OTAs are officially over for the New York Jets. Those voluntary workouts were the biggest component of the offseason ahead of training camp in late July.
Before we get to mandatory minicamp on Tuesday, let’s take a look at some of the winners that stood out from the rest.
You’ve heard all the big names already:
- Zach Wilson looked comfortable as the lead signal-caller for the Jets.
- Elijah Moore is a budding star that continues to make noise.
What about the little guys? It’s time to focus on all the top under-the-radar prospects that stood out from the rest of the group.
Under the Radar Guys Who Have Popped
Tanzel Smart, defensive tackle
A lot of you may be asking yourself, who?! Tanzel Smart is a 6-foot-1, 295-pound defensive tackle who originally came into the league as a sixth-round draft choice out of Tulane.
The 26-year old has bounced around the league over the last few years with four different teams including his latest stint with the Jets. He’s got some versatility and that should benefit him as he attempts to make this roster.
The most challenging part of his journey is completely out of Smart’s control. This Jets defensive line is DEEP. It’s perhaps the richest positional group on the entire roster. Regardless of how well the veteran plays, he faces long odds to make the roster.
JT Hassell, safety
JT Hassell or Ed Reed it’s hard to tell? I’m kidding, kind of. Hassell has continued to make big-time plays during OTAs.
During a team period a few weeks ago, Hassell seemingly baited rookie quarterback Zach Wilson on a seam route intended for Daniel Brown, but undercut it and picked it off.
During another instance at practice, tight end Chris Herndon made a boneheaded mistake dropping a pass that jumped right into the waiting arms of Hassell.
When you create a takeaway on the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft, you’re going to raise a few eyebrows. With no Marcus Maye so far this offseason, the former Florida Tech product has taken full advantage of his reps.
Manasseh Bailey, wide receiver
This is another guy you’re probably Googling right now and I don’t blame you. Manasseh Bailey is a former undrafted free agent that signed a future contract with the Jets back in January.
While he’s buried on the depth chart and has been working exclusively with the second and third-team respectively, Bailey has impressed. A former basketball standout that jumped into football late. He initially started his football career on the defensive side of the ball before transitioning to receiver.
Bryce Huff, EDGE rusher
This isn’t as surprising as some of the other players on this list. Bryce Huff is an undrafted free agent find from 2020 that has continued to impress. Carving out a starting role probably isn’t very realistic, but in this scheme, with Robert Saleh, he should get plenty of opportunities to show his mettle.
For some of these positions, it’s really hard to really stand out in a t-shirt and shorts during non-padded and non-contact drills. Yet Huff continues to pop for all the right reasons.
Isaiah Dunn, cornerback
The green and white have refused to add a veteran to their cornerback group. While that may seem like a puzzling choice, they want to let these young guys develop. One player that has continued to make waves is Isaiah Dunn the undrafted free agent corner out of Oregon State.
A UDFA making a roster would be a big deal, but his expectations are even higher than that. There’s a belief inside that building he could steal a starting gig at cornerback. The starters are in pencil in the middle of June which opens the door for Dunn to make his presence known.
Which under-the-radar free agent has impressed you the most? Who are you rooting for to make the final 53 man roster? Reach us anytime on Facebook @HeavyOnJets, or Twitter @BoyGreen25 and @obermuller_nyj.