Zach Rogers was a productive wide receiver at the University of Tennessee, catching seven touchdowns in his senior season. Overshadowed by stars Cordarrelle Patterson and Justin Hunter, Rogers went undrafted before landing with the New York Jets as a free agent. Rogers is a good slot receiver, and he was though to have a good shot at making the Jets’ final roster.
Rogers has impressed in practice, and he has been solid in the Jets’ preseason games. However, he has made a few costly mistakes, and those are likely to cost him a roster spot.
The first came in the preseason opener, when Rogers was wide open on a deep route and let the ball go right through his hands. For many undrafted free agents, a mistake such as that can be the end of their tryout. However, the Jets were high on Rogers and were willing to give him another chance. Rogers was reasonably effective in his limited role in the next two games, but he had to make a major impression in the preseason finale.
Rogers caught four passes for 40 yards against the Philadelphia Eagles, but unfortunately, he made two crucial mistakes. First, he dropped another wide-open deep ball, watching the safety instead of the ball. Second, Rogers muffed a punt at the end of the game. If he had caught it, the Jets were a pair of kneel downs away from victory. Instead, the Eagles got a touchdown out of it. In this case, it didn’t cost the Jets the game, but it is the kind of mistake no coaching staff will tolerate.
Rogers is a good young player, and he has some potential as an NFL slot receiver. Unfortunately, these simple mistakes mean that he has almost no chance of making the Jets active roster. He will likely get a chance on the practice squad, but that is far from where he wants to be. Such is the life of an undrafted free agent. One or two mistakes is all it takes to cost you a roster spot, and that kind of pressure is too much for many of these young players to handle.
Rogers is not a unique story by any means, but it is still unfortunate to see a player lose out on a roster spot because of a few mental mistakes. Stories such as these are cautionary tales to the next crop of undrafted rookies, because there is no margin for error.