Who doesn’t love a good underdog story?
The New York Jets as a franchise has embraced that moniker since its inception, now it’s time for some of the players to jump on the bandwagon.
Heading into training camp each NFL team can have a maximum of 90 players on its roster. Although the roster cuts will work a tad differently in 2021:
- August 17: 90 to 85 players
- August 24: 85 to 80 players
- August 31: 80 to 53 players
This format is built around the new three-week preseason schedule.
With that in mind, we are embracing the Madden video game franchise’s “longshot” angle. These five players are longshots to make the final 53 man roster for the Jets. It doesn’t mean these players won’t make it, it just means their path will be much more difficult.
Top 5 Longshots To Make the Jets Final 53
5. La’Mical Perine, running back
Perine was originally a fourth-round draft choice out of Florida during the 2020 NFL draft. He played in 10 games but never started one. It was a complicated weird backfield led by Le’Veon Bell and the whole thing was unproductive.
Sadly for Perine, it didn’t work out under Adam Gase. The offense was terrible and Perine didn’t have any real opportunities, but the limited ones he did have he underwhelmed. Now in 2021, the former Gator enters a system that doesn’t fit him nor his strengths. It’ll be an uphill battle, despite the lack of proven commodities in the backfield, to make this roster.
4. James Morgan, quarterback
This one may initially seem like an odd choice, but like in the game of chess, you have to think several moves ahead. Morgan is currently one of only three quarterbacks on the roster including rookie Zach Wilson and journeyman Mike White. Although it is widely expected the Jets will add a veteran at some point this offseason, likely closer to training camp.
When that inevitably happens, Morgan and White will immediately be on the chopping block. Morgan was also a fourth-rounder from the 2020 NFL draft out of FIU. He was inactive for his entire 2020 rookie campaign. Who knows what he is, but his prior draft status won’t guarantee him a roster spot this Fall.
3. Nathan Shepherd, defensive lineman
Shepherd is a victim of his circumstances. The Jets’ defensive line is arguably their deepest unit on the entire roster. While some players may not make the final 53 for the Jets because of depth, that doesn’t mean they won’t end up on another NFL roster in 2021.
The former third-rounder is older than your typical player heading into his fourth season (27), but he has shown some positive signs over the last two years (totaling 4.5 sacks during that span). General manager Joe Douglas has zero ties to the former Fort Hays State star, but we’ll see if he can overcome that to lock in one of those precious spots.
Some Real Offensive Gems
2. Kenny Yeboah, tight end
Yeboah was a projected day three pick coming out of Ole Miss, yet somehow he fell through the cracks and landed in undrafted free agency. He and his representation sifted through their offers and chose to sign with the Jets.
The tight end room for Gang Green is littered with bodies and question marks. That’s the main reason Yeboah decided to sign here because he saw an opportunity. He’s talented as heck and while he’s a long shot to make the roster, if he makes it, Yeboah could prove to be a true diamond in the rough that contributes during his rookie campaign.
1. Vyncint Smith, wide receiver
This is the first time in a long time that we’ve ever said Jets, deep, and wide receiver all in the same sentence. Yet it’s a fitting description for this positional group. With that as the backdrop, it’s going to be tough to make the backend of this roster at wideout.
The one thing Vyncint Smith has going for him is elite speed. He ran a 4.36 at his Pro Day and that will separate him from the rest of the pack (both literally and figuratively). Despite that rare gift, no one has been able to successfully unlock the hidden potential that lies beneath the surface. Perhaps Mike LaFleur and this new-look offense is the perfect solution.