5 Undrafted Free Agents Who Could Make the New York Jets Roster
5 Undrafted Free Agents that Could Make the New York Jets Roster
Every year, scores of NFL hopefuls go undrafted, casting serious doubt on their future in football. However, teams sign many of these undrafted free agents and give them a chance to prove themselves in training camp. The vast majority of these players have very little chance of making the team, but for some, a strong preseason can steal a roster spot.
There are many stories around the league of undrafted players that turned out to be very good pros. Pro Bowlers such as Arian Foster, James Harrison and Wes Welker all went undrafted, and every team in the league regrets missing out on those players.
For the New York Jets, the emergence of an undrafted free agent or two would be a huge boost to their depleted pool of talent. The Jets are beginning a rebuilding process, and part of that process is to find young talent that can be developed into quality players.
The Jets have several undrafted free agents in training camp who have a legitimate shot at making the final roster. All of them must outplay the veterans ahead of them on the depth chart, but rebuilding teams like the Jets are willing to give young players a fair shot to prove themselves.
For each of these players, making the roster is going to be difficult. However, all have played well in camp, and if they can translate their practice performances to the remaining preseason games, then there is a good chance one or two of these names will be in uniform in Week 1.
C Dalton Freeman
Dalton Freeman was a very solid center for Clemson, and it was somewhat of a surprise that he went undrafted. However, the Jets were more than happy to scoop him up and bring him into camp to be the backup to Pro Bowl center Nick Mangold.
Freeman was actually a near lock to make the team before he suffered an ankle injury in camp. With Freeman injured, the Jets brought in Erik Cook as insurance at the center position. If Freeman can get healthy and play in at least two of the remaining preseason games, he could salvage his chance at making the roster.
If Freeman is healthy, he will likely make the team. If he’s not, however, the Jets are not going to save a roster spot for an injured undrafted free agent. The backup center battle will be interesting in the coming weeks, and everything rides on Freeman’s health.
TE Chris Pantale
Tight end Chris Pantale is probably member of the list who is least likely to make the team. The Jets are set with their top two tight ends, so Pantale is in a battle with Konrad Reuland and Hayden Smith for the final roster spot.
Pantale is a well-rounded tight end, which is crucial to his chances. The Jets are looking for a blocker with their third tight end spot, and if Pantale can demonstrate his abilities in that area, then he could have a chance. Pantale also made a nice catch down the seam in the Jets’ first preseason game against the Detroit Lions, and more of the same would obviously help.
In the end, Pantale is going to have to do something special to beat out Reuland. However, he will be given a fair shot in the coming weeks because the Jets are not going to overwork Jeff Cumberland and Kellen Winslow. Pantale may be a long shot, but he does have a chance.
OLB Sean Progar
Sean Progar is the type of player who has a real chance of making the roster because of the team needs. The Jets’ pass rush was atrocious last season, and Progar is the type of rush linebacker who could come in and make a difference on passing downs.
Progar was very productive in college, totaling 24 sacks in his four seasons at Northern Illinois. The Jets are desperate to find a productive pass rusher, and Progar will get a chance to unseat Garrett McIntyre or Ricky Sapp in the Jets’ linebacking corps.
Progar wasn’t given a ton of time against the Lions, but expect his reps to increase Saturday night. With Progar, it is very simple: if he gets to the quarterback consistently, he could make the team. If he doesn’t, he has no chance.
WR Zach Rogers
Zach Rogers was overshadowed at Tennessee by Cordarrelle Patterson and Justin Hunter, who respectively went in the first and second rounds of the draft. However, Rogers was very productive out of the slot next to those two bigger name players, catching seven TDs his senior season.
Rogers will have to contribute on special teams as well, as the Jets already have a very good slot receiver in Jeremy Kerley. However, the team likes to move Kerley around and the West Coast offense can always use another good route runner with reliable hands. Both of those things work in Rogers’ favor.
What doesn’t work in his favor, however, is the terrible drop he had against Detroit. Rogers was wide open on a deep pass and let it go right through his hands. Mistakes like that can end an undrafted rookie’s chance immediately. He needs a big game Saturday, or he will be in trouble.
WR Ryan Spadola
I’ve written this several times before, but I’ll say it again: Ryan Spadola is the breakout star of camp and I believe that not only does he have a chance to make the team, but he will make the team. Spadola is the classic case of an overlooked small-school player who just needed a chance to prove he could hang with best.
Spadola is in a battle with Rogers and veterans Braylon Edwards and Ben Obomanu for the final wide receiver spots. Two of those players will make the team and two won’t. Spadola should be one of those players, and the Jets would be smart to go with the young guy with potential.
The Jets are desperate to find quality receivers on the outside. Spadola has repeatedly shown in camp that he can be that, and with solid performances in the next three games, he should begin the year on the 53-man roster.