What could the first 53-man roster look like for the Jets when final cuts are made ahead of the Sept. 11 opener against Cincinnati? I tried to work through the exercise on who GM Mike Maccagnan and coach Todd Bowles might look to keep for the regular season.
QUARTERBACK (4): Ryan Fitzpatrick, Geno Smith, Bryce Petty, Christian Hackenberg
Rundown: Bryce Petty played well in the second preseason game, but does it mean he is going to pass Geno Smith on the depth chart? I'm doubtful but at least seeing the progress with Petty. If the Jets were able to only keep three I could foresee them trying to trade Geno or if not, risk Petty to the practice squad for a few weeks.
RUNNING BACK (3): Matt Forte, Bilal Powell, Khiry Robinson
Rundown: The Jets are going to have to get creative with four quarterbacks on the roster and the first place to cut back would be in the same backfield. Forte is a competent work horse and Powell thrived in 2015 in the Chan Gailey offense. While Forte and Powell are more similar, the Jets interest in Khiry Robinson when he had a broken leg demonstrates that they want someone for short yardage and inside zone runs in a lower volume version of what Chris Ivory did in 2015.
FULLBACK (0): If the Jets keep a fullback, it's going to be Tommy Bohanon. The team seems to be trying him out more as a runner while Robinson recovers from his broken leg. It will be interesting to see if that continues once Robinson is all the way back. From what I saw in the second preseason game he might be playing himself off the roster especially if Robinson can get healthy.
WIDE RECEIVER (7): Eric Decker, Brandon Marshall, Kenbrell Thompkins, Quincy Enunwa, Robby Anderson, Charone Peake, Jeremy Ross, Devin Smith (PUP)
Rundown: I expect the Jets to start Smith on the PUP list which will give them some breathing room on their roster. Based on what I saw from Anderson Friday it's hard not to want to give Anderson the benefit of the doubt on making this roster as a fill-in for Smith until such a time as Smith can play. Jeremy Ross is the team's first-string kick and punt returner, but I believe that the returner for the regular season is not yet on the roster so while his spot is safe for now, cutdowns could force changes to returner. While Jalin Marshall had a good game a week ago, he was only able to haul in four of 10 targets and consistency is going to be the name of the game. The Jets might also be looking to see if they can scrounge returners they have eyes for off someone else's roster once cutdowns start. Also watch to see what happens with Charone Peake in the next few weeks, if he can show steady improvement combined with Thompkins lack of standout plays in the preseason game could open him up to getting the squeeze.
TIGHT END (3): Kellen Davis, Brandon Bostick, Zach Sudfeld
Rundown: I know this is a hawt taek, but Bostick was in for the first snap of the game Friday. Jace Amaro had one nice grab early along the sideline but other than that was unable to collect a pass thrown behind him and bobbled another pass out of bounds. Amaro is what he is … limited.
OFFENSIVE LINE (10): Ryan Clady, James Carpenter, Nick Mangold, Brian Winters, Breno Giacomini, Brent Qvale, Ben Ijalana, Brandon Shell, Wesley Johnson, Dakota Dozier
Rundown: After what I saw last night from Johnson at center I think he could make a fine backup to Mangold, but I might not mind him giving Winters some competition either for the guard spot opposite Carpenter. While Qvale and Ijalana are seeing extended duties at tackle, specifically on the right side they might still be hard pressed to beat out Giacomini should he ever get healthy. Giacomini is a soft salary cap target who could save the team almost $4 million if he isn't on the opening day roster. My read is that the Jets are giving as long a look as possible to the two potential replacements because they know that Breno is going to be replacement level at best. With or without Breno, the Jets are probably going to war with their lowest ceiling but highest floor offense line in five seasons. Dozier might be the expendable player in this group if the Jets are forced to make cuts down to nine.
DEFENSIVE LINE (6): Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson (suspension), Leonard Williams, Steve McLendon, Jarvis Jenkins, Deon Simon, Lawrence Thomas
The Jets have one of the best trios in Wilkerson, Richardson and Williams and while McLendon won't replicate Damon "Snacks" Harrison's role perfectly, it might not matter the way Williams is now coming on as a second=year player. Simon had a decent second preseason game and might have saved himself a roster spot at least for now. The Jets will have to move some things around in Week 1 while Richardson serves his one-game suspension after his 2015 issues. This opens the door for someone else on this roster and while it doesn't have to be a lineman, I think the Jets would be willing to roster Thomas after a solid training camp and some solid work in games. Thomas was injured in the second preseason game and did jump offsides, but he was seeing time with the first unit if that is any indication about how Todd Bowles feels about the rookie.
LINEBACKER (7): Jordan Jenkins, David Harris, Erin Henderson, Lorenzo Mauldin, Darron Lee, Trevor Reilly, Josh Martin
There's a lot of changes here but the starting group looks good. The edge-setters and outside rushers will be drinking from the proverbial firehose but I think the Jets might be willing to tighten up this group with the idea of scanning who comes free from other teams during cutdowns. Of the youngsters, Martin might have stepped into the spotlight after the second preseason game.
SECONDARY (10): Darrelle Revis, Buster Skrine, Calvin Pryor, Marcus Gilchrist, Marcus Williams, Dee Milliner, Juston Burris, Darryl Morris, Rontez Miles, Dion Bailey.
We know who the top contributors here will be but the backups are an interesting battle. Morris helped himself with his play in the second game. Burris got a lot of attention after getting burned for two touchdowns, but I saw some sparks amongst his struggles which could indicate he has potential. You can't make the club from the tub and Dexter McDougle looks like injury casualty when it comes time for cutdowns. McDougle has struggled to stay healthy dating back to his days at Maryland and nothing has changed. The second day of the 2014 John Idzik draft class could have been a real difference maker but is shaping up to be a real stinker.
SPECIALISTS (3): PK Nick Folk, P Lachlan Edwards, LS Tanner Purdum.
No surprises here. As noted above in the WR section I think that the Jets will be paying attention to punt and kick returners who hit the waivers.
PRACTICE SQUAD CANDIDATES: Julian Howsare, Wes Saxton, Dexter McDougle, Deion Barnes, Jalin Marshall, Jarvis Harrison