As always, if you missed any of our recent expert roundtable chats, feel free to catch up below.
- Week 1: What to watch in training camp, Joe Douglas’ next moves.
- Week 2: Predicting every major training camp battle.
- Week 3: What Jet would you bet your career on? Love one, hate one, steal one.
- Week 4: Zach Wilson comparisons, roster bubble & how the Jets can contend.
- Week 5: Green & White scrimmage overreactions, preseason primer.
Today we’ll focus on some of the events of the past week (the NYJ unofficial depth chart release, C.J. Henderson trade block, and the battle at MetLife Stadium between the New York Giants and our New York Jets), with a look ahead at the first round of roster cuts on August 17.
Let’s dive in.
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Depth Chart Shocks & Trading Blocks
1. What surprised you most about the Jets’ initial “unofficial” depth chart?
Definitely the linebacker assignments. We all knew C.J. Mosley and Jarrad Davis were starters and Hamsah Nasirildeen being one is somewhat surprising, but it is where everyone was lined up. We all assumed Mosley would be the MIKE, but he has transitioned to SAM in this new scheme putting Davis in the middle to call the plays. I didn’t see that one coming, but upon further review, I like the call.
Jets head coach Robert Saleh cut his teeth as a linebacker whisperer so if anyone deserves the benefit of the doubt on any linebacker decisions it is probably him. I’m excited to see how all of that plays out throughout the last leg of the offseason.
I 100% agree with Boy Green’s pick. In fact, I was so shocked that I didn’t even notice Mosley was moved to SAM until after my partner informed me of the switch. Aside from the Jets linebackers, there were a couple of things that I thought of as odd including Tyler Kroft at TE3 and Michael Carter at RB4, but I understand those things could update as the preseason rolls along.
One thing that I do not understand whatsoever is Lamar Jackson at second-team cornerback. Whenever I hear Jackson’s name in practice or a game, he’s getting burnt. Remember, this is the same guy that was famously duped by a Henry Ruggs III double-move on a hail mary. Poor coaching or not, that CANNOT happen.
He also earned an atrocious 45.8 coverage grade from Pro Football Focus in 2020. Rookie fifth-rounder Jason Pinnock and popular UDFA Isaiah Dunn are both behind Jackson on the initial depth chart, which just seems impossible to me.
2. We talked about the possibility of a trade for cornerback C.J. Henderson last week with four different player packages suggested by NFL executives around the league, which player would you deal if you were Joe Douglas and the Jaguars were interested in any of the four packages?
Fascinating question and we asked this as a Twitter poll to the fans and the responses were super interesting. For me personally, if the Jaguars were willing to bite I’d move veteran wideout, Jamison Crowder. Now obviously it takes two to tango so if you give up an older player you’d have to sweeten the pot with a better draft pick and I’d be open to including the future Seattle Seahawks 2022 first-rounder.
Henderson is an ultra-talented player that was just a top-10 pick in the 2020 NFL draft. The Jets corners are extremely inexperienced as we have discussed throughout the offseason. The former Florida Gator would be an immediate upgrade and I like how one executive put it, “you’d get your first-round pick in advance” by acquiring him.
The people have SPOKEN. I feel like Boy Green and I have a friendly rivalry when it comes to Chris Herndon because I can’t stand him and Paul’s the self-proclaimed ‘President of the Herndon fan club,’ so obviously I agree with the answers in the poll above. First of all, I like the Jets corners but always think that when you can add talent to an area of need, you do it. For that reason, Douglas should be making calls about Henderson until Jacksonville tells us he’s no longer available.
As for the deal, I would be okay with cutting Herndon, so if an NFL executive tells me that the Jags might take him off my hands (along with two picks) for a top-two cornerback from last year’s draft class, you can bet that I’d be all over that. I agree with my partner that Crowder would be my second choice being that he’s a free agent next year, but parting with a first-rounder is tough. I would never send John Franklin-Myers in this trade and I’d only move Denzel Mims if he dropped the draft capital to a fourth-rounder or lower — not a second.
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Snoopy Bowl Standouts: Positive & Negative
3. Name one or two lower-profile players (not Carl Lawson or Wilson types) that stood out to you in a positive way during Saturday’s Jet-Giants bout.
I’m just glad we had a preseason football game to talk about for the first time in two years. The fans were great and the game was fantastic. There were a lot of players that impressed me but I’ll start way off the reservation with middle linebacker Jamien Sherwood. While he did lead the team in tackles with four, it wasn’t what he did on defense, it was what he did on special teams. He has the potential to be a star on that side of the ball and it won’t win many headlines but it will carve out a nice long NFL career.
The other player that impressed me also did great work on special teams. Wide receiver Vyncint Smith prevented a punt from going into the end zone and successfully knocked it out of bounds at the one. On top of his selflessness on that play, he also brings a speed element to this passing attack which I think gives him a great chance to make the roster as the last wideout.
We kind of touched on it yesterday, but for me, it was two defensive tackles — Jonathan Marshall and Michael Dwumfour.
I’ve been really excited about Marshall all summer and it was great to finally see him on the field. The imposing nose tackle scored a 9.99 out of 10.0 on his Relative Athletic Score (RAS) during the NFL scouting process. For those that aren’t familiar with RAS, it’s a cumulative average that compares a player’s athleticism to every other prospect scouted at their position since 1987. That means that in relation to every other defensive tackle prospect of the last 34 years, Marshall ranks 0.01 away from a perfect score, making him a certified athletic freak of nature.
Dwumfour is a local Rutgers guy that was born and raised in New Jersey, so he’ll have the support of many Jets fans behind him I’m sure. I felt he was a victim of circumstance, being that Gang Green is stacked on the D-line, but maybe I counted him out too soon. P.S. Dwumfour left the game with an injury, so we’ll have to monitor his return to action.
4. Name one or two players of any status that stood out to you in a negative way in the first preseason game.
Dan Feeney, the cult hero who amazed Jets fans this offseason with his beer-chugging and rallying cries, was absolutely abysmal in the preseason opener. Feeney started at left guard for the missing Alijah Vera-Tucker who is dealing with a pec injury and he was extremely underwhelming. Multiple times he got blown off the line of scrimmage which left Wilson running for his life.
The game of musical chairs also continues at the kicker spot. Chris Naggar got two chances and he nailed a 30-yarder (yippee) before a horribly shanked 53-yard attempt later in the game. I’m just not excited about any kicker on the roster and I don’t see that changing throughout the preseason. Hopefully, someone shakes free during roster cuts because this could be another topsy turvy year at that spot for the Jets.
Couldn’t agree more on Naggar, what a pitiful attempt he took on that 53-yarder, but I’ll go a different direction. I was mostly pleased with the Jets performance, although there were certainly some things to clean up. Kenny Yeboah is one player that I’ve been hoping to see something out of and it just hasn’t come. He reminded me of Herndon after fumbling a short catch-and-run opportunity in the flats. The priority UDFA turned upfield and was creamed by two Giants defenders, causing the football to pop free. Big Blue would have taken it to the house if not for an arm tackle by third-string QB James Morgan.
Speaking of Morgan, he was incredibly unimpressive yet again. The 2020 fourth-round pick (that I once thought highly of before the Jets drafted him) was missing wide-open receivers left and right on Saturday night. At this point, Morgan seems like a total waste of a draft pick.
Predicting the First 5 Roster Cuts
5. The Jets must cut five players on August 17, going from a 90-man roster down to 85, predict the five first cuts with brief explanations for each.
Zane Lewis (CB), Air Force; there’s a lot of volatility at the position but Lewis has been a snooze fest throughout camp and was a non-factor in the preseason game. He’s going, going gone.
Tanzel Smart (DT), Tulane; the depth is insane on the defensive line and somebody has to go. While Smart had some moments earlier in camp, it’s going to be extremely difficult to crack the rotation.
Austin Walter (RB), Rice; Walter had four attempts for *checks notes* -3 yards including a battle with the turf monster where he tripped after getting a handoff, then fumbled it when he got back to his feet. Fortunately, the Green & White maintained possession, but yikes! That’s a one-way ticket off the team.
Josh Malone (WR), Tennessee; there are too many wide receivers on this team and someone has to go. There seems to be a six-pack lock with the potential of one more wide-out breaking through, which means it’ll be tough pickings over the coming weeks.
Daniel Brown (TE), James Madison; the Jets could keep him for his special teams’ prowess, but there are too many bodies in that tight end room. It’s not a matter of if he’s going to go, it’s really a matter of when.
I do agree with a few of Boy Green’s selections, so I won’t re-hash those too much. Those similarities are Lewis, Malone and Brown. One note I’ll add about Malone is that he did have a touchdown in the Green & White scrimmage and offers ability on kick returns, but I just feel like the Jets have too many other options this year as Paul mentioned.
Walter had an awful game on Saturday but he’s coming off good practices that actually propelled him into more touches than Josh Adams. I think all six running backs stick around a little longer. Same with Smart; his veteran leadership has been highly regarded in camp and although I don’t think he’ll make the 53-man roster, I have him making this first cut. Below are my two additional cuts.
Del’Shawn Phillips (OLB), Illinois; between injuries and inefficiency, I see no way Douglas can justify keeping Phillips over more useful players.
Jeremiah Valoaga (DE/EDGE), UNLV; the Jets just took a flyer on Valoaga recently but he hasn’t made any waves in camp, could be a quick trip in-and-out of Florham Park for the defensive end.