New York Jets – Irresponsibly Early 53-man Roster Predictions

Dan Mosher takes a look at where the 53 man depth chart stands at the start of the New York Jets offseason program

With Rookie Minicamp in the books, the Jets spring and summer program is in full swing. Dan Mosher takes an irresponsibly early chance at predicting the Jets 53-man roster.

There are going to be some solid positional battles to watch out for during training camp this year, as the Jets have done a solid job at improving competition and depth across the roster this offseason.

Where will the chips land? Who knows, but since we’re months away from any real opportunity for evaluation, let’s take a wild stab in the dark.

Quarterback (2): 

Starter: Sam Darnold
Backup: Josh McCown

Analysis: If this is a truly open competition, I am fully expecting Darnold to prove himself to be the best signal caller on the roster. If that’s the case, there is no reason to stick him on the bench with a clipboard. The Jets are likely to cut Christian Hackenberg; and Teddy Bridgewater will either be unhealthy and cut, or healthy enough to be traded during preseason. The Jets should keep the QB room small and simple, it’s all about Darnold, why pretend otherwise? (Also make sure to check out Joe Blewett’s in-depth film review of Darnold’s 2017 season here!)

Running Back (3):

Starter: Bilal Powell
Backups: Isaiah Crowell, Eli McGuire

Analysis: Bilal Powell is the longest tenured member of the Jets roster. Despite that fact, and to the chagrin of fans, this will be the first time he comes into the season as the starter. McGuire offers a lesser version of Powell’s skillset, and Crowell will serve as an effective change of pace.

Fullback (1):

Starter: Dimitri Flowers

Analysis: This will be a fun camp battle as Flowers, the UDFA out of Oklahoma will have every chance to unseat converted DE Lawrence Thomas. Flowers offers more athleticism than Thomas, and if he makes the team, will likely be used in the same fashion as 49er’s fullback Kyle Juszczyk.

Wide Receiver (6):

Starters: Robby Anderson, Quincy Enunwa, Jermaine Kearse
Backups: Terrelle Pryor, ArDarius Stewart, Chad Hansen

Analysis: This is the top WR unit in the AFC East (feel free to @ me) and to be honest it’s not even close. Credit Mike Maccagnan who over the past year has really built a solid pass catching unit. Anderson took a monster step in his second year, and Kearse proved to be a reliable and respected leader. If Enunwa and Pryor return back to their pre-injury form, this unit will have four reliable threats for their new quarterback. Second year receivers Stewart and Hansen will have to earn their snaps, but to me their roster spots are fairly secured.

Tight End (3):

Starter: Chris Herndon
Backups: Eric Tomlinson, Jordan Leggett

Analysis: Similar to the situation at quarterback, there is no reason that Herndon shouldn’t be able to grab the starting role in an open competition. Tomlinson is an underrated player and the Jets love his blocking skills. After missing his rookie season, most people are ready to cut Leggett, I doubt Maccagnan is in that camp, though. I expect Leggett to keep his spot, although Clive Walford will surely make some waves in training camp.

Offensive Line (9):

Starters: Kelvin Beachum (LT), James Carpenter (LG), Spencer Long (C), Brian Winters (RG), Brandon Shell (RT).
Backups: Ben Ijalana (T), Brent Qvale (T), Dakota Dozier (G), Travis Swanson (C/G).

Analysis: This unit has decent potential if they can stay healthy. This is quite a big ‘if’, though considering the history of both Winters and Shell. As we saw last season, having poor center play will erode your entire line and while Long isn’t an all-pro talent, he is a certain upgrade from Wesley Johnson. Swanson was a quality depth signing that pushes versatile lineman Jonnathan Harrison off the final 53.

Defensive Line (7):

Starters: Leonard Williams (DE), Mike Pennel (DT), Steve McClendon (DE).
Backups: Henry Anderson (DE), Nathan Shepherd (DE), Xavier Cooper (DE), Foley Fatukasi (DT).

Analysis: At his press conference after day two of rookie camp, Todd Bowles alluded to the fact that in past seasons he didn’t think he had the depth to employ the true defensive line rotation that he wanted. Now though, Bowles believes that he can work his entire stable of lineman into the rotation, keeping everyone fresh throughout the game. The Jets have amassed several versatile players that can function both outside and inside and should be a bit more stout against the run than they were last season.

Linebackers (8): 

Starters: Jordan Jenkins (OLB), Avery Williamson (ILB), Darron Lee (ILB), Josh Martin (OLB).
Backups: Dylan Donahue (OLB), Kevin Pierre-Louis (ILB), Kevin Minter (ILB), David Bass (OLB).

Analysis: While the outside backers have remained unchanged during the offseason, the inside has gotten a serious lift with Williamson, perhaps Maccagnan’s best free agent signing of the offseason. (Check out Blewett’s film breakdown of Williamson here!). Donahue should work back into the rotation, if he can keep himself clean off the field.

Cornerbacks (6):

Starters: Trumaine Johnson, Morris Claiborne, Buster Skrine.
Backups: Darryl Roberts, Parry Nickerson, Rashad Robinson.

Analysis: Bowles finally gets a lockdown corner in Johnson, whose addition allows Skrine to move back into the slot where he was highly effective in 2015. 2017 sixth round picks Derrick Jones and Jeremy Clark will have the opportunity to snag their roster spots along with 2016 fourth round pick, Juston Burris, but Robinson is younger than all of them, and has more experience, despite never getting comfortable during limited action last season.

Safeties (4):

Starters: Jamal Adams, Marcus Maye.
Backups: Rontez Miles, Terrence Brooks.

Analysis: Pretty straightforward on this one. The depth chart stays the same as it was all last season. Doug Middleton will get another opportunity to secure a spot above Brooks; he has flashed in small spurts, but his inability to stay healthy has him running out of chances.

Specialists (4):

Kicker: Cairo Santos
Punter: Lachlan Edwards
Long Snapper: Thomas Hennessy
Returner: Trenton Cannon

Analysis: The Jets opt to keep a return specialist for the first time in the Todd Bowles era. Cannon offers extreme burst and could eventually work his way into a running back rotation that lacks true home-run speed. Santos should offer similar productivity that Chandler Catanzaro provided last season. Edwards will look to build on a great showing in 2017.