Over the years there have been a variety of relative unknowns that have flashed during offseason workouts for the New York Jets.
Sometimes those players have gone on to great success and other times they have fizzled out.
Another player joined that elite group this week in mandatory minicamp.
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A Surprising Outburst
“Jeff Smith was unquestionably the star of these practices. He was everywhere throughout organized team activities and minicamp. He worked in with the first-team offense and seemed to get open no matter who matched up against him. He was at his best Wednesday, catching two long touchdowns. The first came in full-team drills, where he found himself behind the defense on a wheel route. The second was a much more challenging grab over corner Bryce Hall in seven-on-seven drills.”
The former Boston College standout originally entered the league as an undrafted free agent back in 2019. He has spent his entire career with the green and white.
In three seasons he has racked up 26 catches for 292 yards but has yet to score a touchdown.
Although the reason he has been a roster mainstay has been his abilities on special teams. The coaching staff loves him and it helps that he is intimately familiar with the offense.
Smith started out his college career as a quarterback but transitioned to the wide receiver position ahead of his sophomore campaign:
- 902 rushing yards
- 1,078 receiving yards
- 18 total touchdowns from scrimmage
With that uber-athletic background, the organization believes there is untapped potential beneath the surface for the 25-year-old.
The Path to Playing Time
As we know one or two injuries can totally change that dynamic and if it does, Smith could be seeing some meaningful reps.
Although Hughes noted that if this exciting play from OTAs and minicamp continues, he could jump into the rotation regardless of injuries:
“Mike LaFleur will need to find ways to get Smith on the field if he performs in training camp as he did during the voluntary workouts.”
Right now he is battling for that fifth/sixth wide receiver spot with Denzel Mims who has also popped during some of these offseason workouts.
“He’ll need to show he deserves a spot on the roster,” said Hughes. “Which could easily come down to either him or Smith.”
Smith having a strong background in special teams certainly gives him the edge at this point.
While there is a likelihood that both players could end up on the final 53-man roster, it is too early to determine how the roster will break up with training camp and preseason games still to come.
Smith though could prove to be a hidden gem for this team.
He is on a one-year deal for $780,000 and is set to be an unrestricted free agent in 2023.