The New York Jets made some interesting decisions with their final roster cuts, and the overwhelming theme was a commitment to youth. The team kept 10 of their 12 draft picks, releasing several key veteran reserves in the process. John Idzik hates to cut his draft picks, but the Jets have to be concerned that they are not prepared to deal with injuries or poor play from their starters this season.
The least surprising decision was keeping rookie guard Dakota Dozier over veteran G/C Caleb Schlauderaff, who has been a solid backup for the Jets. Dozier will most likely be inactive for every game this season, but as a fourth round pick he was never in too much doubt for making the team. Keeping fifth round pick Jeremiah George over A.J. Edds as the fourth inside linebacker was surprising due to Edds’ excellent preseason, but he doesn’t have a long track record of NFL success.
The decisions at outside linebacker and wide receiver were much more surprising. At outside linebacker, there was no doubt that IK Enemkpali deserved to make the team despite missing the final two preseason games. However, keeping Trevor Reilly over Garrett McIntyre was a huge surprise, as McIntyre was thought to essentially be a lock for the team. McIntyre is a solid run defender and good special teamer who has played a big role for the Jets over the last three seasons. Quinton Coples still hasn’t developed as much as the Jets would like, and Calvin Pace and Jason Babin are on the tail end of their careers. Cutting McIntyre puts a ton of pressure of Enemkpali and Reilly to develop very quickly.
At receiver, it’s hard to imagine Quincy Enunwa will make much of an impact this season, as he is extremely raw. Keeping him over Stephen Hill and Clyde Gates comes as a surprise, because the Jets could have easily brought Enunwa back on the practice squad. Additionally, Enunwa is the seventh receiver, and his roster spot comes at the expense of players like Edds, McIntyre, Daryl Richardson and Matt Simms.
The only two rookies the Jets cut were Tajh Boyd and Brandon Dixon, neither of which were surprises. Boyd didn’t perform well enough to make the team, and Dixon has a long way to go in his development. However, it’s hard to argue that LeQuan Lewis offers more than Dixon, and Dixon is no more raw than Dozier or Enunwa. Cutting him isn’t surprising in and of itself, but in the context of the Jets’ other moves it is a bit strange.
Idzik does not part with his draft picks easily, and he has shown his commitment to developing them again this season. Obviously, it is in the Jets’ best interest for their draft picks to develop, but they have taken too many risks with their decisions in final cuts. Several of the players they kept could have been brought back and developed on the practice squad, allowing the veterans to provide the Jets with more reliable depth this season. It’s a big risk for the Jets, and they have to hope that they don’t need to call upon the players at the bottom of their roster before they’re ready.