Since the end of the season, the Jets have signed a number of players to reserve/futures deals, which basically puts them under contract, at the league minimum, for the 2016 season. Over the next few months, we'll be looking at each of these players, starting with Freddie Bishop III, whom the team signed last week. I've been looking at game footage to try and assess what Bishop brings to the table.
Bishop, who will turn 26 later this month, is listed at 6'4" and 255 pounds and has spent the last two seasons playing in Canada after going undrafted in 2013. He spent time with the Detroit Lions in 2013, before moving on to the CFL where he won a Grey Cup with the Calgary Stampeders in 2014 and then racked up 11 sacks last season.
Let's recap Bishop's career so far and assess some of his strengths and weaknesses.
Who is Freddie Bishop III?
Bishop went to college at Western Michigan, where he totalled 15 sacks and 31.5 tackles for loss in four seasons. After going undrafted in 2013, he was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Lions but was released before training camp.
Bishop would move on to Canada where he started off on the Calgary Stampeders' practice roster before moving into a rotational role in 2014. He had 16 tackles and three sacks during the regular season but then ended up playing a key role due to injuries in the team's Grey Cup success over the BC Lions, recording five tackles and a sack in the championship game.
He moved into a full-time starter role in 2015, recording 44 tackles and 11 sacks. The Stampeders released him from his contract after the season to enable him to pursue an NFL career and he signed with the Jets after having worked out for seven teams.
While Bishop didn't make it to preseason with the Lions, so there is no NFL footage to examine, I do follow the CFL closely so I am familiar with his game. There are also some CFL highlights and game footage online. You may already have seen the YouTube highlight video that Bassett shared.
Here are my observations from watching footage from Bishop's career so far, divided into categories:
As you'll have seen if you watched his highlight reel, Bishop would primarily generate most of his highlights while lined up wide of the tackle and from a standing position. Bearing in mind that one of the differences between CFL and NFL rules is that there are just three downs instead of four, this essentially means that many CFL teams operate out of a sub-package type of alignment most of the time. Calgary would usually only have one or two down linemen between the tackles with both edge rushers standing up.
However, Bishop does have experience of playing with his hand in the dirt in college and actually got some work as a defensive tackle in 2014 as well before moving back to end.
Bishop has pretty good size to play the outside linebacker position at the NFL level. He reportedly lost 20 pounds in between the 2014 and 2015 season and it's unclear whether or not his listed weight reflects that or not. I think he may have bulked up from his pro day weight (253) and then re-lost that weight because he was playing some defensive tackle in 2014.
Looking at his pro day numbers, Bishop's 40 time and agility drills were below average. However, he had an impressive 37.5 inch vertical and an above average broad jump. This explosiveness is the first thing that jumps out at you when watching his film. He also had 30 reps on the bench press, which is a good number, but this strength is less evident on film.
Bishop is capable of making plays in the running game, but these usually come from him shooting a gap or disengaging from a blocker to pursue in space. He's less impressive when required to hold his ground to set the edge or bottle up a run. He hasn't been a productive tackler in the CFL, never recording more than five in a game.
Of course, if the Jets see him as a situational pass rusher in the short term, then maybe this is a moot point.
Bishop is extremely impressive in pursuit and can certainly hit hard. I didn't see much evidence of him missing tackles, but that's partly due to the fact that most of the footage available online is highlights only.
He forced three fumbles in college and one in Canada.
As noted, Bishop is relentless in pursuit and seems to be a hard-working player. He likely wouldn't be an every-down player at the NFL level for at least a year or two anyway.
Bishop's 11 sacks last season are encouraging, although he wasn't a particularly productive pass rusher in college. The highest sack total he has in college was five and a half in 2011.
From watching the footage, it's clear that he didn't generate most of his production by beating his man. Many of his sacks and pressures saw him come off the edge unblocked or when he disengaged from his blocker when the quarterback looked to step up or take off.
Having said that, his closing speed is impressive and he reacts well, so he was able to maximize his opportunities to make these kinds of plays.
Although he was standing up most of the time, Bishop was primarily used to rush the passer so didn't get much opportunity to showcase any coverage skills. He had two pass break-ups in college and batted down one pass at the line last season for Calgary.
As noted, Bishop is quick to explode to the ball when the opportunity presents itself. However, there was one memorable play where he sacked the quarterback and was too busy celebrating to notice that the quarterback had fumbled and the ball was bouncing around for what should have been an easy turnover.
I could not find any footage of Bishop on special teams, but he had two special teams tackles last season.
Despite not having reviewed him in that role, this could be where he has the most potential. That ability to negotiate traffic, pursue across the field to close in on and bring down players could be an asset in kick coverage.
Bishop played in a 4-3 in college, but his sub-package work will benefit him with the Jets because they use more sub-packages than base packages and that's likely where he'd look to compete for the time being.
Based on his highlights, Bishop is a fun-loving player and seems to have worked hard to develop into a full-time contributor producing at a high level for Calgary, as evidenced by his reported weight loss after the 2014 season. He did have one roughing the passer penalty in a game I reviewed.
I can't find any details of injuries to Bishop, who played 48 games in four years in college and did not miss any time last season.
Since the unprecedented success of Cameron Wake, teams (and their fans) have been hoping to find the "next Cameron Wake." While Bishop had a good year as a pass rusher last year, it would be somewhat over-ambitious to expect him to make a similar kind of impact. Wake was a two-time CFL player of the year, while Bishop's 11 sacks still left him eight behind the league leader. To put that production into further context, former Jets' reserve Jamaal Westerman had 17 sacks last year in the CFL.
A more realistic expectation for Bishop would be for him to have a similar impact to Garrett McIntyre, who was a core special teamer, rotational back-up and occasional spot starter over three years with the Jets. That might even be an optimistic outlook.
As I said, his skill-set could lend itself well to a special team's role. You may recall Mario Addison making a terrific special teams play on the punt coverage unit during the Super Bowl. That's the kind of play Bishop seems capable of making in pursuit. Addison is actually a decent comparable for him because they're about the same size and have similar measurable features, although Addison is faster and had better agility numbers.
As I've noted from his footage, Bishop doesn't seem to be the kind of pass rusher that will beat his man over and over again to generate pressure, even against CFL-caliber linemen. Again, we can put that into some kind of context by stating that Bruce Campbell, who was basically right at the bottom of the Jets' depth chart a couple of years ago, started all year at left tackle for Toronto - although he's not necessarily one of the better linemen in the league. Having said that, Bishop does a good job of maintaining pocket integrity, so he could potentially be able to rack up good numbers in much the same way as Calvin Pace did a few years ago, exploiting the Jets' ability to create interior pressure.
Bishop is certainly a player on the rise, so hopefully he can continue to develop as a Jet and make some contributions. As with most of these futures signings, though, he's another body to add to the mix, not someone that will prevent them from looking to upgrade at this position through the draft or in free agency.