Jets’ HC Robert Saleh Could Add an Ex-LSU Project to Defense

JaCoby Stevens LSU

Getty Ex-LSU defender JaCoby Stevens celebrating after a huge play on the football field.

The 2021 preseason is officially in the books for the New York Jets and that gives the team a head start on putting together the final puzzle pieces for the 53-man roster.

My advice? Buckle your seatbelt because there is going to be a ton of action over the next couple of days.

By Tuesday, August 31 every NFL team must slash their roster down from 80 to 53 players. Do the math. Over 864 players are about to go from the employment line to the unemployment line.

This is a sad time in the league, but a necessary component that happens every offseason. It also presents a unique opportunity to comb through the waiver wire to add a ton of new pieces to the 2021 puzzle.

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Double Dip With the Same Philosophy

The Jets are coming off a 2-14 season and with that comes a lot of roster holes. One of the biggest is at linebacker.

The only starter you feel great about is CJ Mosley who is a proven commodity and even he has some concerns. He hasn’t played football in essentially two years although the 29-year old has looked terrific in camp.

The other two spots are total question marks with day three picks slotted in as starters in Jamien Sherwood out of Auburn and Hamsah Nasirildeen out of Florida State.

This offseason the Jets had several opportunities to add premium talent to the position with multiple high draft selections and over $75 million in cap space. Instead Jets head coach Robert Saleh opted for traits over a prior track record.

With a slew of players becoming available in the next couple of days, he may opt to double down on his original strategy.

Ex-LSU Star Could Shake Free

Everyone is posting a handful of 53-man roster projections across the league and one player that is consistently on the outside looking in is Philadelphia Eagles linebacker, JaCoby Stevens.

The Jets just participated in a pair of joint practices and during that time they got to really study the Philly roster. Those practice opportunities provided a unique opportunity to get inside information.

Stevens played both safety and wide receiver during his time with the LSU Tigers before permanently staying at defensive back as a sophomore. How highly regarded was he as a prospect?

After Ja’Marr Chase opted out last season, Stevens was chosen to wear the famous No. 7 at LSU which is annually doled out to the biggest playmaker on the team.

This past April he was selected with the No. 224 overall pick in the sixth round of the 2021 NFL draft. The Eagles, similar to coach Saleh, immediately converted him from defensive back to linebacker.

That’s a project that the Jets have employed with several players on this year’s roster including Sherwood and Nasirildeen. With the lack of depth due to injuries, this would be a worthwhile swing of the bat to add an athletic player to the linebacking corps if he shakes free.

This is a very intriguing piece of clay that’ll require the proper coaching and situation to get the most out of him at the NFL level. The versatility to line up all over the defense should pique the interest of the Jets.

The more things you can do, the more attractive you are as a player on the 53-man roster.

Some other players to keep an eye out for:

Nick Mullens, quarterback

The Jets actually got a very solid showing from Josh Johnson during the preseason finale, but they could be intrigued with a familiar face. Mullens has scheme familiarity and knows the Jets’ coaching staff well.

He was just released following the trade of Gardner Minshew from Jacksonville. He would make sense, but we’ll see how the Jets feel about him. Remember Mullens was sitting on the open market for a long time this offseason and the Jets never made a move.

Hakeem Butler, wide receiver

Another former Eagles player that has always tickled my fancy. Butler is a dreamy prospect that will wow you with his measurables: 6-foot-5, 227 pounds.

His size and traits were enough to warrant a fourth-round draft selection back in 2019, but he wasn’t able to stick. Butler entered the league as a wide receiver but has flirted with a positional switch to tight end.

This would be a fun dart throw, but the Jets are stacked at wide receiver. It’ll be hard for the current crop to make the roster let alone a new guy.

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