21-Year-Old Tag Champion Listed as ‘Player to Watch’ for Jets: Insider

Zonovan Knight, NC State

Getty Former NC State running back Zonovan Knight taking a moment to appreciate his work on the football field.

All of the players that heard their names called on draft day by the New York Jets are getting a lot of love.

Deservedly so for all of the hard work they put in over the last batch of years at the collegiate level.

However, some of the players that joined the team by unorthodox means are floating under the radar and could surprise during the 2022 season.

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A Player Worth Circling

After the Jets wrapped up the 2022 NFL draft, they immediately went to work on the undrafted free agent market.

Gang Green officially announced ahead of rookie minicamp that they had signed five guys to the 90-man roster including running back Zonovan Knight out of NC State.

The 21-year-old is affectionately known by his nickname ‘Bam’. His uncle gave him that moniker because he used to make “bam-bam” sounds from banging around his toys as a kid, per Dane Brugler of The Athletic.

Despite some impressive statistics during his three years with the Wolfpack, he went undrafted in the 2022 class:

  • 2,623 yards from scrimmage
  • 18 total touchdowns
  • 5.5 yards per rush

While he may not have been drafted, Knight is still a player the Jets have circled.

Nick Baumgardner of The Athletic said as much in a recent column picking out the best UDFA fits with every NFL team:

“Terrific agility with some big-time kick-return potential, Knight had kickoff return TDs of 100 and 97 yards last season. He had another 100-yard return in 2020. He’s more of a gadget than an every-down, package-based weapon. But he could have terrific special teams value in New York and, maybe, something more.”

When Brugler described him in The Beast NFL draft guide he said, Knight “hates to be tackled and was undoubtedly the tag champion in his neighborhood growing up.”

The Path to PT

The top of the Jets backfield is locked in with a brand new 1-2 punch featuring Breece Hall and Michael Carter sharing the workload.

Although in this Mike LaFleur scheme, they like having a lot of different backs that can bring varied skill sets to the table.

Knight brings a “rocked up build”, per Brugler, and checks off a lot of boxes:

  • Played in every game over the last three years
  • Zero drops this past season
  • One of the best-missed tackle rates in 2021

The versatility and affinity for big plays on special teams make Knight a favorite to not only make the 53-man roster but be a key cog in 2022.

While Gang Green does have an All-Pro return man in Braxton Berrios, Knight would provide excellent insurance and a nice change of pace option whenever Berrios needs a breather.

I’ve always heard from coaches that the more feathers you have in your cap, the more attractive you’re to NFL teams.

With that Knight has the edge on several other running backs that are currently on the roster. The only two locks are MC1 and Hall, all of the other spots are up for grabs.

La’Mical Perine seems like a dead man walking with the changing of schemes and lack of investment from the coaching staff. Tevin Coleman is a nice veteran to have in the locker room and is intimately familiar with the scheme.

The coaching staff really likes Ty Johnson, but some of his brutal drops last year and the added bodies this offseason have his future looking extremely murky.

In other words, the path to a roster spot and role in this offense is there to be had for Knight with a strong offseason.

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