2) Wide Receiver Greg Salas
After just recently writing about Salas, I have come to the conclusion that he should be on the 53-man roster.
Salas was acquired via a signing off the Philadelphia Eagles’ practice squad, last season, and has shown a lot of potential in limited showing. The 25 year old should theoretically be hitting his prime, and after a receiving average of 17.9 yards in 2013, that upside could lead to some very necessary big plays on offense.
After drafting three receivers in the 2014 NFL Draft, fans may think the Jets are not confident in a guy like Salas. However, it is important to remember that eight players can be added to the team’s practice squad and the Jets did have and use 12 picks, after all. I also believe that draftee wide receivers Shaq Evans and Quincy Enunwa are currently practice squad possibilities, leaving only Jalen Saunders as a potential opening day roster member.
Competition — With Eric Decker and Jeremy Kerley being shoo-ins for the depth chart, there will be three to four available openings, depending on the allocation of other positions. David Nelson should be given another season of work, after a nice late-season showing, thus leaving two to three openings. That means that Stephen Hill, Clyde Gates, Jacoby Ford, Saalim Hakim, Michael Campbell, Saunders, and Salas will fight it out, based on my projections. It’ll be tough, but I believe he does enough to earn his keep.
1) Nose Tackle TJ Barnes
At six feet and seven inches tall with 364 lbs of sheer mass, Barnes is not the kind of player that an offensive lineman wants to be assigned against.
On October 9th, the New York Jets added Barnes to their practice squad after he was released from the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Entering the NFL last season, Barnes was a really big dude that earned himself an undrafted free agent contract because…well…he’s a really big dude. But Barnes was also very raw, and size can only get you so far in the NFL, where there is always something bigger and stronger. His greatest test to earn a place on the 53-man roster, at a position that is stacked with Damon ‘Snacks’ Harrison and Kenrick Ellis, will be his ability to become fundamentally solid.
“The biggest challenge for me is I hate watching, that’s where you gain a lot of knowledge because you’re learning from other people’s mistakes and it improves your own habits. But I always like playing,” Barnes said.
“It’s cool just being around the guys, I think they’re starting to take to me a lot, a little bit more every day, and just being with them, it’s always funny. Somebody on the D-line always has a joke to say off the field. On the field we’re still joking and laughing but it’s business and we take our jobs very seriously. There’s no place I’d rather be.” (NewYorkJets.com, June 24)
It is that kind of passion and camaraderie that often forces Rex Ryan’s hand into allowing a player a shot in his complicated defense.
Should Barnes be able to take the next step — following half a regular season and full offseason of training — it could mean that Kenrick Ellis hits the market. Ellis was named the Jets’ ‘Secret Superstar’ by ProFootballFocus.com, on a team headlined by its defensive line starters. Surely a starting-caliber player like Ellis would provide some value to a team looking to bolster their talent at his position.