The New York Jets appear to have a logjam on the defensive line and those covering the team have offered various solutions.
One is to trade a cheap, promising talent like Bryce Huff or Tim Ward earlier in training camp. Another is to cut a grizzled veteran like Vinny Curry. Or the Jets could just wait out the inevitable preseason injury that always seems to occur.
When you have 15 or so strong candidates for nine or 10 jobs, tough decisions are bound to happen and an NYJ media member made a very bold assertion on July 5.
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Is Clemons’ Roster Spot in Question?
If you spend a draft pick on a prospect — especially a fourth-round selection — the expectation is that the said player will make the 53-man roster but Jets X-Factor co-founder and media representative Robby Sabo isn’t so sure.
During a roster projection, the long-time analyst wrote:
At this point, I would not even consider rookie Micheal Clemons a lock to make the initial 53-man roster. If not for rookie status, Curry clearly owns the advantage.
It was a shocking statement but that’s what happens when you have a position as deep as the Jets’ D-line. Sabo did choose Clemons over Curry for his final answer, but even the thought of a mid-round pick being cut probably gives most fans Jachai Polite vibes.
That was a different regime, however. This same Jets coaching staff kept sixth-rounder Jonathan Marshall in 2021, despite him practically redshirting his rookie campaign. They also made sure UDFA Isaiah Dunn was on the 53 to start the year.
The same will probably happen with Clemons. The Texas A&M product looks like a pass rusher that has real potential and he could end up being a versatile piece for the franchise.
Sabo agreed, admitting: “Carl Lawson and Jermaine Johnson may be the only two locks, interestingly. And while [Robert] Saleh would love to keep Vinny Curry, it’ll be tough to keep him in tow if no injuries occur.”
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Speaking of Cuts…
A Clemons cut would probably be extremely unlikely but Sabo believes a 2021 draft pick’s release could happen.
Within the article, the Jets X-Factor boss predicted that Marshall will be one of the odd men out on the defensive line. Drafted as a developmental prospect, many are pegging the athletic Arkansas product as the man that could eventually take over for Foley Fatukasi.
I guess Sabo does not see it. He explained that it’s “clear as day” that Quinnen Williams will play the one-technique, nose tackle type role in this leaner 4-3 front.
“Big Q and Sheldon Rankins will move down,” Sabo detailed, “as will John Franklin-Myers, who—based on roster construction—might be in store for a full-time inside role (3-tech). Solomon Thomas is the other extremely talented 3-tech. Although Tanzel Smart and Jonathan Marshall have a shot, this staff loves Nathan Shepherd.”
That last name, Shepherd, should be the main competition for Marshall. Of course, one could argue that Rankins and Thomas aren’t completely safe either.