdown leader. He led the team in receptions all four of his seasons in Colorado, a pretty amazing stat for anybody, never-mind a walk on. Last season he had 50 receptions for 621 yards and 7 touchdowns.

Vitals – 5’11, 182 pounds, 4.5 40 yard dash at his Pro Day.

Position – His skill set projects to a slot receiver, that could use his quickness and intelligence to his advantage to get open.

NFL Comparison – Not really sure…maybe a Greg Camarillo type?

Quotable

“Are you kidding me? Teaming up with a great organization and a great team and then being together with my childhood buddy who I grew up with.”

Where He Fits – McKnight will compete for the 4th or 5th receiver spot with a number of players, including Patrick Turner depending on how the Jets handle free agency.

Best Case Scenario – McKnight makes the roster and contributes as a slot receiver in some packages, while carving out a role for himself on special teams. He becomes E to Sanchez’s Vinny Chase in the streets of New York City and North Jersey (good Entourage references by Brian Bassett in his coverage of McKnight).

Worst Case Scenario – McKnight doesn’t make the team and Mark Sanchez forces the Jets to draft his other best friend next year.

New York Jets: Who Is On Thin Ice After Draft?

After seeing how the Jets spent their six draft picks over the weekend, which players from the 2010 team could be on thin ice heading into this upcoming year?

  • Shaun Ellis – Personally, I think it is still a smart move to bring Ellis back as a mentor for Muhammad Wilkerson and because the guy should finish his career where he started it. He is the longest tenured Jet and a respected leader on the team. However, the Jets aren’t going to overpay for him now after spending their first round pick on a defensive end. They could also bring Trevor Pryce back as a cheaper mentoring alternative for Wilkerson.
  • Kris Jenkins – Not that he was likely to be back anyway, but the Kenrick Ellis selection seals his fate.
  • Kellen Clemens – Good as gone.
  • Kevin O’Connell – Will probably be given a chance to compete in training camp with Greg McElroy but unless he blows him away (not likely considering his past few summers) he will join Clemens.
  • LaDainian Tomlinson – Everything we have heard since the draft indicates that he will still be back and it would be the smart move to have him return. The Jets need his leadership, receiving ability, and pass protection. Yet, you have to wonder if Bilal Powell looks good in the pre-season, if the Jets would consider letting him go.
  • Joe McKnight – If he replicates his 2010 summer and Powell is productive, the Jets could part ways with their 4th round draft from last year to make room for their 4th round pick this year.
  • Brad Smith – If Smith is commanding too much money, the Jets have drafted a player with a skill set to be his replacement in Jeremy Kerley. Even if Smith’s contract demands aren’t outrageous, they will have a tough time bringing him back with Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards both looking for new deals.
  • Patrick Turner – Will Sanchez’s old buddy from USC get bumped from the roster by his new buddy on the team, Scotty McKnight?

All About Greg McElroy

A closer look at the Jets seventh round pick, Greg McElroy 

Background– McElroy played his high school football in Texas, where he won a 5A championship as a senior. He actually didn’t start his sophomore or junior year, as he sat behind Chase Daniel. In his one year as a starter, he threw 56 touchdowns to 9 interceptions.

College– McElroy started as a junior at Alabama and helped lead his team to a BCS National Championship, throwing for 2,508 yards and 17 touchdowns, along with a 60.6 completion percentage. In his senior year, he improved to 19 touchdowns and upped his completion percentage to 70.6 percent.

Vitals – 6’2, 222 pounds, scored a 43 out of 50 on the Wonderlic Test.

Position – Most likely he will be the Jets number three quarterback in 2011 and projects as their long term backup for Mark Sanchez.

NFL Comparison – How about a poor man’s Chad Pennington, considering his intelligence and intangibles but lack of ideal physical skills?

Quotable

“I can’t think of a better place to go.  It’s an incredible opportunity to learn from one of the greatest young quarterbacks in the game right now and to also play for one of the greatest coaching staffs.  It’s an incredible tradition and legacy.  I’m proud to be able to continue it and try my best to make the Jets a better organization.

Where He Fits – McElroy will compete with Kevin O’Connell, Drew Willy, and maybe Erik Ainge for the Jets number three quarterback job behind Mark Sanchez and Mark Brunell. I am assuming Kellen Clemens won’t return next year.

Best Case Scenario– He shows promise in the pre-season and easily wins the number three job. McElroy gives the coaching staff enough confidence to make him the number two quarterback heading into 2012.

Worst Case Scenario– McElroy struggles in training camp and is relegated to the practice squad during his rookie year, with O’Connell or somebody else ending up as the number three quarterback.

All About Jeremy Kerley

A closer look at the Jets fifth round pick, Jeremy Kerley

Background – Kerley was a four sport athlete in high school in Hutto, Texas. As a junior, he led his football team to the state championship game as a quarterback. He was recruited to play both baseball and football in college but ultimately decided to stick with football at TCU.

College – Kerley began making his primary impact as a return man during his sophomore year. During his junior and senior year, he became a bigger part of the offense while remaining the team’s primary punt returner. Last season, he finished with 56 receptions for 575 yards, with 10 receiving touchdowns. He also added 97 rushing yards, two rushing touchdowns, a touchdown pass and 388 punt return yards.

Vitals – 5’10, 189 pounds, ran a 4.56 40 yard dash at the combine.

Position – He will work as a slot receiver in the Jets offense and immediately compete for the primary punt return job, which is wide open this year. The Jets will also likely experiment with him in the Wildcat formation, especially if Brad Smith doesn’t return.

NFL Comparison – Everybody is penciling him in as Brad Smith’s replacement already, although they are very different body types and Smith was a quarterback in college. Kerley should be able to be a more fluid receiver than Smith.

Quotable

“I had a great workout for the Jets when they came down and worked me out,” he said. “Ever since then I’ve thought in the back of my mind, ‘Maybe, somewhere down that line, it could be.’ I’m just glad it was today.”

Where He Fits – Kerley should compete for reps as the Jets number three receiver, especially if either Braylon Edwards or  Santonio Holmes don’t come back, along with Brad Smith likely leaving in free agency. He should also get a shot to be their punt returner and maybe get a few looks on kick return, beyond contributing on the coverage units for Mike Westhoff.

Best Case Scenario – Kerley finds a way to fill the role left by Brad Smith if he isn’t back next year. He becomes a versatile weapon on offense, contributing both as a receiver and a runner. Kerley also works into the rotation of punt returners.

Worst Case Scenario – He struggles to adjust into becoming a slot receiver in the Jets offense and doesn’t get meaningful reps on offense this season. Kerley also loses out on the punt return job.

All About Bilal Powell

A closer look at the Jets fourth round pick, Bilal Powell

Background – Powell played his high school football in Florida at Lake Gibson. He was originally recruited to play defensive back for Louisville. Powell had a rough upbringing and was stabbed, allegedly in a gang fight during his sophomore year of high school.

College – Powell didn’t do much during first three seasons at Louisville. In his junior year, he only ran for 392 yards, while averaging 3.6 yards per carry. However, he exploded in his senior year, where he earned 1st team All-Big East honors. Last year for Louisville, Powell finished with 1,405 rushing yards, along with 11 touchdowns. He also tacked on 18 receptions and 3 receiving touchdowns.

Vitals – 5’11, 216 pounds, ran a 4.52 40 yard dash at the combine.

Position – He will join the Jets crowded halfback depth chart, along with Shonn Greene, LaDainian Tomlinson, and Joe McKnight.

NFL Comparison – I read Rich Cimini compare him to Thomas Jones because of his one cut style. However, he looks a little more explosive and to have more big play potential than Jones in some of his highlights…then again everybody looks good in their highlights.

Quotable

“It’s a great feeling right now, just to get the opportunity at a great organization and having the chance to play under Rex Ryan.”

Where He Fits – It will be very interesting to see. Everything we have heard since the Jets made the selection is that LaDainian Tomlinson will still be back, which means Powell will be battling Joe McKnight for reps behind Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson. He should also contribute on special teams.

Best Case Scenario – Powell finds a way to contribute on both offense and special teams. He provides good depth for the Jets and is able to step in to handle some carries if one of the lead backs are banged up, showing an ability to take on an even bigger role in 2012.

Worst Case Scenario – Powell imitates Joe McKnight’s rookie performance last year.

All About Kenrick Ellis

A closer look at the Jets third round pick, Kenrick Ellis —

Background – Ellis was born in Jamaica and lived there until he was 11 years old. He played his high school football in Florida, where he was a four star recruit who ended up going to the University of South Carolina.

College – Before the 2008 season, Ellis was dismissed from South Carolina because of repeated team violations. He decided to transfer to Hampton University, of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. Last season he had 51 tackles with 15 of them being for a loss. Ellis received first team All-MEAC honors for his work. He also had another run in with the law at Hampton, as he has a pending trial this summer for an assault charge.

Vitals – 6 foot 5, 346 pounds.

Position – He is a natural nose tackle, who can be a two gapper for the Jets in their 3-4.

NFL Comparison – In terms of pure size and the role the Jets will put him in, they hope to see him develop into a Kris Jenkins type player. Obviously, that could be a reach considering how dominant Jenkins was but Ellis isn’t short on raw talent and could develop into a special player.

Quotable –

“I am human.  I have made mistakes. I feel like from me making these mistakes I have learned from them and have grown as a person. I have moved on from the mistakes I have made in the past that I will never do them again. I am a different person from who I was then.”

I feel really excited to be a Jet. It is unbelievable. I feel that I fit in real well with the defense. I’ll play whatever position, nose (tackle) or defensive end.  I feel that I will work as hard as possible to try to make the team better. The goal is to win and I want to win.”

Where He Fits – Ellis will start out as Sione Pouha’s primary backup and a rotational player on the defensive line. He will be battling players like Marcus Dixon and Ropati Pitoitua for reps and looking to increase his role as the season goes on.

Best Case Scenario – He pushes Pouha for reps and begins to develop into the Jets long term answer at the nose tackle position by putting together a productive rookie year as a key part of their defensive line rotation.

Worst Case Scenario – His character concerns rear their ugly head and he never plays a meaningful rep for the team.