Jets Draft Pick in Danger After Addition of Tarik Cohen: Analyst

Tarik Cohen, Bears

Getty Former Chicago Bears running back Tarik Cohen trying to make a play during an NFL game.

On Wednesday, May 29 the New York Jets added veteran running back Tarik Cohen to the roster.

Robby Sabo of Jets X-Factor believes that is bad news for second-year playmaker Israel Abanikanda. On social media, he reacted to the Cohen addition by saying, “Not a great sign for him that Tarik Cohen is in the house.”

Things Are Going From Bad to Worse

Things already weren’t looking good for Abanikanda before this Cohen addition. Now things look even more bleak.

In the 2024 NFL draft, general manager Joe Douglas grabbed not one but two running backs on the third day.

Since Douglas took over the team’s drafting in 2020, there has only ever been one occasion that he has ever cut a rookie in the same year that they were drafted. Zack Kuntz, a seventh-round draft choice last year, was cut but immediately brought back on the practice squad the next day.

That means 30 of the 31 players he drafted between 2020 and 2023 all made the team. In other words, 99% of the time the rookies he selects end up making the team.

That would mean Braelon Allen and Isaiah Davis are likely roster locks along with Breece Hall. I’ve spoken to multiple team insiders this offseason on “Boy Green Daily” and they’re split on whether or not the team will keep three or four running backs on the final 53-man roster.

That leaves Cohen and Abanikanda likely duking it out for the final roster spot if there even is a spot to fight over.

Robert Saleh Reacts to the Cohen-Jets Pairing

Shortly after the Cohen news broke on social media, head coach Robert Saleh had his media availability on Wednesday, May 29.

“Tarik is an explosive playmaker. He is starting to get back healthy. With the new kickoff rules these kick returners are going to touch the ball over 100 times a year which is significant, at least that’s what we are anticipating. A guy like him who is still young, obviously coming off of his injuries, but we are excited to have him aboard,” Saleh explained.

Ari Meirov of The 33rd Team provided some context to Saleh’s stat projections. He revealed that the Green Bay Packers led the league last year with 31 kick returns. Saleh expects that number to triple which would increase the importance of that role on a football team.

Cohen without a doubt has a more impressive NFL resume than any other return man on the roster, but he will have to earn his place. For now, Saleh said wide receiver Xavier Gipson has “first dibs” on the “open battle” for who will be the top Jets return threat.

Saleh revealed that special teams coordinator Brant Boyer was “pumped” up about the Cohen addition. Saleh, speaking from a defensive perspective, said Cohen was a “nightmare” to defend when they played against him when he was still a member of the Bears.

It’s an interesting dart throw by the Jets. Cohen hasn’t played in the NFL since 2020 due to a wide array of injury issues, but when healthy has proven to be a dynamic piece on offense and special teams.

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