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 (Noah K. Murray)
(Noah K. Murray)

This year, I've again been breaking down each of the Jets' rookies in detail and we're now looking at the undrafted free agents. On Tuesday, I looked at defensive lineman Lawrence Thomas from Michigan State ] but now I move on to look at Ohio State wide receiver and punt returner Jalin Marshall. I've been conducting research and watching game footage to try and assess what he brings to the table.

The 20-year-old Marshall is listed as 5'10" and 200 pounds and entered the draft early after his redshirt sophomore year at Ohio State. He caught 76 passes for 976 yards and 11 touchdowns in his two seasons with the Buckeyes and was also in the top-five for punt return average both years. Marshall was considered to be a projected mid-rounder in the draft, with some experts suggesting he could be a day-two pick. However, he ran a slower than expected 40-yard dash at the combine and ended up going undrafted.

Note: Some stats from this article are exclusively provided by Pro Football Focus.

Who is Jalin Marshall?

As was the case with Christian Hackenberg and Lawrence Thomas before him, Marshall is another rookie pickup who was a highly sought-after high school recruit, having impressed as an option quarterback at Middletown, Ohio. However, after red-shirting his freshman year, Marshall played just two years and then opted to enter the draft -- arguably before he realized his full potential. If the Jets coaches have the patience to allow him to continue to develop now that he's a professional, this could be another good find in terms of value.

With several minor injuries and a deep group of skill position players ahead of him, Marshall redshirted his freshman year in 2013, but moved into a significant role as a red-shirt freshman in 2014.

Over the next two years, Marshall's production as a receiver was consistent but unspectacular, with 38 catches for 499 yards and six scores in 2014 and 36 catches for 477 yards and five scores in 2015. However, in 2014 he also carried the ball 25 times for 145 yards and a touchdown. He had just two carries in 2015 but did have his first 100-yard receiving game.

Marshall also made a name for himself as a punt returner, as he finished in the top five for average yards per return in each season. However, he had a costly muff in an upset loss to Minnesota in 2014 and although he bounced back to score four touchdowns in the biggest game of his career the following week, he never completely earned back the trust of the fanbase.

Let's move onto some more in-depth analysis of what Marshall brings to the table, based on my research and film study. In the gifs featured below, Marshall is #7.


Marshall's slide in the draft has mostly been attributed to the fact that he ran a disappointing 40-yard dash during the offseason. We'll focus on why that might be an over-simplification later on, but for someone who looks so fast on film, 4.60 at the combine was disappointing. And when he tried to improve on that number at his pro day, he only ran a 4.69. However, he got off to a much worse start in his pro day run (0.09 slower over the first 10 yards but 0.04 faster over the last 20). That suggests he should be capable of improving his overall time by at least 0.04, which would give him a 4.56 time. Keep that number in mind.

Looking at the rest of his numbers, the suggestion that Marshall displayed disappointing athleticism at the combine is inaccurate since other than that 40-yard dash, his numbers were good across the board. Does a lack of long distance breakaway speed preclude a small, shifty receiver and kick returner from being a productive player at the NFL level? It would seem not -- especially if they show good agility and explosiveness.

The prototypical player to compare Marshall with here is the very guy he'll be trying to replace with the Jets. Jeremy Kerley was a fifth round pick in 2011, but he too posted a slower than anticipated 40-yard dash at the combine (4.67). Kerley was able to improve upon this at his pro day, but only to 4.56, which you'll recall is the exact number I identified as what Marshall should have been able to achieve above.

As for the rest of Kerley's numbers -- with again some of these being improved upon at his pro day -- they ended up very similar (including an identical bench press and vertical jump). Marshall's agility numbers fell short of Kerley's excellent numbers, but were still very good. And he had a better broad jump by three inches. Marshall is also slightly bigger (by one inch and 11 pounds).

Marshall clearly has an extremely similar athletic profile to a player who saw success in a similar role, suggesting his measurables can't be the only reason he slipped in the draft. We'll therefore look into everything else, but we can use the Kerley projection to set our expectations for how Marshall will thrive as a deep threat, a short option or in terms of breakaway speed.


In his redshirt freshman year, Marshall primarily played the H-back position, which confusingly is nothing like the role denoted by the position of the same name with the Jets. Instead, he would line up in the slot but often motion across the formation for jet sweeps or into the flat. He moved outside for 2015.

As a former high school quarterback, Marshall was sometimes given snaps out of the wildcat in 2014, but the need for him to do that vanished in 2015 with Braxton Miller moving to receiver. He did have a game or two where he was the number two quarterback due to injuries, though, so he was almost called upon for emergency duties.

In three games charted from 2015, Marshall played on the outside most of the time but still had 40 of 163 snaps in the slot. He did not line up in the backfield. When lined up in the slot, Marshall had a lower yards per catch average and was less productive in terms of pass catching in 2015.

Deep threat

Marshall did make some plays downfield, but I didn't see many examples of him blowing by a defender to catch a long pass. Instead, many of the deep balls he caught saw him run downfield but then go up to get it in over a defender. In fact, he went up over two defenders for a touchdown in the end zone against Michigan.

Marshall scored a 48-yard touchdown on a long ball against Maryland in 2015 and it was a big one, breaking a 21-21 tie with seven minutes left in the third quarter. The defense was in zone coverage on that play, though, and he was wide open on a deep post route down the middle.


Marshall is somewhat raw as a route-runner, tending to get sloppy at the end of a route by rounding it off or drifting. However, he does show some promise. He can make crisp cuts and shows good technique when he breaks down for a hitch route.

It seemed like there was a lot of late or inaccurate throws to Marshall, which might suggest he was getting separation but the quarterback was letting him down. That was particularly apparent on the quick hitch routes. However, it can also mean that the receiver's route is imprecise and that the timing of the throw was fine but the receiver broke too early or at the wrong depth or angle.

While some of it happens off-screen, you can see that he does a good job of getting open on the outside here, presumably with either a sharp break to the outside or by deceiving the defensive backs by leaning inside first.


Marshall didn't have major issues with drops in college, as he totalled just four in each of his two seasons. However, he did also have some issues catching punts and there were times where he juggled catches or made a catch with his body rather than his hands.

He does display some good pass catching ability, though. He can go up to get it in a crowd and is capable of hanging on in traffic or when absorbing a hit, as he does here:

Marshall has a flair for the spectacular sometimes and one of his four touchdowns against Indiana in 2014 was a one-handed catch. However, I wonder if he tries to go for the spectacular too often, as there were at least two plays where he failed to make a one-handed catch on a play where it looked like he could get two hands to the ball. Here was one:

Yards after the catch

Marshall's open field running is obviously an asset after the catch, as it is when he was used as a runner or in the return game. He's an exciting player to watch with good elusiveness and acceleration. He makes good use of the spin move in the flat, stops on a dime and fights for yardage.

In 2014, Marshall yards after the catch per reception average was higher than most of the top receivers in this year's class, but it dropped off in 2015. In any case, those numbers can be misleading because quite a lot of his catches saw him come in motion and run underneath the formation to catch a short toss, which is really more akin to a running play.

Where Marshall was carrying the ball regularly in 2014, that was mostly on wildcat snaps and end-arounds. His two carries in 2015 both went for 15 yards and one of those was an end-around in their bowl game.

Here's one play where Marshall gets in the open field and shows off his acceleration, but fails to protect the ball in space and loses a fumble:


Marshall is a willing enough blocker on the line or downfield, but from what I saw, he doesn't contribute much. His lack of size is perhaps a factor in this but he also seemed to miss a few assignments where he whiffed on a block in space.


Marshall's move to the outside in 2015 was partially to help him learn how to deal with press coverages, according to coaches. If he is able to master that, perhaps he could become more of a downfield threat against bump-and-run coverage.

One thing that has been praised is Marshall's toughness and fearlessness when going over the middle.

His only penalty over the past two years was in the win over Minnesota this year where he was flagged for being an ineligible receiver downfield. Presumably that was some kind of trick play that went awry.


Although he's young and inexperienced, you can find some good examples of football IQ from Marshall, whose understanding of the game was perhaps helped by the fact he was a quarterback in high school. In the play above where he fumbled, he obviously did a good job to find some open space as the play was extended, for example.

One place where he could display better decision-making is in the return game. There seemed to be too many examples of him fielding punts unnecessarily inside the 10, taking a fair catch when it was unnecessary and failing to take a fair catch when under pressure. Obviously he was determined to make plays, but at times needed to be more selective.

Here's an interesting play where Marshall motions across and takes the pitch, fakes a pass and then cuts back to score. Having already caught a forward pass, Marshall could not throw the ball otherwise he'd have been flagged for an illegal second forward pass. So, was this a mental error or was he actually being extremely smart and always intended to use the threat of a pass as a fake to open up the middle? You decide:

Scheme Fit

It's perhaps not a great sign that Marshall's former teammate, Devin Smith, struggled to adjust to the Jets' system, although he did miss most of camp through injuries.

As noted above, there seemed to be a disconnect between Marshall and his quarterback at times in respect of the timing or placement of throw. That was the case with Smith last year too, so it could be a pattern to keep an eye out for.

Also, with the comparison to Kerley mentioned above, it's worth remembering that Kerley was basically just a return man last season and they didn't really have a role for him on offense.

Special Teams

Special teams is where Marshall has the best chance to make his mark. The punt return role is wide open and Marshall's open field running skills make him a dynamic return option:

You have to take the rough with the smooth, though, as he did have some fumbles and mental errors with the Buckeyes.

Could Marshall also return kickoffs effectively? Kerley didn't have much success with those, perhaps due to his lack of top-end speed, so maybe that would be an issue with Marshall too. But he returned each of the three kickoffs he fielded in college for more than 25 yards, including a nice 36-yard runback in the bowl game. Marshall didn't contribute in coverage at OSU, but could be an option there with the Jets. He had six special teams tackles in high school.


Marshall was suspended by the team for the 2015 season opener for marijuana use. Indications are that maybe this was a one-off mistake, but it will have raised concerns over his maturity.

For the record, coaches have said that he practices well. In particular, he showed good mental toughness and work ethic following that costly fumble in the Minnesota game, spending extra time catching punts in the snow and bouncing back with a four-touchdown performance that included the only punt return touchdown of his college career.


Having red-shirted the 2013 season due to a series of minor injuries, Marshall didn't miss any time due to injury in 2014 or 2015. However, he did suffer a torn meniscus and cartilage damage in the spring of 2014 and had to undergo arthroscopic knee surgery.


When initially assessing the undrafted free agent class each year, the moves that tend to get the most attention are the ones where a high profile player was expected to be a pretty high draft pick. Marshall fits right into that category. Vontaze Burfict is a good recent example of someone who most people expected to be a high pick that went undrafted (in his case, due to off-field concerns) and then ended up being a productive contributor.

However, what you'll often find is that the undrafted free agents who make more of an immediate impact are the less-heralded pickups. In a way, this stands to reason. If a guy everyone was aware of was passed on by 32 teams, clearly they didn't feel he was worth drafting. In the case of a guy like Burfict, that can prove incorrect, but often the reason teams pass on a potential pick proves to be the reason why they don't make it at the pro level.

On the other hand, if a team picks up a less-heralded player, then many of the teams who drafted other players instead didn't even have him on their radar. So it's not like all 32 teams have looked at him in depth and gone in another direction due to his flaws.

The prevailing narrative on Marshall was that his combine performance led to teams questioning his athleticism and perhaps that was a factor, especially after he was unable to improve upon his 40-yard dash time at his pro day. However, his combine performance was actually pretty good other than the 40 time. So reviewing the film on Marshall leads me to believe his going undrafted has more to do with his lack of experience, questionable instincts and ball security, perhaps coupled with concerns over his maturity.

That doesn't mean teams would be writing him off, just that they didn't feel comfortable spending a pick on him. Having already drafted a wide receiver in the seventh round, the Jets were obviously keen to bring Marshall into the mix too, as evidenced by them giving him $12,500 in guaranteed money -- the third most out of all their undrafted signings.

Marshall is young (still only 20), with good measurables and comes from a top program -- all attributes that many of this year's rookie class share. Where he differs from most is in the off-field concerns. But given his age, it could be a good gamble to hope this was a one-off mistake he has since learned from. He's certainly an exciting player, capable of making things happen, but he'll need to show discipline, maturity and consistency because he won't last very long if he makes the same kind of costly mistakes that he sometimes made in college.

Up next: We'll take a look at the newest undrafted free agent addition, North Carolina running back Romar Morris. Could he be another in the mix for a special teams role? Let us know in the comments who you'd like us to look at after that.

New York Jets wide receiver Eric Decker and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick before the start of the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. (Thomas J. Russo/USA Today Sports Images)
New York Jets wide receiver Eric Decker and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick before the start of the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. (Thomas J. Russo/USA Today Sports Images)

New York Jets wide receiver Eric Decker is skipping the team's organized team activities to express his support for free-agent quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, whom the Jets have not yet signed after leading New York to 10 wins last season, according to the New York Post's Brian Costello.

Though OTAs are not mandatory, Decker is not attending after he caught 80 passes for 1,027 yards and 12 touchdowns last season.

"You'd like to have everybody here for everybody to have the opportunity to get better, but at the same time, it is voluntary," offensive coordinator Chan Gailey said on Wednesday.

Fellow wide receiver Brandon Marshall also skipped OTAs, but Costello reports it is not in a protest of Fitzpatrick remaining unsigned. Center Nick Mangold, who was with Fitzpatrick, Decker and Bryce Petty at a Rangers game last month, also skipped OTAs because his wife recently gave birth.

Decker said last week on NFL Network he thinks Fitzpatrick and the Jets will reunite in July.

"Right now, it's a business and they're so far off in dollar amount, but Ryan wants to be back, they want Ryan back," Decker said. "Something is going to happen. It might be before training camp, the day or two before, but I believe that he'll be back on the team come this fall."

Fitzpatrick, 33, said he wants to return to the Jets, but remains a free agent after throwing for 3,905 yards, 31 touchdowns and 15 interceptions last season, as the Jets went 10-6 and fell one game shy of reaching the playoffs. He and the Jets are reportedly about $7 million apart in contract discussions.

Tags: Eric Decker , Ryan Fitzpatrick

New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles addresses the media after OTAs on Wednesday, and discusses the quarterbacks in camp, the latest on Ryan Fitzpatrick, the early development of the rookies, the state of the defense, and more.

New York Jets quarterback Christian Hackenberg working through drills at OTA's.  (Noah K. Murray)
New York Jets quarterback Christian Hackenberg working through drills at OTA's. (Noah K. Murray)

New York Jets offensive coordinator Chan Gailey spoke with the media following Wednesday's OTA. Here is what we learned from Gailey, who is in his second season running the Jets offense:

  • "We've improved our roster from top to bottom on offense. We took baby steps last year, it's time to take longer steps now," Gailey said.
  • Regarding rookie QB Christian Hackenberg: "He's a work in progress, as we all are."
  • "Every rookie quarterback would benefit from sitting and learning," Gailey said on the notion of Hackenberg playing in his rookie season. "His upside is very good, in our opinion."
  • Geno Smith is "mentally" ahead of where he was last season.
  • When asked if he is comfortable with Geno as the Jets starting QB, Gailey responded: "We're comfortable with whoever wins the job."
  • He won't try to figure out how RB Matt Forte fits into his system, but rather how he can adjust the offensive scheme to use all of his abilities.
  • "You'd like to have everybody here for everybody to have the opportunity to get better, but at the same time it is voluntary," Gailey said regarding the absence of WR's Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall on Tuesday and Wednesday
  • When asked about free agent QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, Gailey responded "I coach who walks through the door."

Brian Bassett, Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | TJB Posts

Gailey's answer on incorporating Matt Forte into the offense perfectly encapsulates the way he approaches football. Gailey would rather use the system to enhance his players rather than the players to enhance his system. Personally, I see Forte as an upgraded version of Bilal Powell. Forte can run between the tackles but his best work has been done in the passing game much like Powell demonstrated in 2015.  

Gailey got cute in his answers on Geno Smith and his role in this offense, but he's right. He can't speak to players who aren't on the team nor should he. The Fitzpatrick situation will resolve itself sooner or later, but let's all hope it's sooner.

Tags: Tim Reilly

New York Jets defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)
New York Jets defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)

New York Jets Defensive End Sheldon Richardson showed up today for day two of Jets OTAs according to New York Post beat writer Brian Costello.

The Missouri product caused a small controversy last offseason with his spotty attendance during the non-mandatory Organized Team Activities, criticism to which he responded on Twitter.

Richardson's fifth year $8 million contract option was picked up by the Jets this April after recording 35 tackles, 5 sacks and 2 forced fumbles in 11 games played last season. 

Brian Bassett, Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | TJB Posts

Sheldon Richardson has to realize that if he can keep his nose clean he could be in a very favorable position in the next year or two. After getting off on the wrong foot with his new coach and GM through some imprudent off-field incidents, Richardson's position can be made less tenuous with some extra effort demonstrated to his coach on and off the field.

Should the Jets and Muhammad Wilkerson might not be able to come to terms on a long-term contract extension, Richardson is the disruptive player who could benefit long-term from that impasse. The Jets might be willing to give Richardson a generous contract while Leonard Williams plays out his rookie deal as the eventual role-replacement to Wilkerson's. In other words, a dutiful Richardson and an absent Wilkerson means a New York payday for the former Mizzou star.

Jun 9, 2015; Florham Park, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) and New York Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall (15) during New York Jets minicamp at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports (Ed Mulholland)
Jun 9, 2015; Florham Park, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) and New York Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall (15) during New York Jets minicamp at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports (Ed Mulholland)

The Jets will hold their second of 10 organized team activities (OTA) on Wednesday, and the first open to reporters.

Their first practice was Tuesday, but it was closed to media.

Geno Smith, Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg are expected in camp, along with wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. Head coach Todd Bowles is scheduled to speak with reporters around 2 pm ET.

The Jets will hold practice Tuesday through Thursday this week and next week, with Wednesday again open to media.

North Carolina Tar Heels tailback Romar Morris (21) runs the ball during the first half against the Illinois Fighting Illini at Kenan Memorial Stadium. (Rob Kinnan)
North Carolina Tar Heels tailback Romar Morris (21) runs the ball during the first half against the Illinois Fighting Illini at Kenan Memorial Stadium. (Rob Kinnan)

The Jets have signed undrafted free agent RB Romar Morris and have waived TE Jerome Cunningham, the team announced on Tuesday

Morris played in 50 games with 13 starts over his four years at North Carolina. He racked up 1,024 yards on 214 carries and 12 touchdowns in his career with the Tar Heels, while adding 54 receptions for 499 yards and two touchdowns.

As a redshirt senior, Morris saw his offensive touches reduced. The running back focused on special teams, an area in which he saw an opportunity for himself in the NFL.

Morris showed great speed at his UNC pro day, with 40 times reported at 4.30, 4.35, and 4.36.

After being invited for a tryout at the Jets' recent rookie camp, Morris impressed the team enough to earn a spot on the 90-man roster.

Cunningham was an undrafted free agent who signed with the Giants in 2014, and caught eight passes for them last season. He was signed as an exlusive-rights FA this March before being waived earlier this month and becoming a Jet on waivers.

Michigan State Spartans defensive lineman Lawrence Thomas (Erich Schlegel/USA Today Sports Images)
Michigan State Spartans defensive lineman Lawrence Thomas (Erich Schlegel/USA Today Sports Images)

This year, I've again been breaking down each of the Jets' rookies in detail and we're now looking at the undrafted free agents. On Sunday, I looked at Appalachian State safety Doug Middleton, but now I move on to look at defensive lineman Lawrence Thomas from Michigan State. I've been conducting research and watching game footage to try and assess what he brings to the table.

The 23-year old Thomas is listed as 6-foot-3 and 286 pounds, and was regarded by some experts as a potential late-round pick in April's draft. He played a variety of positions with the Spartans, but was a defensive lineman over the past few years, starting 27 games in a row. Thomas was an honourable mention all-Big Ten selection in his senior year as the Spartans won the conference championship and reached the BCS playoffs.

Note: Pro Football Focus exclusively provides some stats from this article.

Who is Lawrence Thomas?

Thomas was a highly sought-after high school recruit and began his career as an inside linebacker. After red-shirting his freshman year, Thomas put on 35 pounds with the intention of moving to defensive lineman, but then converted to fullback early on in the 2012 season. He started three games and made some good contributions blocking for Le'Veon Bell, while also catching seven passes for 78 yards before moving back to defensive line at the end of the year.

In 2013, Thomas missed the first half of the year with a back injury and then returned to play as on the defensive line, but barely played, recording just one solo tackle. Heading into 2014, his career had been a series of misfires and disruptions, but he finally became a full-time contributor and started every game over his last two seasons.

He started 13 games in 2014, 12 at nose tackle, and recorded 30 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and three sacks. In 2015, he moved to defensive end and set career highs with 37 tackles and five tackles for loss, with another three sacks. Despite earning invitations to the Senior Bowl and scouting combine after the season, Thomas was unable to elevate his stock far enough to be selected in April's draft.

Let's move onto some more in-depth analysis of what Thomas brings to the table, based on my research and film study. In the GIFs featured below, Thomas is No. 8.


Thomas put up some good workout numbers at the combine and his pro day, but exactly how good those numbers are depend on whether you view him as a defensive end or a defensive tackle. At 286 pounds, he's a bit of a tweener, perhaps built for a strong side defensive end role, but lacking the size to play on the interior or the speed to play a more versatile edge role.

Thomas weighed between 305-310 pounds as a junior when he was playing defensive end and perhaps has the frame that he could bulk back up to about 315 to play full time on the interior. However, he was 20 pounds lighter than that during the offseason and weighed just 232 pounds when first recruited to Michigan State.

He posted a 35-inch vertical jump at the combine, which ranked fourth among all defensive linemen. However, a review of Thomas' other workout numbers paints a picture of someone who is either very athletic for a defensive tackle or has below average athleticism for a defensive end. That suggests his athletic ability is about expected for a tweener.

Thomas has pretty good length and is said to have an impressive physique, although some experts have suggested he might be too muscle-bound for his own good because some of his movements are stiff at times.


With a background that includes stints at inside linebacker, fullback and nose tackle, it's difficult to know what Thomas' best position is. He even played running back and wide receiver in high school. In fact, if he fails to make the NFL level at defensive end, Thomas is the kind of player who might get another shot at a different position. That said, he seems to be concentrating on getting a role as a defensive end at the moment because that's where he played at the senior bowl.

With Michigan State, Thomas mostly played nose tackle in 2014, but that was primarily shading the center, as Michigan did not operate a two-gapping system.

In 2015, he officially moved to defensive end before the season, but actually still played quite a lot on the inside. In the season opener, he mostly played end on running downs and inside on passing downs, which I could see being similar to his role in the NFL. However, it varied over the course of the season. Against Central Michigan in Week 4, he played 48 of 51 snaps on the interior, including eight at nose tackle, but against Penn State in the final regular season game, he played just six of 56 snaps inside.


Thomas' motor has been praised as one of his strengths. Sometimes this can just be code for someone who tries hard but doesn't have much statistical production, but Thomas can handle a large workload and gives a good effort in pursuit. Last season he consistently played 60-80 percent of the snaps. In 2014, he had three games where he played fewer than 55 percent of snaps, but also one where he played over 90 percent.

Run Defense

Thomas does a lot of the dirty work in the trenches, as he's perhaps more likely to be taking on blocks or setting the edge than he is to be making a stop himself. There aren't many highlight reel-type plays from Thomas, who made a lot of his production by simply bottling up runs while at defensive end.

It's perhaps more interesting to see some of his work when playing on the interior. At times, he struggled to hold up against double teams and to get off blocks when playing nose tackle, but his athleticism stands out on some of the plays he made while playing inside.

On this play, he moves well laterally, while avoiding being driven too far off the line, and then is able to throw off the block to make the play.

This play sees Thomas trying to avoid the block at the point of attack and basically taking himself out of the play in the process. However, he has the agility to recover and get back into the play to stuff the run in the hole.


As noted, Thomas doesn't have much statistical production in terms of tackle numbers, but he is usually pretty solid at finishing when he gets the opportunity. Thomas missed six tackles in 2015, five of which were against the run. In 2014, he had just two missed tackles.

Here was a costly one, as he failed to react in time to the jet sweep. Just one false step to the inside cost him the angle to maintain the outside contain, and he failed to bring down the runner with a despairing dive.

Pass Rush

Having moved to the outside, Thomas basically generated three times as much pressure in his senior year as he had in a similar number of reps as a junior. However, this still translated to poor production for a defensive end over the course of the season.

Draft experts suggest he can't bend the edge, doesn't use his hands enough and is largely ineffective with his swim and spin moves. Watching the film, it's evident there are a lot of plays in which he fails not just to generate pressure, but even to get close. On some of these plays, I expect his assignment required him simply to maintain contain so that the likes of Shilque Calhoun and Malik McDowell could make the play, but there were still plays where it was obvious the lineman countered his initial move and he had no response.

Nevertheless, there were some impressive moments from Thomas, who -- let's not forget -- was relatively new to the position. Eagle-eyed TJB readers will recognize this play from the Christian Hackenberg BGA. Thomas dominates the right tackle with a bull rush and finishes the play off with a sack.

On this play, he tries a different approach, looking to get pressure off the edge with speed. He manages to turn to corner but doesn't get home as Hackenberg throws a well-timed quick pass. As you can see, he is coming at Hackenberg with lean, but perhaps seems a little out of control.

This play also sees him generate pressure outside, and this time he does win with hand fighting. Once again, though, he isn't able to turn the corner sharply enough to get to Hackenberg and loses balance as he tries to corral him before he steps up. Even so, his pressure is enough to force an overthrow downfield.

While Thomas showed an ability to generate pressure in this game, we should also take into account that Penn State's offensive line was notoriously poor, so this calls into question how likely he would be to produce against NFL talent. Even though he played both sides in 2015, his production when playing on the right was almost non-existent, so he didn't do much against left tackles, which would typically represent the best tackle prospects on any college team.

Batting Passes

Interestingly, Thomas tied for the lead among this year's defensive end class by batting down seven passes at the line of scrimmage. One of these was tipped into the air and intercepted in the season opener, setting up the Spartans' first touchdown of the season. He only batted down one pass in 2014.

He only dropped into coverage a few times each year, so it would be a major adjustment to convert him into a stand-up linebacker role, although the Jets are in the process of doing something similar with Mike Catapano. Thomas caught seven passes for 78 yards at fullback, so if the opportunity was to present itself, you'd back him to intercept a pass and maybe to get a good return.

Special Teams

Thomas played some special teams over the last couple of years, recording three special teams tackles and two missed tackles. He also had three special teams tackles in 2012. With his ability to bat down passes, perhaps he would also be an asset on the field goal block unit.

Thomas actually got some work as a punter in high school, but much as I'd like to see a defensive lineman punt, I don't expect he'd ever get emergency work there in the pros.


One impressive thing from Thomas' film was that he keeps his head up while engaged with a blocker, ready to pursue the quarterback if he takes off or to locate and get into the path of the ball. This might be one of the reasons he was able to bat down so many passes. He seems to anticipate blocks well and probably benefits from knowing everyone's role, having played so many different positions.

One criticism of him is that his get-off is often slower than the other linemen because he struggles to anticipate the snap. His athletic splits would suggest he has adequate explosiveness to be able to do that well, and the three GIFs above don't look too bad in that respect, but there are examples of him coming out of his stance a beat later than his linemates. Perhaps he is nervous about jumping offside, but something like that could lead teams to wonder whether he watches enough film.


Thomas does have a bit of an injury history. He red-shirted his freshman year after suffering a torn labrum and then missed the first half of the 2013 season with a lower back injury. He also had another shoulder problem at the combine, which is why he didn't do the bench press and some of the other drills until his pro day.


Thomas seems to have a no-nonsense approach on the field and, recognizing some of the struggles he had for his career to get off the ground, has been mentoring McDowell, his teammate and a good NFL prospect. Teammates and coaches have praised his desire, perseverance and unselfishness, and the coaches obviously appreciated his can-do attitude when changing roles so many times.

The only penalty Thomas committed over the past two seasons was at the Senior Bowl.

Scheme Fit

As noted above, it seems most likely that Thomas would have a defensive line role that would require him to play end against the run and tackle against the pass. In that respect, it would be similar to the role Leger Douzable held over the past few years, with Jarvis Jenkins expected to take over from him this year. He has one former teammate -- linebacker Taiwan Jones -- on the roster to potential help him with the transition.


I have my doubts whether Thomas has a realistic chance of getting in the mix on the defensive line, and not just because of the depth the Jets already possess there.

Thomas was able to use his speed against certain players and his power against others at the college level, but almost everyone is athletic and powerful at the NFL level. I'd like his chances more if he was more of a technician, but he's still somewhat raw. He'll win with length more than technique, but, once again, he won't have a length advantage over most of the players he'll face at the NFL level. He is new to the defensive end position though and hasn't played that long on the defensive line, so maybe the Jets see something on film that lead them to believe he can develop those skills.

Having played so many different positions over the course of his career, it might just be a case in which the Jets were intrigued by Thomas' background, measurables and character, and thought he was worth bringing aboard just to see what they can get from him. That would be an interesting idea in theory, but he'd need to make an impression early because once training camp gets underway, the Jets will have limited time available to dedicate to a longer-term project.

As I noted in the Middleton BGA, Middleton had more guaranteed salary than any of the other undrafted pick-ups, but it's also worth noting that Thomas is tied with him for most overall guarantees ($5,000 salary and $10,000 signing bonus). Could this mean the Jets were higher on him than most of the others they brought in? If so, then maybe they do have defined plans for him after all.

Up next: We'll take a look at Ohio State wide receiver and kick returner Jalin Marshall. Is there a special teams role sitting there ready for him to grab? Let us know in the comments who you'd like us to look at after that.

GEICO SportsNite: Willie Colon 00:00:41
Former New York Jets guard Willie Colon hosts his annual charity golf outing for Lupus research.

 (Timothy T. Ludwig)
(Timothy T. Ludwig)

Free agent QB Ryan Fitzpatrick said he wants to return to the Jets but wouldn't elaborate on the contract negotiations.

"I would like to be back," Fitzpatrick said, according to the New York Post.

Fitzpatrick also said he wasn't considering retirement, noting that he's "playing football next year."

The Jets and Fitzpatrick have reportedly been far apart in negotiations, though both sides have remained open to a reunion throughout.

The Jets currently have three other quarterbacks on the roster -- Geno Smith, Bryce Petty, and the recently-drafted Christian Hackenberg.

Tags: Ryan Fitzpatrick

Westhoff talks punters, changes 00:04:18
Former Jets special teams coach Mike Westhoff discusses the battle between the punters and advice for the current coaching staff.

Doug Middleton (36) lines up to make a tackle in the NFLPA college all-star game. (Kelvin Kuo)
Doug Middleton (36) lines up to make a tackle in the NFLPA college all-star game. (Kelvin Kuo)

This year, I've again been breaking down each of the Jets' rookies in detail and we're now into the undrafted free agent signings. Saturday, I looked at Temple wide receiver Robby Anderson and now I move on to look at defensive back Doug Middleton from Appalachian State. I've been conducting research and watching game footage to try and assess what he brings to the table.

Middleton, 22, is listed as 6 foot, 210 pounds, and was regarded by many experts as a potential late-round pick in April's draft. He started every game over the past two seasons and was a key contributor to a good Appalachian State defense. Middleton is a good athlete, with 4.45 speed in the 40-yard dash.

Note: Some stats from this article are exclusively provided by Pro Football Focus.

Who is Doug Middleton?

Middleton joined Appalachian State as a rotational free safety and showed promise in his true freshman season of 2011 by earning two starts. He had 23 tackles in limited playing time and two huge interceptions - one which he returned for a 97-yard touchdown and another to seal a big win.

In 2012 Middleton moved to cornerback and won a starting role, but suffered a season-ending ankle injury on opening day. In 2013, as a redshirt sophomore, he moved back to safety and started the last five games, when he racked up 25 of his 46 tackles. He also forced two fumbles and intercepted a pass.

Over the next two seasons, he started every game, playing free safety in 2014 and strong safety in 2015. He had better numbers in 2014, with career highs in tackles (74), tackles for loss (five), passes defensed (10) and interceptions (four). He didn't quite match that production in 2015 with 53 tackles, three passes defensed and no interceptions, but he played well in a key role on a team that improved from 7-5 to 11-2 and ranked in the top 30 in the nation for several defensive categories.

Let's move onto some more in-depth analysis of what Middleton brings to the table, based on my research and film study. In the gifs featured below Middleton is No. 21.

To read more, click here.

The New York Jets line up against the Tennessee Titans for a field goal at MetLife Stadium. The Jets won, 30-8. (Vincent Carchietta)
The New York Jets line up against the Tennessee Titans for a field goal at MetLife Stadium. The Jets won, 30-8. (Vincent Carchietta)

The Jets have the second-toughest schedule in the NFL for the 2016 season, reports Michael Salfino of the Wall Street Journal

Salfino cites Sharp Football Analysis, which looks looks at every team's projected win total for the upcoming season rather than the past year's records. According to this system, the Jets' opponents are averaging 8.6 wins, which is only second to the 49ers' opponents at 8.7 wins. 

Five of the Jets' first six opponents are averaging at least 9.6 wins, per this metric.

The Jets will open up their season on Sept. 11 against the Bengals at MetLife Stadium. 


With free agency and the draft in the rear view, Corey Griffin and Brian Bassett take a big picture look at the entire offseason, covering the moves made and not made, and where the Jets stand between now and training camp.

emple Owls wide receiver Robby Anderson (19) makes a touchdown reception during the second half against the Houston Cougars in the Mid-American Conference football championship game at TDECU Stadium. The Cougars defeated the Owls 24-13. (Troy Taormina)
emple Owls wide receiver Robby Anderson (19) makes a touchdown reception during the second half against the Houston Cougars in the Mid-American Conference football championship game at TDECU Stadium. The Cougars defeated the Owls 24-13. (Troy Taormina)

This year, I've again been breaking down each of the Jets' rookies in detail and we're now into the undrafted free agent signings. On Thursday, I looked at USC defensive lineman Claude Pelon, but now I move on to look at Temple wide receiver Robby Anderson. I've been conducting research and watching game footage to try and assess what he brings to the table.

The 23-year old Anderson is listed at 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds and was regarded by many experts as a potential mid-to-late round pick in April's draft, especially after he ran a 4.36-second 40-yard dash at his pro day. Anderson missed the entire 2014 season after being ruled academically ineligible following a promising sophomore campaign that saw him catch nine touchdown passes. However, he returned in 2015 to set career highs in catches (70) and receiving yards (939).

Note: Some stats from this article are exclusively provided by Pro Football Focus

Who is Robby Anderson?

Anderson went to Temple in 2011 after a high school career that saw him play receiver and defensive back. After redshirting his freshman year and being used as a special teamer the following year, he actually left the program in the spring of 2013, at which time he was working as a defensive back. 

Anderson's absence was short-lived, however, as he returned to the team to play receiver in the summer of 2013. After a slow start, he finally had his breakthrough, making it into the starting lineup by Week 5, and then exploding for a school-record 239 yards on nine catches against SMU. Three weeks later, he showed that was no fluke by racking up another 184 yards against UCF.

In all, Anderson caught 44 passes for 791 yards and had nine touchdowns, all of which came in the last five games of the year. Unfortunately, he was ruled academically ineligible after that and was forced to sit out the entire 2014 season. He eventually got himself eligible again and was back on the team in time for the start of the 2015 season.

Anderson's senior season saw him have a career year, leading the team to a 7-0 start and ending up the season with 70 catches, 939 yards and seven more scores. His signature game came in the conference championship loss to Houston, where he caught 12 passes for 150 yards and a touchdown, although he did lose a fumble. Other than that, he only had one other 100-yard game, so his production was pretty consistent over the rest of the year.

Let's move onto some more in-depth analysis of what Anderson brings to the table, based on my research and film study. In the gifs featured below Anderson is No. 19.


Anderson's draft stock got a boost when he ran 4.36-second 40-yard dash at his pro day, but the first thing you'll notice about him on film is his wiry frame. He weighed in at just 187 pounds at his pro day, seven pounds heavier than he was at the East-West Shrine Game. Anderson will assuredly need to bulk up to cope with the physicality of NFL-level defensive players and to ensure he doesn't become a durability concern. Hopefully this won't affect his speed too much.

At his pro day, Anderson was only able to do eight bench press reps, furthering the point that he needs to add some strength.

Anderson's agility numbers were below average, but he has a 36.5-inch vertical and his broad jump (128 inches) was very good. He does use his tall frame to go up to get it over defenders and generally high-points the ball pretty well. Here he goes up to make a sideline catch:

His overall numbers were good enough to get the attention of RotoViz, though. They wrote about the possibility of him being a sleeper. Ultimately, though, most of their article talked its way into reasons why he might not live up to the projection generated from his athletic profile.  


Anderson played mostly on the outside at Temple but did get some work in the slot. When in the slot, his catch rate was pretty good, but he had a lower yards-per-catch average. He did score three touchdowns from the slot, however.

As previously noted, he has some limited experience of playing as a defensive back.

Deep threat 

With Anderson's speed, he is obviously a threat to make plays downfield, although I didn't really see him running past defenders to catch a long bomb as often as you might expect for someone with sub-4.4 speed.

When Anderson did get beyond a defender to catch a deep ball, he typically did so by using a double move or relying on a defender biting on play-action. But he did reportedly showcase some ability to get downfield separation at Shrine Game practices.

This was Anderson's longest catch of the season, a 53-yarder. However, it was more of a catch-and-run, as they hit him running down the seam. Anderson was also caught from behind on the play, which was noted in the RotoViz article linked above.


With his comparative lack of strength, it's not really a surprise that Anderson doesn't contribute much as a blocker. He seems to put in an effort, but his instincts in space, technique and ability to sustain a block mostly seem to be lacking.

When the team ran a wide receiver screen, Anderson was typically the guy who caught the pass and was rarely, if ever, called upon to block in those situations.


Anderson shows promise at times in respect of his ability to break sharply on a route and did seem to run the full route tree in college.

Something Anderson will need to demonstrate in the pros which I didn't see much from him in college is physical play when running routes. He seemed to have most of his success when running into open space on an out route or crosser, or when defenders were backed off with the threat of him running beyond them.

As noted, Anderson makes use of double moves when trying to get open downfield. Here he uses one on a shorter throw that goes for a touchdown: 


I couldn't find pro day measurements for Anderson's wingspan or hand size, but he reportedly was measured with a 30-inch arm length and an 8 3/8-inch hand size at the Shrine Game. That hand size is smaller than all but three of the 42 receivers that had their hands measured at the combine, although that did include Will Fuller, a first-round pick.

As you might therefore expect, Anderson's hands can be a little unreliable. He had 11 drops last season and two more in the Shrine Game itself. He also lost a fumble and had a low catch rate. Many of his drops were down to poor focus or concentration. Here was a tougher one where the quarterback didn't put any kind of touch on the throw and he wasn't able to go up to get it:

Despite the occasional drops, Anderson has a knack for making spectacular and difficult catches. He can go up - or down - to get it, hold on to the ball even when taking a hit and even made a couple of spectacular one-handed grabs, including one on a tipped ball in the Houston game. Here's another spectacular grab on a tipped ball over by the sideline:

Yards after the catch 

Anderson perhaps doesn't fare as well after the catch as you might expect for someone with his speed. He didn't break many tackles or put up big numbers for yardage after the catch. Part of the issue is that he's not that big and strong, so he'll usually go down on first contact in the open field.

On this play he makes a nifty side step but is knocked off balance so he can't get away from the second defender coming across:

He does showcase some good speed and acceleration in the open field though, often taking short passes and running away from defenders to create extra yardage, as on this play: 


While Anderson doesn't display great instincts in coverage, he has pretty good instincts as a receiver, especially when trying to keep himself alive as an option when a play is extended. For example, in the team's bowl game against Toledo, he scored a touchdown on a play where he was able to sneak to the back of the end zone uncovered after the quarterback had nobody open on the rollout.

He had two penalties last year - one for offensive pass interference and one on an illegal formation call.

Scheme Fit 

Somewhere else that Anderson displays good instincts, which could make him a fit in the Jets' system, is in how he finds gaps defenses when running routes. The Jets' system uses Erhardt-Perkins principles, which mean that the route is based on a destination rather than being precisely mapped out and timed. It would seem Anderson would be comfortable with such a concept.

Here's an example of that, with Anderson running through zone coverage and adjusting his route so that he can catch a ball in a gap in the zone: 

Special Teams 

Anderson did get some return work in college, but didn't have much success. He fielded 20 kickoffs and 13 punts, averaging just 18.2 yards per kick return and 5.4 per punt return. He had one 19-yard punt return in 2015 but that accounted for almost half his yards.

In 2015, he had one muffed punt return and there was also a kickoff return where he collided with another return man to cause a fumble.

Other than return work, Anderson didn't contribute much in coverage and might need to improve his physicality to be able to use his speed effectively as a gunner.


As was the case with Pelon, when a player has been academically ineligible, it can raise questions about their intelligence and/or work ethic. However, the coaches were once again impressed with how Anderson dealt with the adversity to get himself back in the program.

Anderson actually admitted he had been lazy and should easily have been able to stay eligible. He worked a lot harder in his year off and continued that motivation and hard work into his senior year, so it seems likely that was a wake-up call for him.

He apparently watches a lot of film and uses these to determine how he needs to adjust his routes to get open. Again, this would seem to fit in with how the Jets do things.


I could not find any details of injuries for Anderson while at Temple. However, as noted, durability could be a concern if he doesn't bulk up.


Anderson is an interesting prospect with draftable traits. He looks like he could be a good fit and seems to have good intangibles to go along with his athletic ability.

His lean frame and hands are obvious concerns, but he showed some promising playmaking ability and produced well at Temple. He brings some youthfulness and athleticism to a position group that needs to look ahead, even though there aren't likely to be many reps available in the short-term unless there are injuries.

Like most of the undrafted free agents I've reviewed so far - and indeed the futures contract signings - Anderson does bring some interesting things to the table. It will be interesting to see what kind of an impact he can make in training camp.

Up next: We'll take a look at Appalachian State defensive back Doug Middleton. What hope does he have of making a splash in the battle for roster spots at safety? Let us know in the comments who you'd like us to look at after that.

 (Brian Spurlock)
(Brian Spurlock)

Jets personnel director Brian Heimerdinger thinks highly of recently-drafted QB Christian Hackenberg.

"I think we have high hopes for Hack," Heimerdinger said Thursday, according to Rich Cimini of ESPN. "He had a tough time in college, but he's an unbelievable kid. He's real smart. I've really enjoyed him so far since he's been in the building. We'll see how he progresses over the next couple of years."

Heimerdinger also discussed whether the selection of Hackenberg is a reflection on fellow QB Bryce Petty.

"Personally, our opinion is you don't draft on what your roster is," he said. "We like to fill our needs in free agency and draft the best available. In regard to Bryce, that's not really a slight at Bryce anymore than drafting a linebacker is a slight at David Harris in that regard."

Bent, Follow on Twitter

You can probably file Heimerdinger's comments in the "well, what did you expect them to say?" file. And it does seem like he's mostly talking about this from a standpoint of why they drafted Hackenberg rather than anything he's shown in limited practice time so far.

Perhaps more noteworthy are his comments on Petty, who he assures us is still part of the team's plans, while suggesting that adding Hackenberg to the mix seems to be part of an ongoing philosophy of bringing in as many options as possible rather than a slight on the incumbent group. Whether Heimerdinger actually believes this or is just saying what's best for each candidate's confidence (or even trade value) is anyone's guess, though.


Tags: Bryce Petty

New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis (Danny Wild/USA Today Sports Images)
New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis (Danny Wild/USA Today Sports Images)

New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis, one of the NFL's highest-paid players among non-quarterbacks the past several years, has fired his longtime agents.

ESPN first reported Thursday that Revis had parted ways with Neil Schwartz and Jonathan Feinsod, the cornerback's agents since his rookie year in 2007.

Schwartz and Feinsod negotiated a few huge deals for Revis, who has made $101 million in his career, according to He is due to make $17 million in guaranteed money this season.

Both agents confirmed the split in emails to The Associated Press, but the reasons for Revis' move was not immediately certain. "Jonathan and I wish him the best of luck," Schwartz wrote in an email.

Revis returned to the Jets last year after two seasons away, and signed a five-year, $70 million deal that included $39 million in guarantees.

Copyright 2016 by The Associated Press

Tags: Darrelle Revis

USC defensive tackle Claude Pelon (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports Images)
USC defensive tackle Claude Pelon (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports Images)

This year, I've again been breaking down each of the Jets' rookies in detail and we're now into the undrafted free agent signings. On Tuesday, I looked at Temple offensive lineman Kyle Friend, and now I move on to look at Southern California defensive lineman Claude Pelon. I've been conducting research and watching game footage to try and assess what he brings to the table.

The 23-year-old Pelon is listed at 6-foot-4, 310 pounds, and contributed on the defensive line for the Trojans over the past two seasons, although he dealt with some injuries in his senior year. Pelon had joined the Trojans as a junior college transfer after the 2013 season. He recorded 45 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, four sacks, a forced fumble and two passes defensed over the course of the two seasons, starting four games. He is a former linemate of current Jets starter Leonard Williams.

Note: Pro Football Focus exclusively provides some stats from this article.

Who is Claude Pelon?

Pelon could be considered as something of a journeyman before he even made it to the NFL. He went to high school in Florida, then redshirted his first year at a junior college in Kansas. After that, he transferred to another junior college in Arizona and recorded 17 tackles and two sacks in his redshirt freshman season. The following year, he stayed in Arizona but transferred to yet another junior college, where he registered 52 tackles, including 9.5 for loss, as he was named as a Prep Star JUCO All-American.

Finally, he transferred to USC for his junior and senior years. He started three games as a junior and racked up 19 tackles, six tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. In his senior year, he missed some time through injuries, but still registered 26 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. He was not invited to the combine or any All-Star games, but had a good pro day. Prior to the season, an ESPN article had described him as "likely to be drafted," but there wasn't much draft buzz surrounding him after the season.

Let's move onto some more in-depth analysis of what Pelon brings to the table, based on my research and film study.


Pelon has good size, looks the part and put up some decent numbers at USC's pro day. I can't find a wingspan measurement for him, but he does seem to have good length, which he uses effectively.

Pelon's best numbers were for strength and explosiveness, as he posted 33 bench press reps, a 32.5-inch vertical leap and a 110-inch broad jump, all of which are excellent for his size. His 40-yard dash and shuttle runs were less impressive -- so you would perhaps expect him to lack agility and range in pursuit. Having said that, he said one team told him it clocked him at under five seconds for the 40 at his pro day.


Pelon supposedly moved from defensive tackle to defensive end in between his two seasons at USC, but I didn't actually find much difference between his assignments between the two years. At the end of 2014, Pelon seemed to be playing more as a defensive end, and in early 2015, he started a game at nose tackle because Antwuan Woods was out. I found that he typically lined up on the interior, although he wasn't shading the center very often and also got some snaps lined up opposite a tackle.

At the NFL level he'd probably be a 5-technique initially, but could also play on the interior in certain situations.


USC has plenty of defensive line talent, so the Trojans rotate their players regularly. That said, there were times when injuries piled up last year, so sometimes players had to take on a bigger role. Pelon played over 30 snaps only three times, but two of those games saw him handle 51 snaps against Arizona State and 49 in the bowl game against Wisconsin. In 2014, he played over 30 snaps eight times with a high of 66 against Nebraska in the bowl game.

I found that Pelon gave a relentless effort in the trenches and was capable of making plays late in games, exhibiting good stamina. He also played his best football at the end of the season each year with his two bowl game performances being arguably the best two games of his career.

His effort seemed less consistent on the backside when plays went away from him, but he wouldn't be expected to have much range in pursuit anyway, as already noted.

Run defense

Pelon holds up well at the point of attack and can extend his arms to stand up his blocker. This enables him to stay in front of the ball carrier whichever way the play goes or to bottle up runs right at him. He also pretty consistent in terms of his pad level and doesn't get driven off the line much, except when doubled.

Pelon's main issue in the running game seems to be that he'll explode out of his stance looking to penetrate, but won't see the play developing in front of him so might react late. I've seen plenty of aggressive linemen with this problem before, and you never know whether or not they'll learn to overcome it.

Here's an example of him doing that, as he bursts upfield leaving a big lane behind him on the draw play:

On another play, he made a bad read and went after the back on an option keeper.

Another area I'd like to see more from Pelon was in terms of his lateral movement and ability to get downhill, especially through traffic. He has a knack for getting into the backfield and also for making clutch stops on short yardage plays, though.


I didn't see any issues with missed tackles from Pelon, who had four in his two years at USC, but only one as a senior.

Interestingly, even though he played much less in 2015 than in 2014 due to the time missed through injury, he had more statistical production in the running game. He had played a higher percentage of pass rush snaps in 2014, but still had over 30 percent more run snaps than in 2015. One difference, though, was that he made fewer plays in the backfield.

Pass rush

Pelon has a good get-off and is a powerful bull rusher. He showcases that on this play, which sees him drive the left guard back and then get to the quarterback for a big hit before the back can get across to slow him down.

Perhaps not surprisingly, given the fact that he was a teammate of Williams, Pelon's go-to move is the swim move. At times, he almost over-relies on this, but he had repeated success with it in the bowl game against Nebraska in 2014, which saw him recording several pressures. It shouldn't go unmentioned that current Jets defensive line coach Pepper Johnson doesn't like this technique and discourages his players from using it.

In general, a lot of the damage he does is just a combination of his athletic ability and pure effort, but he shows signs of being disruptive in such a role. Here he uses an initial upfield leverage advantage to fight off a double team block and hit the quarterback.

Again, vision is an issue, as there were a few plays where he was still trying to beat his blocker without realizing that the quarterback had already taken off.

Batting passes

Pelon does get his hands up at times, although he can sometimes be too pre-occupied with trying to beat his man, as noted. He was credited with two passes defensed at USC, although both of these were in his junior year. He did not drop into coverage.

Special teams

Pelon actually made some good contributions on special teams, blocking a couple of kicks and a tackle following a long punt return. Here's one of the kick blocks, showing further evidence of his explosiveness at the snap:


I've already alluded to the potential issues Pelon sometimes seems to have with seeing how the play develops in front of him. However, that might just be a symptom of him being forced into a rotational role and then being as aggressive as possible trying to make an impact with the reps he received. Perhaps the Jets can encourage him to play with a more disciplined mindset, but we know Todd Bowles likes his linemen to play aggressively anyway.

Some might view the fact that Pelon was academically ineligible for some time as a knock on his intelligence or work ethic, but eventually overcoming that to get to a big school and retain eligibility is a positive sign.


As noted, the first half of Pelon's 2015 season was disrupted by injuries. He sprained his knee in the spring and needed arthroscopic knee surgery, causing him to miss the first game. He played the following week, but then suffered a high ankle sprain a few weeks later. That proved to be well timed as the team had a week off, so he hadn't missed any games when he was able to suit up two weeks later. However, he lasted just three snaps before spraining his knee, leading to him missing three more games. Finally healthy down the stretch, he played the most consistent football of his career.


The USC defensive line seems like a close-knit unit and, as a group, it worked hard to overcome the loss of Williams and numerous injury issues in 2015. Pelon obviously displayed toughness by overcoming injuries last season to finish the year strong. There don't seem to be any off-field concerns, either.

On the field, Pelon definitely has a fiery personality. In 2014, he committed six penalties, but showed much better discipline in 2015. The only time he was penalized all year was an offside and 12-men on the field double-penalty late in the win over Arizona, which might not even have been his fault.

Scheme fit

Since Pelon is following in Williams' footsteps by making the jump from USC to the Jets, you might think he'd be a similarly ideal fit. However, Williams played in three different systems in each of his years with the Trojans (4-3, 5-2 and 3-4) whereas Pelon was just in a 3-4 system. Typically, a 3-4 system would mean that players did a lot of two-gapping, but Pelon played with an attacking mindset, so that could mean he fits in well with the Jets.

Williams might be a helpful familiar face to have in the building for Pelon. Even though they played just one season together, they apparently knew each other pretty well before Pelon decided to go to USC.


If there's a theme to the Jets' undrafted free agent class so far, it's that the Jets have targeted a group of players whose potential value might have been overlooked by other teams. Pelon could have got lost in the shuffle on a USC defensive line with a lot of NFL talent and didn't have much statistical production, but he still contributed well and developed to the point where he was playing his best football right at the end of his final season.

Had he remained healthy all year and produced like he did over the second half of the season, Pelon might have drawn a lot more attention and perhaps would have been a candidate for postseason honors and a projected late-round pick.

Pelon is one of three 300-pound defensive linemen the Jets brought in via undrafted free agency and, if they can all remain healthy, they might end up getting some significant preseason reps with the third unit. If Pelon can repeat some of the impressive things he was able to do in college when given that chance, he'll give himself a strong chance of at least being retained as a practice squad project.

Up next: We'll take a look at Temple wide receiver Robby Anderson. Could he compete for a roster spot? Let us know in the comments who you'd like us to look at after that.

 (Thomas J. Russo)
(Thomas J. Russo)

New York Jets WR Eric Decker believes QB Ryan Fitzpatrick will be back with the team by late July, the wide receiver said in an interview on the NFL Network. 

"Right now, it's a business and they're so far off in dollar amount, but Ryan wants to be back, they want Ryan back," said Decker. "Something is going to happen. It might be before training camp, the day or two before, but I believe that he'll be back on the team come this fall."

While it is unknown if the Jets have given Fitzpatrick a hard deadline, the team has dropped strong hints about wanting to have a resolution to their quarterback situation by the start of training camp in late July, as reported by Rich Cimini of ESPN.

However other reports say there is a deadline for the two parties to agree on a deal. May 24th, the first day of Jets OTAs, is the first legitimate deadline that both sides want a deal to be done if Fitzpatrick is to remain with the team, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

As of now, the Jets are Fitzpatrick's only suitor. That is unlikely to change unless another team's quarterback suffers an injury over the next couple of weeks, meaning this staring contest between the Jets and Fitzpatrick could potentially go on for another two months. 

"All I can say is we have to move on without him right now because they are stuck where they are with the business decision, where they want to go with the money, who's going to break," Decker told reporters. "But, again, we have a job to do and that's to be the best football team, field the best football team, of who we have in the locker room right now."

Tags: Eric Decker , Ryan Fitzpatrick

 (Derik Hamilton)
(Derik Hamilton)

This year, I've again been breaking down each of the Jets' rookies in detail and we're now into the undrafted free agent signings. On Sunday, I looked at Jason Vander Laan, the quarterback-turned-tight end from Ferris State, but now I move on to look at Temple offensive lineman Kyle Friend. I've been conducting research and watching game footage to try and assess what he brings to the table.

The 22-year old Friend is listed 6'2" and 305 pounds and started 43 games for the Temple Owls over the past four years, spending the last three as a team captain and the starting center. He was a projected late round pick after having been named on the All-AAC first team last season. Friend turned heads at his pro day with 41 bench press reps.

Note: Some stats from this article are exclusively provided by Pro Football Focus.

Who is Kyle Friend?

Friend had an impressive high school career, where he excelled at guard and defensive tackle. He also had a background in wrestling.

As a freshman, Friend started five games at guard before becoming the starter at center due to injury. The following year, he was named as the full time starter at center and his season got off to an impressive start against projected first round pick Louis Nix of Notre Dame. Friend held his own against Nix, an eventual third round pick, who registered just one tackle, although he did get plenty of help.

Friend started every game in 2013 and 2014, making his way onto the Rimington watch list. In 2015, he started the season well, but missed four games after suffering a torn MCL eight games into the season. He returned for the conference championship game and the team's bowl game before participating in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl all-star game.

After being a combine snub, Friend put on an impressive performance at Temple's pro day and was a projected late-round pick but went unselected and was signed as an undrafted free agent.

Let's move onto some more in-depth analysis of what Friend brings to the table, based on my research and film study.

To read more, click here.

Undrafted free agent Jason Vander Laan brings an interesting background to the Jets. (Photo courtesy Ferris State)
Undrafted free agent Jason Vander Laan brings an interesting background to the Jets. (Photo courtesy Ferris State)

This year, I've again been breaking down each of the Jets' rookies in detail and we're now into the undrafted free agent signings. Saturday, I looked at Western Carolina defensive tackle Helva Matungulu. Now, I move on to look at former Ferris State quarterback Jason Vander Laan, who is joining the Jets as a tight end. I've been conducting research and watching game footage to try and assess what he brings to the table.

Vander Laan, 23, is listed at 6-foot-4, 244 pound,s and is a two-time winner of the Harlon Hill trophy, the Division II equivalent of the Heisman. He starred at quarterback for Ferris State the past four seasons as it went 37-9 team went 37-9,  including 22-2 over the last two years. Vander Laan holds the all-time record for rushing yards by a college quarterback, but also passed for over 8,000 yards and 85 touchdowns in his four seasons.

However, he's joining the Jets as a tight end, having worked on developing his skills at the position over the offseason.

Note: Some stats from this article exclusively provided by Pro Football Focus.

Who is Jason Vander Laan?

In high school, Vander Laan was a three-year starter at quarterback, although he only completed 41 percent of his passes. However, he showcased his versatility by also playing defensive back and punting. He was also a good basketball player.

Vander Laan wasn't heavily recruited by colleges and opted to accept a scholarship from Division II Ferris State over the chance to walk-on at Illinois State, who wanted him to play linebacker.

Vander Laan developed over the course of the next four seasons in coach Tony Annese's read-option system and the team grew with him. After going 15-7 over their first two seasons with Vander Laan, Ferris State had two consecutive unbeaten regular seasons, falling short in the postseason each time. That included a 38-34 upset loss to Grand Valley State in the NCAA Divison II semifinals as the No. 2 seed last year.

The four-season partnership between Vander Laan and Annese brought Ferris State into contention for a national title, while enhancing Annese's reputation as a potential candidate for an FBS job in the near future. As for Vander Laan, he broke a 24-year old record for the most rushing yards by a quarterback by over 700 yards, finishing up just short of 6,000 yards and adding 81 touchdowns.

Vander Laan wasn't just a running quarterback though, as he completed 63 percent of his passes for over 8,000 yards with 85 touchdowns with just 29 interceptions.

During the offseason, Vander Laan worked out as a quarterback and also at tight end and worked out for pro scouts at Northwestern and Central Michigan's pro days.

To read more, click here.

This year, I've again been breaking down each of the Jets' rookies in detail and will now be moving on to look at the undrafted free agent signings. On Tuesday, I looked at the rookie kickers and punters but now we move on to look at Western Carolina defensive tackle Helva Matungulu. I've been conducting research and watching game footage to try and assess what he brings to the table.

The 24-year old Matungulu is 6-foot-5 and 296 pounds, and was only introduced to football five years ago, having grown up in Nairobi, Kenya. In three years as a defensive tackle for the Western Carolina Catamounts, he played in 31 games with 17 starts and recorded 53 tackles and three sacks.

Note: Pro Football Focus exclusively provides some stats from this article.

Who is Helva Matungulu?

Having grown up in Kenya, Matungulu arrived at Western Carolina in 2011, where he studied molecular biology. Apparently, he got lost, finding his way onto the football field, where the coaches liked his size and asked him to join the team. It's a great story, which you can read in more detail here.

While he had played soccer, basketball and rugby, the game of football was completely new to Matungulu, so the coaching staff had to go back to basics to teach him the game. After two years on the scout team, he finally saw his first game in action in 2013 and would go on to start three games that year. In his senior year, he set career highs in starts (eight), tackles (23) and sacks (1.5).

By the end of his career, Matungulu drew interest from NFL scouts. He played in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl All-Star game and participated at Appalachian State's pro day in front of NFL scouts.

Let's move on to look at some more in-depth analysis based on my research and film study.


Most of Matungulu's workout numbers are average or thereabouts for his size, but he shows flashes of explosiveness, power and agility on film.

Matungulu ran a 4.91-second 40-yard dash in 2014, which would have been elite for his position, but he only ran a 5.11 at his pro day workout. It's possible he's bulked up significantly since then because he was only listed at 280 pounds a year or two ago, but now weighs 296.

I couldn't find an official measurement for his wingspan, but he does appear to display good length.


The Catamounts operated a basic 4-3 system with Matungulu almost always operating as a defensive tackle on the left side of the formation and lining up across from a guard, occasionally shading the center. In two games charted, he played 103 snaps, and only eight were on the right side of the formation. In those 103 snaps, he was standing up at the line on two and lined up outside the tackle just once. He would usually only match up with a tackle when the defensive end stunted to the inside.


As noted, Matungulu played 103 snaps in the two games I charted, so he's obviously capable of taking on a big workload. I didn't see any obvious signs of fatigue from him and he seemed to play consistently hard.

Run defense

Apparently, one of Matungulu's biggest issues when he started was that he played with his stance high all the time and got pushed around. The coaching staff gave him a better understanding of leverage and techniques, but this will be something he'll have to try and remain as consistent as possible with as he enters the NFL. It's expected he will be extremely raw, given his total lack of experience along with the jump in quality of opponent.

Despite these concerns, Matungulu does show an ability to make plays against the run, largely through his impressive athleticism. I watched him against Southeastern Conference opposition in Tennessee and Texas A&M, and he put some good moments on film against that level of competition.

Here, Matugulu makes an extremely athletic play, essentially leap-frogging over a cut block attempt, maintaining his balance to break down in front of the ball carrier and then closing to secure the stuff in the hole.

He makes this play in a different fashion, using his strength to penetrate into the backfield and then shedding the block to wrap up the runner. It's good to see him displaying good leverage and hand placement to get the job done here:

Finally, here's yet more evidence of his athletic ability, as he's able to burst into the backfield and then change course and use his length to pull the runner down for no gain.


Matungulu seems to be a solid tackler, using his long arms to secure the ball carrier, though he had one missed tackle in a game against Tennessee. He forced one fumble in his career.

Pass rush

Matungulu didn't put up big pass rush numbers in college, as he was considered more of a run stuffer. He recorded three sacks in total, although he only had a full sack once (with four half-sacks).

He showed some ability to generate pressure in the Tennessee game, displaying an ability to get some traction on a bull rush. On this play, he drove the guard back and then got off the block to hit the quarterback:

Here, the end stunts inside so he ends up against the right tackle. Again, he drives him back, flushing the quarterback from the pocket.

Batting passes

Matungulu will make the effort to get his hands up when rushing the passer at times, but not always. He had one pass defensed back in 2013.

Special teams

I don't believe Matungulu made any special teams contributions at Western Carolina. A player his size might be expected to rush kicks, block on the placekicking unit or operate as a wedge blocker on the kickoff return unit at the pro level.


Matungulu is obviously an intelligent person, as evidenced by his love of science and the fact he speaks three languages. His unfamiliarity with the sport is obviously a downside, but his experience in other sports could be useful in terms of honing his instincts in football, like playing in space.

Before settling at defensive tackle, Matungulu was also tried at offensive tackle, tight end and defensive end, so Western Carolina obviously settled on a position in which he was most comfortable.


Matungulu missed at least one game in each of his three seasons and four overall. At least one of these was due to a back injury.


Matungulu has been described as extremely coachable because he catches on quickly and is fun to work with. He seems to have a business-like approach on the field from what I saw.

In 2015, he had one personal foul after a big play by Furman.

Scheme Fit

Matungulu could fit well in the Jets' system, which gives linemen the flexibility to play on the inside or outside. As he has more experience on the inside, I'd assume that would be where the Jets would use him first.


If Matungulu can make it through camp healthy, there's a significant role waiting for him based on how the Jets used their defensive linemen last year. The Jets gave plenty of opportunities to Davon Walls, Jordan Williams and Deon Simon while spelling their more experienced veterans in preseason. The trio combined for 237 snaps in preseason, primarily playing together and earning valuable game reps.

Of the three, only Walls is currently not with a team. Williams eventually saw regular season action with Miami, and while Simon -- who had 1.5 preseason sacks -- did not see any playing time, he spent time on the Jets' 53-man roster and practice squad, and is now expected to work his way into the rotation.

If the Jets do something similar this year, Matungulu might get a chance for some significant opportunities to make an impression in direct comparison to the other young linemen the team has brought in. With his untapped potential, he's got to be a good bet to be promising enough as a long-term project to be retained as a practice squad candidate.

Up next: We'll take a look at quarterback-turned-tight end Jason Vander Laan from Ferris State. What do we know about the small-school prospect? Let us know in the comments who you'd like us to look at after that.

 (Logan Bowles)
(Logan Bowles)

The Jets have signed OLB Jordan Jenkins, the team announced.

Jenkins, who was selected in the third round (83rd overall) in the draft, had 59 tackles and five sacks last season for Georgia, where he served as the defensive co-captain.

He had 205 tackles and 19 sacks during his career at Georgia.

 (Logan Bowles)
(Logan Bowles)

The Jets have signed two more of their draft picks, second-round QB Christian Hackenberg and seventh-round WR Charone Peake, the team announced today.

Hackenberg's deal is for four years, $4.7 million, according to Rich Cimini of ESPN. His cap number for 2016 is $847,000.

Hackenberg started 38 games at Penn State, and became the only QB to ever pass for 8,000 yards. The QB also set school records for touchdowns (48), completions (693), and total offense (8,215). In 2015, Hackenberg passed for 2,525 yards, 16 touchdowns and six interceptions.

Peake had his best season for Clemson last year as a redshirt senior. The wide receiver had 50 receptions for 716 yards and five touchdowns. For his Clemson career, Peake made 99 catches for 1,172 yards and 10 touchdowns.

The Jets now have four of their seven draft picks signed. The team announced the signings of fourth-round CB Juston Burris and seventh-round P Lachlan Edwards last week.

 (Russell Isabella)
(Russell Isabella)

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This year, I've again been breaking down each of the Jets' draft picks in detail and will now be moving on to look at the undrafted free agent signings. Over the weekend, I took a look at one of the Jets' seventh round picks, Clemson wideout Charone Peake, but now I move on to discuss the other seventh rounder. Since he's a punter -- Lachlan Edwards from Sam Houston State -- I'll be reviewing him along with a couple of undrafted free agents who are also looking to make contributions in the kicking game: Utah punter Tom Hackett and Duke placekicker Ross Martin. I've been conducting research and watching game footage to try and assess what each of them brings to the table.

The 24-year-old Edwards is 6'4" and 209 pounds and spent the past two seasons punting for Sam Houston State of the Southland conference. By contrast, Hackett -- who is also 24 -- is just 5'11" and 198 pounds. He is a two-time Ray Guy award winner; the award given annually to college football's top punter. They're both Australian and have a background in Australian Rules Football. Martin, 22, stands just 5'9" and 183 pounds but has been one of college football's most consistent placekickers over the past two seasons.

Note: Some stats from this article are exclusively provided by Pro Football Focus.

Who are Lachlan Edwards, Tom Hackett and Ross Martin?

Edwards joined the Sam Houston State team in 2013 after having been discovered kicking a football around in a local park and being directed towards an Australian punting academy. He actually split duties with another punter, although he did get more of the workload after the first year.

Edwards was able to increase his gross average from 42.3 yards per punt in his first season to 44.1 in year two and only one out of every 16 punts was a touchback, as opposed to one in 10 in his first season. By contrast, his final season was statistically disappointing as his gross average dropped to a career-low 41.5 and one out of every nine punts was a touchback. However, he landed the ball inside the 20 at a greater rate, so it's possible the reduction in yardage was because he attempted more punts from closer to the end zone.

Hackett was on Utah's team for four years, having also joined a punting academy while in Australia. His gross punting numbers were more impressive than Edwards, especially over the past two seasons, where he had 46.7 yards per punt in 2014 and 48.0 in 2015. Hackett's overall numbers were good, too, as he landed the ball inside the 20 at a higher rate, although he did also have more touchbacks over the past two years (18 in 141 punts, as opposed to 13 in 154 by Edwards).

Martin, who PFF called the most accurate kicker in this year's class, actually missed four field goals from inside 40 yards in 2015. However, he was perfect from inside 40 in 2014. Over the course of the past two years, he's made eight of 10 from 50 yards or longer, although the longest was only 53 yards. He's been less impressive on kickoffs, with poor numbers and two that were returned for touchdowns last season.

Let's move on to look at some more in-depth analysis based on my research and film study.

Measurables and Intangibles

There's an obvious difference in size (five inches and 11 pounds) between Edwards and Hackett, with Edwards being closer to the prototypical punter size NFL teams tend to favor. Hackett once described himself as "fat" and said that he "runs like a penguin" but has actually displayed some impressive athleticism. I already shared one incredible fake punt run when I wrote the special teams BGA before the draft, but here's another:

All-in-all, Hackett has an impressive 106 rushing yards on just four carries. He also displayed superior physicality by recording 13 career special teams tackles -- 10 more than Edwards. As the above comments show, he's quite a character, although he made more controversial comments before Utah's bowl game against BYU.

Martin is smaller than current Jets kicker Nick Folk, but he pitched in with nine special teams tackles in college.


I don't believe any of the three had any significant injuries while playing college football. Edwards did have a shoulder problem back in 2011 from playing Aussie Rules, though, which caused him to miss an entire season.

A difference in style

The Edwards-Hackett battle promises to be fascinating, with the potential to revolutionize the NFL kicking game.

Let's consider Edwards as the baseline. The Jets drafted what they considered to be the best conventional punter on the board before landing Hackett, a more boom-or-bust type of player, as an undrafted free agent.

Edwards' biggest strength is the hang time he gets on his kicks. Despite his Australian background, he uses a conventional punting style and is technically proficient, even in the face of a rush. He didn't have a punt blocked in his college career.

PFF charted just six punts from Edwards in 2015 because he played just one game against division one opposition. However, his best hang time was 4.85 seconds, over two-tenths better than Hackett's best of the year. When interviewed, Edwards mentioned how crucial this is and that he wants to avoid out-kicking his coverage. He also noted that he would need to work on placement because NFL teams typically kick to one sideline or the other to limit the return man's options.

Hackett, on the other hand, often uses a rugby-style technique. This style has been used in the NFL but very sparingly and only by punters who primarily use a conventional technique. For various reasons, NFL teams don't like this style, but Hackett's numbers were so good in college that perhaps he has a chance to break the mold.

Let's first explain what a rugby-style punt is before we discuss what is good and bad about it. Instead of standing directly behind the long-snapper and kicking the ball straight down the field with a high leg-kick follow-through off a two-step walk-up, a rugby-style punter will run laterally and kick the ball from a lower drop point.

Here's an example of Hackett using a rugby-style punt, but because he kicks such a low line-drive, this gives the return man a chance to get some yardage on the return.

In Hackett's defense, he actually did a good job of limiting return yardage last year. Other than a 48-yard return against Arizona State, there was just 17 yards of return yardage all year, most of which was on the above play. In watching footage of Edwards, there were more successful returns, albeit primarily due to poor tackling by the coverage units and not kick placement.

That lack of hang-time is the obvious main disadvantage of a rugby-style punt. You also would need to overhaul your protection schemes and there are rule differences that could make this problematic in the NFL. Teams might also be concerned that there's more chance of something bad happening when their punter is required to run with the ball. Remember the end of Michigan v Michigan State?

There are some potential advantages too, though. By running laterally before the kick, the punter can mitigate the effect of lower hang-time by giving his coverage unit a couple of extra seconds to get down the field. Also, Hackett uses the lack of hang time to his advantage because he kicks the ball so far and so accurately that the return man often can't get to it before it bounces, which dissuades them from attempting a return.

Also worth mentioning is that the ability for a conventional punter to use a rugby-style punt from time-to-time could be an effective weapon. If the return man isn't expecting it, he might be more likely to misjudge the ball, let it bounce or even muff it. In addition, the ability to use that style gives a punter an effective emergency option to get his kick off in the event of a protection bust, because rugby players are adept at kicking "around" on-rushing defenders and still getting an effective kick off.

However, wouldn't it be easier to teach Edwards -- a good conventional punter -- how to use a rugby-style technique occasionally if you felt it could be a good weapon, rather than count on Hackett's ability to improve enough in terms of his conventional punting style to punt in the NFL?

Here's Hackett doing an effective job with a conventional punt, but he obviously lacks Edwards' textbook technique and impressive hang-time:

According to PFF, Hackett only used the conventional technique 20 times in 2015. And while I don't have a breakdown, I found he wasn't always as effective with it. Here's a bad shank:

What about Martin?

Martin's field goal kicking numbers are pretty solid, especially over the past two years. However, he had one major nemesis: Virginia Tech.

In 2013, Martin actually had one of his better games against Virginia Tech, nailing two early kicks from over 50 yards, including a career-best 53-yarder, as the Blue Devils clung on for a 13-10 upset win. However, they were his worst nightmare in 2014 and 2015.

In 2014, Martin was a perfect 12-for-12 heading into a matchup against the Hokies in the penultimate game of the regular season. He missed two field goals, and while one was from over 50 yards, the other was a 40-yarder that could have given the Blue Devils the lead with just over two minutes left in an eventual 17-16 loss. These would be his two only misses of the entire season.

Fast forward to 2015 and as Duke headed into another matchup with the Hokies, Martin was again 12-for-12: the only kicker in America with an active streak of 12 or more makes at that time. With the previous year's miss surely on his mind, he shanked an early chip shot, as the ball took an inexplicable Cary Blanchard-style right turn at the last moment.

A chance for redemption came with one minute left and a chance to kick the go-ahead field goal. However, Martin pushed his kick to the right and off the upright:

Ultimately, Martin would come up with the goods in overtime, making two field goals, although Duke eventually, won 45-43, on a two-point conversion in the third overtime period. One of his makes was this impressive 38-yarder, which had more than enough distance:

Martin did have a few more misses before the end of the season, including one the following week against Miami. It's interesting to note that, as with his missed kick at the end of the Hokies game, the kick was at an angle he'd never encounter at the NFL level due to the wider hashmarks in the college game. You can also see why he might not push the ball far enough inside the near upright, having pushed one too far and hit the far upright in the previous game:

What about his poor kickoff numbers, though? The average start-line for the opposition was a disappointing 28.3. How much do these numbers hurt his chances?

The first thing to note is that while 24 touchbacks on 84 kickoffs is not great, the numbers were skewed by a number of things. That included the two touchdown returns, and you can't really blame him on of those. It was the final play against Miami that saw him squib the ball down to the Miami 40 and then watch as Miami threw eight laterals and got away with multiple rules violations to run it back for the win. Also, he had this failed onside kick attempt to further skew the numbers.

Maybe one of the punters can be turned into a kickoff specialist, but the only experience either of them has is that Hackett has kicked off four times in the past two years and the only one from last year was a botched onside kick. In a similar vein, Martin could punt in an emergency because he did it in high school.

Now that the ball comes out to the 25-yard line on touchbacks anyway, there's some sense that this means teams are better off laying the ball up short of the goal line and trying to make the stop before the runner reaches the 25. So maybe you don't want a touchback specialist -- something Folk has never been anyway.


It's obvious why Hackett earned cult status among the draft community and the temptation to base your kicking game around him would be so high. You need only watch the Oregon game last year to be sold on him as the best punter of all time -- after he boomed a 76-yarder over the return man's head, ran 33 yards on a fake punt and landed two punts inside the five.

Alternatively, you could just watch the second quarter of the bowl game win over BYU and you'd see him nailing a 55-yarder and a 56-yarder before landing his next two punts inside the five like a golfer landing a seven-iron on the green:

Jets fans have wanted a flip-the-field type of punter for years and years and Hackett actually admitted that's not what he is in a recent interview. Could he be something more than that, though? If not, could Edwards be that guy?.

It's going to be extremely interesting to compare and contrast their work in camp, especially with the difference in style. Ultimately, if both perform well, the final decision might come down to how much of a chance new special teams coach Brant Boyer and the coaching staff in general are prepared to take on Hackett.

Let's not underestimate or forget about Edwards, though. He seems to have a lot of talent. In a best-case scenario, they will both shine in camp and the Jets will be able to recoup a future pick for one of them from a punter-needy team.

As for Martin, does he have a realistic shot to beat out Folk? While Rex Ryan may have trusted Folk because he never cost them a game until Ryan's final season, Folk didn't attempt any vital kicks under Bowles and then got hurt and missed the end of the season. And that actually resulted in his cheaper replacement, Randy Bullock, making crucial kicks in three games. Bowles, therefore, has no emotional ties to Folk and might prefer to bring in someone younger and save some cap room (about $2 million this year and $4 million over the next two).

If they both perform well, maybe the fact he's cheaper and younger will give him the edge over the incumbent Folk.

Up next: We're going to be moving on to look at each of the undrafted free agents in turn, starting with defensive lineman Helva Matungulu from Western Carolina.

Jun 9, 2015; Florham Park, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) and New York Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall (15) during New York Jets minicamp at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports (Ed Mulholland)
Jun 9, 2015; Florham Park, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) and New York Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall (15) during New York Jets minicamp at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports (Ed Mulholland)

Jets WR Brandon Marshall has confidence in QB Geno Smith if he's the starter this season, writes Darryl Slater of

"A hundred percent confident in Geno," Marshall said, according to Slater. "I think he's grown so much from the first conversation I had with him, before I got traded [from Chicago last offseason], and also since [early] last year when we were roommates."

"He's an ultimate pro right now," Marshall continued. "I don't know if that's always been the answer [about him]. But I'm just so proud of the kid, because the areas where he's been challenged, he's grown and gotten better."

In addition to Smith, the Jets have Bryce Petty and the recently drafted Christian Hackenberg on the roster.

The team also remains interested in re-signing free agent Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Brian Bassett, Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | TJB Posts

Marshall did the right thing by sticking by the team and his (current) starting QB. There is absolutely nothing to gain by Marshall saying something inflammatory. He's stumped for his guy (Fitzpatick) and his guy hasn't come to terms with the Jets -- at least not yet.

Marshall showed the same support last year when Geno was the presumptive starter. Sure, Fitzpatrick's surprise 2015 season changed the perception of the situation, but it hasn't changed how Marshall will carry it in front of the New York media.

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This could be seen a bad sign, since Marshall saying this now could mean he sees Fitzpatrick's return as less likely than he did a few weeks or months ago. When Marshall made similar comments last year, I was suspicious as to how genuine that sentiment was because it almost seemed like he was trying to dupe Smith into believing he was good enough.

Clearly, by the end of the season, Marshall had come to the conclusion that Fitzpatrick was the right man for the job, so perhaps the timing of these comments should be seen as troubling. Of course, that's assuming he wasn't simply blindsided by a "how confident would you be in Geno if he ended up as the starter?" question. If that was the case, what else was he going to say?

Tags: Brandon Marshall , Bryce Petty , Geno Smith , Brian Bassett

Joe Namath on Jets, Fitzpatrick 00:01:00
Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Namath chats with SNY's Michelle Yu about the Jets' QB situation.

Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Namath chats with SNY's Michelle Yu about the Jets' QB situation.

Tags: Ryan Fitzpatrick

 (Jim O'Connor)
(Jim O'Connor)

The Jets have added TE Jerome Cunningham and have waived RB-KR Dri Archer, the team announced on Monday.

Cunningham signed with the Giants as a rookie free agent in 2014. He spent time on their practice squad in 2014 before being active for the final two regular season games. The tight end appeared in nine games for the Giants in 2015 and finished the year with eight receptions for 59 yards.

Archer signed a reserve/future contract with the Jets in February. A third-round pick of the Steelers in 2014, Archer played in 20 games for the Steelers and had 23 kickoff returns for a 22.4-yard average. Archer also had 17 offensive touches for 63 total yards in 2014. 

 (Melina Vastola)
(Melina Vastola)

The Jets have signed CB Bryson Keeton and waived TE Adrien Robinson, the team announced.

Keeton, 23, played for Montana state the last two seasons and had participated in the Jets' recent rookie minicamp.

Robinson, 27, had signed a reserve/futures contract with the Jets in January.

He played with the Giants from 2012 until he was waived this past September.



Utah Utes punter Tom Hackett receives a snap during the second half against the Colorado Buffaloes at Rice-Eccles Stadium. (Russell Isabella/USA Today Sports Images)
Utah Utes punter Tom Hackett receives a snap during the second half against the Colorado Buffaloes at Rice-Eccles Stadium. (Russell Isabella/USA Today Sports Images)

Lachlan Edwards and Tom Hackett are two laid-back guys from Down Under trying to get a leg up in the New York Jets' punting competition.

The Australian-born players are squaring off this offseason for a job in the NFL after successful college careers in the United States.

"It's the Aussie showdown in New York City, I guess," Hackett said with a smile during Jets rookie minicamp.

Across town, the Giants have their own Australian punter in Brad Wing, who is from Melbourne, like Hackett. Australian punters are becoming increasingly more common in the NFL. The Jets had Ben Graham a few years ago, and Wing, Darren Bennett, Sav Rocca, Mat McBriar and Chris Bryan have all kicked in the league.

"The Jets got jealous," Hackett joked. "So, I guess they'll end up with one, too. Me or Lach will win the job and hopefully have a good year."

Edwards was a seventh-round pick of the Jets last weekend after playing three years at Sam Houston State, where he never had a kick blocked while establishing himself as one of college football's most powerful punters. Before New York drafted him, it had no punters on its roster after letting incumbent Ryan Quigley sign with Philadelphia as a free agent after three mostly inconsistent seasons.

"I just want to be the new guy," said Edwards, who's from Hastings, Australia. "I know the Jets have struggled recently with their punting, so I'd like to be that new guy coming in to fix that problem."

Jets coach Todd Bowles said the competition will "definitely" go into training camp.

"Obviously, you have two young guys that haven't done it in the league before," he said. "We will see what they do when they get under pressure and we get to rush a little bit and see if they can boom them out of there." >> Read more

Tags: Brad Wing , Ryan Quigley

Jets Nation: Hackenberg 00:02:13
Kerith Burke catches up with Christian Hackenberg and talks about his career at Penn State and getting accustomed to New York.

Jets coach Todd Bowles got a chance to look at the team's rookies this weekend. (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)
Jets coach Todd Bowles got a chance to look at the team's rookies this weekend. (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

What coach Todd Bowles said Sunday as the Jets wrapped up their third and final day of rookie minicamp. The focus was on the competition at punter and linebacker:

  • On the punting competition that includes seventh-round pick Lachlan Edwards and undrafted Tom Hackett: "Yeah, it's definitely going to go on into training camp. Obviously you have two young guys that haven't done it in the league before. One has a very strong leg, the other is a very good directional punter. We will see what they do when they get under pressure and we get to rush a little bit and see if they can boom them out of there."
  • On putting 2015 draft pick Lorenzo Mauldin at Will (weakside) linebacker and '16 pick Jordan Jenkins at Sam (strongside): "(We did it to give them a chance to be) on the field at once, plus (Jenkins) played (the strong side more) in college. He was (more) use to playing over the tight end a little more. They (move) the tight end so much they are both going to be interchangeable. You say Sam and Will by alignment, but what they do on offense dictates who is the Sam and who is the Will."
  • On why Jenkins did not get more sacks at Georgia: "I can't really explain that. I was looking more at the player. Sometime schemes differ in college than they are in the pros. When you play over the tight end side, generally, they slide the protection that way quite a bit. I'm not saying he should have had more or shouldn't have had more. We just know he is a good football player. But I can't speak for them schematically."
  • On Erin Henderson: "Erin was a tough player before he got put out of the league. He missed a year and when he came back he did everything the right way. He was a good team p layer for us, he knows how to play the position inside and he was just one of those players, not so much a knock on Demario (Davis') play, but Erin was getting better and we wanted to put him on the field."
  • On comparing the number of sacks undrafted Freddie Bishop had under CFL rules to the NFL:" I don't know that you compare the number, but 11 sacks is 11 sacks. I was in Miami when Cameron Wake got there and we took him from Canada. Sometimes it takes guys time to develop and you can develop over there and come back over here and be good players or can develop over there and have a career over there. We saw some things in Freddie, not just the sacks, but as far as him playing the position and knowing how to play the position that made him appealing to us and made us want to sign him."
  • On when he expects wide receiver Devin Smith to return from an ACL injury for practice and if he'll be ready for camp: "I'm not sure. Coming off an injury like that we will just have to wait and see. I just have to listen to what the trainers and doctors tell me and see how he progresses."

Former Clemson wide receiver Charone Peake could be a surprise contributor for the Jets. (Joe Camporeale)
Former Clemson wide receiver Charone Peake could be a surprise contributor for the Jets. (Joe Camporeale)

This year I am again breaking down each of the Jets draft picks (and most of the undrafted free agent signings) in detail. On Thursday, we took a look at the Jets' fifth-round pick, South Carolina offensive tackle Brandon Shell, but now we move on to discuss one of their seventh rounders, wide receiver Charone Peake from Clemson.

I've been watching game footage to try and assess what he brings to the table. Peake, 23, is listed as 6-foot-2, 209 pounds and caught 99 passes in five seasons at Clemson, 50 in his redshirt senior year, along with five of his 10 career touchdowns.

Peake sustained an ACL tear early on in the 2013 season, having been behind Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins earlier on in his Clemson career.

Note: Some stats from this article are exclusively provided by Pro Football Focus.

Who is Charone Peake?

Peake was a heavily-recruited high school player who headed to Clemson in 2012. Over his first two seasons, he played 27 games but didn't see a lot of action with the likes of Watkins, Hopkins and Martavis Bryant all ahead of him.

After catching just four passes as a true freshman, Peake had a better sophomore campaign that saw him catch 25 passes and score the first two touchdowns of his career. Although he averaged less than seven yards a catch - much lower than his career averages - Peake looked set to break out in his junior campaign.

Unfortunately, after a good start to the season, Peake tore his ACL after just two games of the 2013 season and was given a medical redshirt. His return in 2014 was also limited due to knee issues and he caught just 12 passes in eight games. Finally healthy in 2015, Peake was in danger of getting lost in the shuffle but saw an opportunity for more playing time when Mike Williams was injured in the first game.

Peake's production his senior year surpassed that of the first four combined. Peake had the only 100-yard game of his career when he caught seven passes for 120 yards against Syracuse and ended on a high when he caught six passes for 99 yards against Alabama in the national title game, including two against Patriots draftee Cyrus Jones late.

Heading into the offseason, Peake fared well at the Senior Bowl, but didn't stand out from the pack. He ran a fast 40-yard dash at the combine, although his other numbers were underwhelming. However, when he reduced his 40 time again to 4.38 at his pro day, this drew more interest. While some felt he was worthy of being drafted much earlie

Peake lasted until the Jets' second pick in round seven, perhaps because of concerns over his knees. Let's move on to look at some of my own analysis from watching Peake's video. Here are my observations, divided into categories.

To read more, click here.

Corey Griffin and Brian Bassett put their wrap and reaction on the NFL Draft. 

Eric Galko from Optimum Scouting joins the show for a full breakdown of Christian Hackenberg, Darron Lee, and where the Jets stand heading into rookie minicamp.

Following Mets postgame on Sunday, Jets Nation will air, looking at the team's mini-camp and newly-drafted players. Tune in this Sunday on SNY!

OL Brandon Shell highlights 00:01:20 takes a look at the best plays of the season from South Carolina offensive lineman Brandon Shell.

This year I will once again be breaking down each of the Jets draft picks (and most of the undrafted free agent signings) in detail. On Thursday, we took a look at the Jets' fourth-round pick, cornerback Juston Burris from North Carolina State, but now we move on to discuss their fifth-round pick, South Carolina offensive tackle Brandon Shell. I've been watching game footage to try and assess what he brings to the table.

Shell is listed at 6-foot-5, 324 pounds and started 48 of 52 games over four seasons with the Gamecocks. He started at left tackle in 2015, having been the starting right tackle over the previous two seasons and for most of his freshman year. NFL Hall of Fame offensive lineman Art Shell is his great uncle.

Note: Some stats from this article are exclusively provided by Pro Football Focus

Who is Brandon Shell?

Shell was a high school All-American before being recruited to South Carolina in 2011. He eventually redshirted his freshman year due to shoulder issues after playing just four offensive snaps.

Shell started his first game at left tackle as a red-shirt freshman in 2012, but struggled and was benched. Three games later, he moved back into the starting line-up at right tackle and would remain as a starter for 47 straight games over the rest of his career.

After two excellent seasons at right tackle in 2013 and 2014, Shell was moved to left tackle in 2015 to replacing the departed Corey Robinson.

Let's move on to look at some of my own analysis from watching Shell's film. Here are my observations, divided into categories.


The imposing Shell has good size and excellent length with a powerful build. His workout numbers were good in terms of speed, agility and explosiveness. While he posted a disappointing 22 bench press reps, he does display good functional strength on film.

As a sign of how athletic he is, the Gamecocks ran a throw-back screen to him on a crucial two-point conversion attempt in the fourth quarter of their 23-22 upset loss to The Citadel in November. Shell caught the pass (which was a lateral so he didn't get flagged for being an ineligible receiver) but was cut down in the backfield. However, he must have displayed the ability to make that play in practice otherwise they'd never have tried it at such a crucial moment.


As noted, Shell started at right tackle for most of his career but was at left tackle in 2015 and for the first game of his career. When drafted, he told the media he was always more comfortable at right tackle, which is also where he played in high school. In the run-up to the draft, Shell had told reporters he would play left or right or even at guard if a team wanted him to.

Even though he was the left tackle in 2015, Shell did get to line up on the right sometimes, as the Gamecocks ran a lot of unbalanced line sets. That could make him a good option for jumbo packages, enabling the Jets to get some early production out of him assuming he doesn't win a starting role.

Here's an example of him in that role on the right side, controlling second-round draft pick Kevin Dodd at the point of attack.

Run Blocking 

Shell had a dominant season as a run blocker in 2014, but actually graded out negatively as a run blocker in 2015, according to PFF. Even so, he still showed flashes of dominance. Part of the reason for this was perhaps that he is more comfortable on the right side. Another factor was that the line as a whole was weakened, following the departure of NFL draftees A.J. Cann and Robinson.

One situation where Shell seemed to have a lot of negative plays was when throwing an immediate cut block at the snap. Whether this was something he could improve on technically, or simply something the scheme required him to do so often that his opponents were able to anticipate it, this led to a lot of players evading his block to make a play.

Shell is an effective double-team blocker and is so powerful that he regularly gets an initial surge at the line of scrimmage. He does sometimes lose leverage and allow his man to re-anchor and push back or get off the block though.

When he is at his best, Shell impresses with his athleticism and power in the running game. Let's look at some examples.

Here he sets an edge with a down block on a defensive tackle, getting excellent traction to drive him laterally and create a huge lane.

On this block, he breaks out to the second level and seals off the linebacker perfectly, again driving him laterally to create a lane.

On this second level block, he finds his target, turns him to the outside and drives him out of the play with a kick-out block.

This one is perhaps most impressive of all. On this play, Shell pulls to the outside, finds the inside linebacker in space and drives him completely out of the picture.

Clearly Shell has some tools to potentially be a very good run blocker. He just needs to improve upon his consistency and refine his technique.

Pass Protection 

Although Shell's run blocking grades weren't as good at left tackle as they had been when he was playing right tackle, his pass protection numbers were much better. According to PFF, Shell surrendered no sacks and just one quarterback hit in 2015, with only Spencer Drango and Joe Thuney (both of whom are expected to move to guard) having a better pass blocking efficiency score from this year's tackle class.

However, it's unrealistic to portray Shell as having made significant progress in this area. Perhaps because of their overall struggles in the line, South Carolina took extra measures to mitigate pressure and rarely left Shell on an island against a pass rusher unless there was a quick pass. South Carolina used moving pockets, left backs and tight ends in to block and threw a lot of quick passes to ensure their line wasn't overwhelmed. Their time to throw was less than 2.5 seconds almost 2/3 of the time, as opposed to just over half in the previous season.

It's especially interesting to review his performance against Clemson's Shaq Lawson in their final game of the year. Lawson plays almost exclusively on the right so Shell was matched up with him most of the time. Lawson had one sack, where he beat tight end Jerrell Adams, and, other than that, was credited with zero pressures. That should reflect well on Shell, but for most of the game he only matched up with Lawson a handful of times on plays that lasted more than a few seconds. He was required to block him a few times one-on-one down the stretch as South Carolina tried to mount a late comeback and actually held up quite well, though.

Here's one of the plays where he was matched up with him and, as you can see, he was too hesitant, as if anticipating a bull rush. Lawson blew past him for what should probably have been recorded as a pressure.

He did much better on this one though, anticipating and repelling the spin move from Lawson, even making the quarterback's job easier by taking him out of the passing lane.

Shell did block one-on-one a lot more as a right tackle in his junior season and fared reasonably well, giving up just three sacks and eight hits. These were mostly bunched together against some of the best pass rushers he faced, as he allowed one pressure or less in eight games. Shell had issues against the likes of Shane Ray and Dante Fowler in 2014. He was susceptible to outside pressure at times, but uses his long arms well and didn't get beaten inside very often.

Shell also uses cut blocks in pass protection and again doesn't always manage to do this effectively, as pass rushers either skip over him or get back up to generate pressure.


At times, Shell displays better technique than many of the project tackles that went earlier than him in this year's draft. He isn't always consistent with it, but he was a player who obviously made an effort to play with sound technique.

As already noted, he didn't have much success with cut blocks. Another issue was that - whether run blocking in space or pass protecting against an edge rusher - he sometimes bends at the waist and loses leverage, relying too much on his long arms instead of moving his feet.

However, when Shell does move his feet properly in pass protection, he tends to do well. He makes an effort to maintain a wide base, which when combined with the punches he fires off with his long arms, makes him effective against power moves and bull rushers. Despite scouting reports to the contrary, he does display the agility to counter inside moves so he could develop into an effective pass protector at the NFL level if he can establish and maintain sound technique.

Here's a play where pad level is a big issue and he gets stood up and driven into the backfield. That wasn't something that happened to him very often, but obviously this is another area where he will have to remain as consistent as possible at the NFL level.


Shell committed 13 penalties over the past two seasons, seven of which were in 2015. He was actually penalty-free in eight of 12 games, but had more than one penalty three times, including in back-to-back games in the middle of the season.

Shell can be prone to false starts and had some holding penalties either in space or when beaten in pass protection.


One thing that was impressive about Shell was that he seemed to be good at picking up stunts, making use of his long arms to pass off his man effectively.

Other than his false starts, one issue was that unblocked rushers came off his edge regularly, especially when he was on the left side. However, on none of these occasions did it seem like he blocked down when he shouldn't have, so that would appear to be a failing of the quarterback in terms of setting the protection.

Here's a good play where he perhaps didn't want to let Lawson get up field as quickly as he did, but recovered to instead kick him out and enable the option play over on that side to work.


His great uncle Art Shell, an NFL Hall of Famer, provides Brandon with not just pedigree and bloodlines, but also detailed feedback and pointers from watching his games. Presumably that's been a key factor in his development, so the Jets should make an effort to invite Art into camp, especially since Brandon might not play that much as a rookie.

With such a high-profile mentor, it's perhaps not surprising that Shell has been praised for his attitude, effort and work ethic. He's also been described as humble, modest and willing and he plays hard to the whistle. He also won academic honors and weight room honors while at South Carolina and improved his diet and worked hard to develop his technique in college.

In addition to the toughness he displayed by playing through some shoulder issues during his career, Shell also flashes some nastiness to his game. Here he pancakes a defensive lineman with the help of an initial double team.


Shell redshirted his freshman season because of shoulder issues and that continued to bother him. He eventually had offseason surgery to repair a torn labrum in 2015. Despite these issues, he hasn't missed a game due to injury, although he did get knocked out of one game as a freshman when he sprained his ankle.

Shell also saw his combine workout cut short due to a quadriceps injury. That was after Mel Kiper said he could solidify himself as a Day 2 pick with a strong performance.

Scheme Fit 

Over the course of his career at South Carolina, Shell played on both sides and in zone, man and gap-based blocking concepts. The offense used zone-read, wildcat and spread packages in addition to more conventional plays. These should give him a good basic foundation to develop into a contributor on a pro-scheme.

Those techniques used by South Carolina to mitigate pressure in 2015 have all been used by current Jets offensive coordinator Chan Gailey in the past, so while Shell might not project to be your classic blind-side protector, he hopefully shows solid enough fundamentals that you should be able to scheme around any tough match-ups he might find himself in if he proved to be a difference maker in the running game.


I thought there was a lot to like about this pick when the Jets made it and, having watched his film in detail, I'm still encouraged by this pickup - more than I had been with some of the other mid-round linemen the Jets have drafted in recent years.

He's obviously going to be a work-in-progress to some extent, otherwise he wouldn't still have been available on Day 3. However, the fact the Jets had been considering him with their fourth-round pick, and then felt strongly enough about him to give up a future fourth-round pick to secure him, suggests that they feel they've got good value here.

With D'Brickashaw Ferguson's retirement, Ryan Clady's durability concerns and Breno Giacomini's shaky-at-best short-term roster prospects, the Jets need some younger players to step into a role and establish themselves as a long-term contributor. Shell is going to be part of that mix and it will be interesting to see how he fares compared with the likes of Brent Qvale and Ben Ijalana in camp. Even if he can't crack the rotation in his rookie season, I like Shell's chances of developing into a good right tackle as long as he can stay healthy.

Up next: A look at one of the Jets' seventh-round picks, wide receiver Charone Peake from Clemson. How can he give himself a chance of winning a roster spot?

Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Christian Hackenberg (14) throws a pass during the first quarter against the Georgia Bulldogs at EverBank Field. (Logan Bowles)
Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Christian Hackenberg (14) throws a pass during the first quarter against the Georgia Bulldogs at EverBank Field. (Logan Bowles)

Christian Hackenberg is used to all the scrutiny, the varying opinions about his skills and what he can and can't do on a football field.

Forget all that.

The New York Jets' second-round draft pick is in the NFL now, and he just might be a future franchise quarterback. For now, though, Hackenberg is simply ready to move on from an up-and-down career at Penn State that made him one of the most polarizing players in the draft.

"I think you're defined by how you react to adversity and how you're able to get back up," Hackenberg said before his first rookie minicamp practice Friday. "So, I think ultimately having to go through that at a young age and doing it through college is only going to help me in the long run. That's how I compartmentalize that. It's really been a stepping stone for me moving forward. I think it's only going to help."

His path was a bit uncertain for a while, especially depending on who you asked.

As a standout in high school at Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia, ESPN ranked him as the best pro-style quarterback recruit. He turned down several schools, such as Alabama, Florida and Tennessee, to go to Penn State - and maintained his commitment despite the NCAA sanctions against the Nittany Lions in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal.

Hackenberg had a terrific freshman season, throwing for 20 touchdowns and 2,955 yards under then-coach Bill O'Brien. But he seemed to regress after O'Brien left to become coach of the Houston Texans. He threw 28 TD passes, but also had 21 interceptions over the next two years, and was sacked a whopping 104 times in three seasons. >> Read more

Terron Beckham has bright blue hair, huge muscles and an even bigger NFL dream.

The colorful and confident cousin of Odell Beckham Jr. is getting an opportunity from the New York Jets to show he belongs here - even though he hasn't played in an organized football game since high school in 2010.

"I hope to show them that I'm a reliable back," said Beckham, a running back in rookie minicamp on a tryout basis. "I can do it all as far as catching, running, be powerful, be explosive, use my strength. Everybody knows that I'm a strong guy."

No doubt about it.

The 23-year-old Beckham is listed at 6-foot and a powerfully built 225 pounds. He became a bit of an internet sensation in recent months with his eye-popping workouts. Beckham has been a personal trainer and fitness model for the last few years, but had always had the desire to play in the NFL.

In April, he had an NFL combine-like pro day at TEST Sports Club in New Jersey. According to published reports, Beckham ran the 40-yard dash in 4.47 seconds, had a 44 1/2-inch vertical jump and bench-pressed 225 pounds 36 times in front of scouts from a handful of teams, including the Jets and Giants.

After the draft last weekend, the Jets called and offered him a chance to try out.

"I definitely think I'd be a big fit," Beckham said. "Matt Forte's here, but Chris Ivory just left (as a free agent), and I see myself as kind of that Chris Ivory-type of back, how he runs."

That would be a physical, aggressive running back who routinely pounds defenders. At the very least, Beckham looks the part. >> Read more...

Tags: Odell Beckham Jr.

GEICO SportsNite: Jets mini-camp 00:01:41
SNY reporter Kerith Burke reports from Jets rookie mini-camp where coach Todd Bowles spoke about expectations for Christian Hackenberg.

Syracuse Orange offensive tackle Sean Hickey (60) blocks Wake Forest Demon Deacons defensive end Tylor Harris (36) during the fourth quarter of a game at the Carrier Dome. Syracuse won the game 13-0. (Mark Konezny)
Syracuse Orange offensive tackle Sean Hickey (60) blocks Wake Forest Demon Deacons defensive end Tylor Harris (36) during the fourth quarter of a game at the Carrier Dome. Syracuse won the game 13-0. (Mark Konezny)

The Jets have waived offensive tackle Sean Hickey, the team announced Friday

Hickey, 6-foot-6, had signed a future/reserve contract with the team in late January. 

The 24-year-old Hickey went undrafted in 2015, but spent time as a practice squad member with both the Patriots and Saints last season. 

Hickey started 38 consecutive games to end his career at Syracuse, and was named third team All-ACC in his final year with the Orange. 

Laremy Tunsil is selected by the Miami Dolphins as the number thirteen overall pick in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft at Auditorium Theatre. (Kamil Krzaczynski/USA Today Sports Images)
Laremy Tunsil is selected by the Miami Dolphins as the number thirteen overall pick in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft at Auditorium Theatre. (Kamil Krzaczynski/USA Today Sports Images)

The New York Jets made an offer to the New York Giants on the first night of the NFL Draft so they could trade up for Ole Miss offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil, according to the New York Daily News' Gary Myers.

The Jets offered the Giants their first- and second-round picks, Nos. 20 and 51 overall, to the Giants for the 10th pick, according to Myers, for a chance to draft Tunsil, regarded as a top-three player in the draft before he fell on draft night in part due to a video of him smoking from a bong attached to a gas mask that surfaced immediately before the draft began.

Tunsil said his social media accounts, including his Instagram account that posted alleged messages between him and members of the Ole Miss athletics department that showed him asking for money, an NCAA violation, were hacked. He did not deny that the video of him smoking from the gas mask was him, though said it was old and added that he did not fail any recent drug tests.

Jets GM Mike Maccagnan had "strongly considered" trading with the Dallas Cowboys for the No. 4 pick and had previously expressed interest in trading up for Tunsil, a player he called a "good kid" when asked about him after the draft.

The Giants coveted cornerback Eli Apple and felt they didn't want to risk another team between No. 11 and 19 picking him, so they declined the trade. The Jets ended up drafting linebacker Darron Lee with the 20th pick and quarterback Christian Hackenberg with the 51st pick.

Tunsil ended up falling to No. 13, where the Miami Dolphins drafted him.


Updated Thursday, 10:48 p.m.: The Jets confirmed Thursday they have signed 13 undrafted free agents and have invited more 22 players to try out for the rookie minicamp that runs Friday through Sunday (comments by Bent of 

Robby Anderson, WR, Temple: Regarded as a possible mid-round pick after posting superb pro day numbers coming off a near-1,000 yard season.

Tarow Barney, DT, Penn State: Another athletic 300-pounder who did 31 bench press reps at his pro day.

Quenton Bundrage, WR, Iowa State: Regarded as a potential draft pick a year ago but had just 41 catches in ISU's run-first offense coming off a 2014 knee injury.

Kyle Friend, C/G, Temple: Starting center the last few years but also saw some time at guard and did 41 bench press reps at his pro day.

Tom Hackett, P, Utah: Two-time Ray Guy award winner who can compete with 7th round pick Lac Edwards.

Ross Martin, K, Duke: Pro Football Focus called Martin the most accurate kicker available in the draft and both could provide competition for Nick Folk.

Jalin Marshall, WR/KR, Ohio State: Electric receiver and punt returner who slid after his workout numbers weren't as good as expected.

Helva Matungulu, DL, Western Carolina: Matungulu grew up in Kenya and was another small-school prospect whose stock was said to be rising prior to the draft. 

Doug Middleton, S, Appalachian State: Heavy hitter who has played both safety positions and also some cornerback.

Julien Obioha, DE, Texas A&M 

Claude Pelon, DT, Southern Cal: 310-pound tackle who came on strong at the end of last year and did 33 bench press reps at his pro day.

Lawrence Thomas, DL, Michigan State: could play inside and out and shows promise against the run.

Jason VanderLaan, QB/TE, Ferris State: Athletic small school QB who the Jets are apparently going to convert to tight end.


Terron Beckham, RB:  Cousin of Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.  did not play in college, but has become an internet phenom with his workouts. At a pro day workout he ran a 4.47 40-yard dash, did a 44-inch vertical jump, an 11-foot broad jump and 36 reps on the bench.

Romar Morris, RB, North Carolina: Didn't play much last year, but ran a 4.36 40-yard dash at his pro day.

Dahon Taylor, OL, Virgina Union: Taylor is an athletic small-school prospect with good size from nearby Florence, NJ.

Other tryout invitees: 

LS Winston Chapman, Mississippi State   

LB Trent Corney, Virginia  

RB Roderick Davenport, St. Augustine   

OT Mathu Gibson, Wingate   

LB Ben Goodman, Kansas   

K Ryan Hawkins, Northern Arizona   

WR Montario Hunter, Elizabeth City   

CB Bryson Keeton, Montana State  

LB Hunter Kissinger, Louisiana Monroe   

OL Damian Love, Alabama State   

LB Taylor McDonnell, Newberry 

 QB Liam Nadler, Gannon   

LB Jake Payne, Shenandoah   

TE John Quazza, Colgate

K Daniel Sobolewski, Albright

S Peni Vea, UNLV  

S Alex Wells, Temple  

OL Hayden Wilks, Newberry   

DT Darren Wilson, Elizabeth City

OL Brandon Shell highlights 00:01:20 takes a look at the best plays of the season from South Carolina offensive lineman Brandon Shell.

The Jets announced Thursday night that they have signed three of the players taken in last week's draft: cornerback Juston Burris, tackle Brandon Shell and punter Lachlan Edwards. Their four other picks remain unsigned.

Burris was taken in the fourth round. He was a three-year starter at North Carolina State, with six career interceptions and 31 pass breakups. Last season, he was targeted 44 times and only allowed 15 completions and one TD. >>More on Burris here.  

Shell, the great nephew of Pro Football Hall of Famer Art Shell, was picked in the fifth round out of South Carolina. He played on the right side for three years before moving to the left last season. He played 52 games, started 48, and started the last 47 the second-longest consecutive-starts streak in school history. >>More on Shell here. .

Edwards, from Sam Houston State, went in the seventh round. He posted averages 42.3, 44.1 and 41.5 yards in his three seasons. Last year, 31 of his 74 punts landed inside the opponents 20-yard line. >>More on Edwards here. . .

The Jets have waived WR Joe Anderson, the team announced.

Anderson, 27, had been signed to the practice squad in December.

He originally signed with the Bears as an undrafted free agent in 2012.

His story went national last year when he stood outside the Houston Texans facility with a sign that read: "Not homeless...but STARVING for success!!! Will Run Routes 4 food."

A video posted by Joe Anderson (@_joeanderson) on


Brian Bassett, Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | TJB Posts

With a number of newly drafted players about to get signed, there is only so much room on the Jets roster namely a spot for seventh rounder Charone Peake. I'm sorry to see that Anderson won't get a chance to compete with the team in training camp this summer, but if the team really likes Anderson's potential as a special teamer or practice squadder they might yet bring him back should something else not work out for Anderson between now and training camp. Credit to Anderson for doing everything he could to latch on with a team ... I hope he gets another shot soon.

Juston Burris highlights 00:01:13
NC State CB Juston Burris highlights

This year I will once again be breaking down each of the Jets draft picks (and most of the undrafted free agent signings) in detail. On Tuesday, we took a look at the Jets' third round pick, linebacker Jordan Jenkins from Georgia, and now we move on to the discuss their fourth round pick, North Carolina State cornerback Juston Burris. I've been watching game footage to try and assess what he brings to the table.

Burris is listed at 6-feet and 212 pounds, and was a three-year starter at cornerback for the North Carolina State Wolfpack. He started 43 games over the course of his career, including the last 41 in a row, and recorded six interceptions, 31 passes defensed and two forced fumbles. Burris was a projected late-rounder in this year's draft before being selected by the Jets in the fourth round.

Note: Some stats from this article are exclusively provided by Pro Football Focus.

Who is Juston Burris?

Burris began his collegiate career as a nickel back, racking up a team-leading 13 passes defensed and three interceptions in his freshman season as he started five games.

Over the next three seasons, Burris started every game, developing into a leader by his senior season. He only had one interception each season, but racked up a total of 121 tackles and 18 passes defensed over those three years. NC State had a 25-26 record while Burris was on the team, but they ended up with a winning record in three of the four seasons.

Burris struggled at the East-West Shrine Game and his performances at the scouting combine and his pro day were good but not great.

Let's move on to look at some of my own analysis from watching Burris' film. Here are my observations, divided into categories.


Burris has good size for the position, although - unlike most of the Jets' picks this year - only has average arm length. He's big enough for a potential role at safety and has good strength, as displayed by his 19 bench press reps at the combine. Miles Killebrew (a 217-pound strong safety) and Sean Davis (who many are also projecting to safety) were the only defensive backs to beat that number.

Burris' straight line speed (4.53 40-yard dash) along with his vertical and broad jumps were adequate, but his agility numbers were poor. Based on this, he'd ideally be a good matchup for a bigger receiver or tight end, but might struggle with smaller and shiftier receivers.


Burris was employed almost exclusively as a boundary corner on the right side in 2015. He played just three snaps in the slot in 2014 and none last season. The only times where he wasn't used as the right cornerback were when there was no receiver on that side so he dropped off into a safety role. Even when he was a nickel back during his freshman year, he was still primarily used on the outside.

Coverage skills 

Burris put up pretty solid coverage numbers over the past couple of years, only giving up a completion on just over 50 percent of his targets.

One particular area where Burris really improved in his senior year was in terms of not getting beaten deep. In 2014, he gave up six catches of over 30 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown as he got torched down the sideline by a freshman against USF and a 31-yard touchdown on a diving catch by Mike Williams of Clemson. However, he had given up no 30-yard plays or touchdowns heading into the last game of the regular season in 2015. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to sustain that.

He let himself down in the last game against North Carolina, giving up this 53-yard touchdown in the first quarter. As you can see, he reacted badly to the burst of acceleration from his man and his safety wasn't able to get over and bail him out

Burris would give up another deep catch in the Belk Bowl, when he failed to get a clean jam on Mississippi State's De'Runnya Wilson at the line and got beaten down the sideline for 39 yards, although it looked like Burris would have recovered if not for a blatant push-off right before the ball arrived.

In those last two games, Burris was targeted 18 times and gave up his first two touchdowns of the season, after having been targeted less than three times per game over the first 11 game. The North Carolina game was by far his worst of the year, but he fared slightly better in the bowl game, with two pass breakups. Even with these two games, the average yardage given up on catches surrendered by Burris dropped from almost 18 in 2014 to just over 10 in 2015.  

One area where Burris will sometimes struggle is in off coverage. He seems to lack elite closing speed and acceleration and this can lead to easy completions underneath. There's an example of this below, followed by a play where he anticipates the  route of the receiver incorrectly and ends up losing his balance and giving up an easy touchdown (which the receiver drops).


Burris is a very physical player and was employed a lot in press coverage. He makes optimum use of the five-yard rule for contact beyond the line of scrimmage, but does play on the edge sometimes with this and his downfield hand-fighting. That could lead him to get flagged more than he did in college (six times last year, with four pass interference calls).

Burris plays up on the receiver on these two plays, giving up a quick slant for a first down while in pretty good position and then seeing the deep pass overthrown and incomplete. On that second play, he slows down the receiver within the first five yards and appears to be right with him until he sees the ball is overthrown. Would a perfect pass have been a touchdown, though?

While Burris would seem to match up well with bigger receivers, in his matchup with 6'5" Darren Waller of Georgia Tech in 2014, he gave up a 16-yard first down on a play where he was in good position but Waller was able to go up over him for the catch.

Other than slowing the receiver up with the jam at the line of scrimmage, one of the best skills Burris has is to cut off the receiver's route, using the sideline to his advantage, anticipating to get in front and using his size to maintain his position.

He did that to earn his only interception of last season, just about managing to avoid getting flagged as there was a lot of contact before the receiver slipped over:

Ball skills 

When running downfield with receivers, Burris usually does a good job of getting his head turned around and locating the ball. However, he never managed to come close to matching the pass break-up numbers he put up in his first season. I'm sure that was at least partly due to the fact he was targeted more often as teams went after the freshman back-up corner.

As you can see from the above gif, he made a nice juggling catch and kept his feet inbounds. However, he has dropped a few interceptions over the course of his college career, which is disappointing because he played some receiver in high school. His other interceptions included one he snagged off a deflection, one as he jumped a route to pick off EJ Manuel, and one where he ran stride-for-stride with the receiver on a deep ball, got his head turned early and went up to get it in front of the receiver. All three of those were caught cleanly.

Here he closes well on a short catch and makes a good hit just short of the marker but doesn't manage to make a play on the ball:

Run defense 

Burris is regarded as a good run defender, but since he plays on the outside, he isn't involved in run support that much.

In an interesting example of some of the conflicting scouting reports you can get once you get past the well-known prospects, Nolan Nawrocki states that Burris could serve to be more aggressive in backside run support while PFF says he has a tendency to be over-aggressive and can lose backside contain.

On this play, he comes up in run support displaying willingness to make the stop, although he does get trucked backwards a couple of yards.


Burris is regarded as a good tackler that can lay some big hits in the secondary. He also became more of a secure tackler in 2015, more than halving his missed tackle total to just three.

He still had this bad missed tackle in the game against North Carolina, as well as another bad one against Devon Cajuste in the Shrine Game that led to a 22-yard play:

Burris also had a bad missed tackle in the flat that led to a 40-yard play in the game against FSU in 2014 and then, perhaps still down on himself for that, was slow to react to the receiver breaking to the outside, giving up a 15-yard touchdown two plays later.

He did close well to make a solid open field tackle on this play, forcing a field goal attempt that came up short.


Burris did not do much pass rushing in college, blitzing just 10 times over the past two years and recording one pressure. He had zero sacks in his college career.


While he would sometimes drop deep at the snap, Burris was primarily employed in man coverage, so he was able to concentrate on his role and not worry too much about breakdowns between man and zone defense. With that said, sometimes he would be too preoccupied with his man coverage assignment. That's on display below, where he realized too late that the run was coming his way and found himself blocked out of the play down the field.

Burris does have a tendency to gamble at times, including in the Shrine Game, where he bit on a pump fake into the flat in zone coverage, letting a tight end in behind him for a touchdown.


Burris has been praised for his work ethic and aggressive attitude. He matured over the course of his career and was considered a leader in his senior year. Apparently, he impressed the Jets with his knowledge about their scheme and depth chart when they interviewed him.

On the field, he's constantly battling with his man and often gets involved in chippiness after the whistle. In one game, he was punched in the face, drawing an ejection.

There were also some plays where it seemed like he went through the motions when a play went away from him and then wasn't in position when it ended up breaking back to his side of the field.

Special teams 

Burris didn't contribute much on special teams in college. He did have one special teams penalty last season and saw some action in a vice role. He also saw some duties as a return man in high school.


Burris played in every game over the course of his career and managed to remain injury free.


Burris is an interesting prospect who showed some nice things on film and played with a level of consistency that no doubt enhanced his reputation throughout most of 2015.

It's disconcerting that Burris had some struggles over his last two games of the year. Heading into the last game of the regular season against North Carolina he had posted coverage numbers that were elite compared to the rest of this year's class. He was in first place in terms of yards per coverage snap, the top five for coverage snaps per reception, and QB rating when targeted and the top 10 for overall grade per PFF. Also, as noted earlier, he hadn't given up a 30-yard pass play or a touchdown.

Unfortunately, he had a really poor game against North Carolina, as his team fell behind 35-7 in the first quarter and eventually lost, 45-34. While he had a better game in the Belk Bowl, he still gave up a big pass play and a touchdown, which he'd managed to avoid for so long earlier in the year.

I assume the Jets were encouraged by the consistency of his performances and film from the rest of the season and happy to write the Tar Heels game off as a bad day at the office with any of the mistakes he made being considered either uncharacteristic or fixable. Alternatively, perhaps they learned he was playing hurt or something of that nature.

The Jets obviously really liked Burris to take him a couple of rounds earlier than most expected, but I do wonder whether his skill set would be better suited for him to become more of a role player than a full-time starter. That doesn't mean it is destined to be a bad pick, though. After all, if Burris matches up well with a type of player others on the team are not physical enough to handle, that could make him a valuable piece going forward.

Up next: A look at the Jets' fifth round pick, offensive tackle Brandon Shell from South Carolina. Is he a potential future starter?


Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Christian Hackenberg points to Michigan State Spartans defense during the second half of a game at Spartan Stadium. (Mike Carter/USA Today Sports Images)
Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Christian Hackenberg points to Michigan State Spartans defense during the second half of a game at Spartan Stadium. (Mike Carter/USA Today Sports Images)

... And NEEEWWWWW TJB Annual Draft Picks Projection Contest Champion:


Congratulations to Carl, who was one of three contestants to correctly identify two selections. He won the tiebreaker because he was just one off on his guess for where Cardale Jones would be drafted.

Commiserations go to our runners-up, Pablo Bruno and Dimps5790. who also each named two correct selections. Pablo even correctly stated that Jones would go to the Bills, only to miss the correct pick number by 119 slots.

For the record, a lot of you called the Christian Hackenberg pick, but only five people predicted the Jets would draft Darron Lee, and the same number correctly called the Jordan Jenkins pick. Michael Hunter was the only person to correctly name a Day 3 pick when he included Brandon Shell in his list.

As for the rest of the Day 3 picks ... nobody saw those coming. There were a ton of you that thought the Jets would draft Tom Hackett, but unfortunately undrafted free agents don't count.

Give carlhungus your congratulations in the comments!

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