Lorenzo Mauldin talks about being a Jet on Jets Nation, airing Sunday at 8:30 p.m. on SNY…
As we mentioned yesterday, the guys over at PFF have been running their annual “Secret Superstar” series, where they use data from last year to identify an under-the-radar performer who could star for each team next season. The Jets’ article is now up on their site and features this year’s choice, Demario Davis.
Ryland Norris writes:
While his numbers might still be modest, Davis has steadily improved his game each year he has been in the league. Especially impressive was the way he shored up the weakest aspects of his play … If the Jets were to continue to struggle it may be hard for Davis to get noticed, but he is the type of durable, versatile and consistent player that should get recognition if the team is able to bounce back to the levels they reached during Revis’s first stint. And if Davis can continue his current trajectory, perhaps those days are closer than they seem.
Well done to those of you who correctly predicted this.
To read the full story, click here.
This is a crucial season for both Davis himself and for the Jets in terms of their plans for him. Entering the final year of his rookie deal, Davis could earn himself a lot of money if he takes a step forward this season. To date, it feels like he’s never quite delivered on his promise, although – as PFF note – he had started to improve upon his consistency last year.
In the past, the Jets have typically kept both Davis and his fellow inside linebacker David Harris on the field virtually all the time, but the Jets have better depth at that position this season. Last year, Todd Bowles’ Cardinals did not benefit from the same kind of depth and actually played multiple packages with just one inside linebacker (Larry Foote) on the field and an extra defensive back in the box.
It will be interesting to see if Davis’ role changes, especially in terms of whether the team intends to keep the Harris-Davis partnership together for a few more years or even look for Davis to eventually replace Harris as the man in the headset.
The Jets did an impressive job filling out their top spots on offense and defense during the free agency and draft with additions like Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, Brandon Marshall, James Carpenter, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Leonard Williams and Devin Smith.
But the front office also worked hard to build up the back half of roster through smart free agency retentions, under the radar trades — and of course team competition.
Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.com
With OTAs and minicamps in the books and training camp little more than a month away, here’s four players to watch in July and August at Jets Training Camp in Florham Park who might to prove to have bigger roles than many might first thought.
Rontez Miles (Safety)
It is impossible NOT to root for Rontez Miles. He has had a long and winding path to the NFL, but thanks to his determination, hope and physicality, he’s a player that coaches gravitate towards. Miles is neither huge nor a speed demon, but he is a relentless worker with quick twitch agility and explosion that he knows how to transfer into action on the football field.
After a collision with teammate Marcus Williams in practice, Miles had a serious medical condition that ended his season the week he was about to be called up to the active roster called compartment syndrome. Only thanks to head trainer John Mellody’s knowledge and decisive action did Miles avoid potential amputation. Now back out on the field it sounds as if Miles has not lost a step and stood out during the spring. Miles might be back on the practice squad this year, but we suspect he could get a better shot as a special teamer and package defensive player this season.
Chris Owusu (Wide Receiver)
After playing for Jim Harbaugh at Stanford and leading the Cardinal in receiving during Andrew Luck’s epic 2010 season, Owusu is now three years into his NFL career and already played for four teams. Regardless of the crooked path to New York, Owusu is a physical freak with elite agility, explosion and speed; he ran the second fastest time (4.36) in the 40 yard dash at the 2012 NFL Combine. Check his Eric Weddle-level hops!
Ah, but why did he go undrafted? Unfortunately for Owusu, his history of concussions in college concerned teams. Had he been drafted 2-3 years prior Owusu probably would have been a midround pick. Owusu had a strong finish last season with the Jets. First, with this wild catch against the Vikings and then in the season finale versus the Dolphins. Owusu accounted for 59 yards on the Jets first scoring drive with a touchdown to boot. Later, Owusu had a 87 yard kick return to start the second half. While Mike Maccagnan and Todd Bowles have no history with Owusu, he’s demonstrated enough to be a viable special teams ace and potential fill in for the Jets at the fifth receiver spot.
Wes Saxton (Tight End)
While the season-ending injury to Zach Sudfeld was a shame, an opportunity for undrafted free agent Wes Saxton has opened up. Saxton ran the second-fastest time among tight ends at the NFL Combine.
NFL Media had a great quip about his speed.
Saxton profiles as a pass catcing “move” style tight end with good speed and explosion to attack the seam of opposing defenses. In the lead up to the draft the Jets were similarly interested in TE MyCole Pruitt, a player taken by the Vikings one pick after the Jets original fifth round pick (given to the Bears for Brandon Marshall) and nine picks before their makeup pick from from the Texans (because of the Jaelen Strong trade-back).
So in retrospect, in a year the Jets are doing their best to build up their competition and backups on offense, it should be no surprise that the Jets went hard for the premier UDFA at the position in Saxton after missing on a similarly profiled athletic gem like Pruitt. While Saxton has spent some spring practices sidelined due to injury, he could get a good shot to make the team as a special teamer this summer in training camp against veterans Kellen Davis and blocking tight end Steven Maneri.
With time, Saxton has speed and the receiving skills that could make him a viable NFL tight end in an offense like Chan Gailey’s. But like many of the Jets young additions at the position in the past 1o years, his future will be at the mercy of his ability to compete as a run blocker. Saxton will likely need a year to develop; a full offseason in an NFL training regimen to get bigger and stronger and to work on his blocking technique and route tree seem extremely likely to yield excellent rewards in a year or so … assuming the Jets allow him the roster leeway.
Zac Stacy (Running Back)
In addition to keeping Chris Ivory, the Jets loaded up on running backs this offseason by bringing back Bilal Powell and Darryl Richardson before signing Stevan Ridley and then trading for Zac Stacy during the NFL Draft. While Todd Bowles would not place newcomers Stacy and Ridley into the team’s ordinal depth chart, Stacy has to be the most intriguing darkhorse of the group. In one of the best running back classes in recent memory, why did the Jets chose to move a seventh round pick for a player displaced by both Tre Mason and Todd Gurley in St. Louis?
First, go read Matt Waldman’s clairvoyant scouting conclusions on Stacy. While it is clear that Stacy is a bowling ball type who ends his run with good lean, his technique and style of play could limit his efficiency. Stacy is a talented player, but one who has not been immune to displacement on the depth chart, much like Bilal Powell.
While Ivory has been seeing lots of work this spring as a runner and pass catcher, Chan Gailey prizes running backs who can be effective in both the run and pass. during their Because of Stacy’s physical gifts and solid measured speed and agility he profiles as a player who might wind up as the best pass-catcher of the group and for that reason Rotoviz is intrigued by the opportunity Stacy might get in New York. Antony Amico wrote for Rotoviz that:
I absolutely think that Stacy has a chance to be the Jets’ lead point scorer at RB this season. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him pass Ivory at some point this year for carries due to his ability as a receiver (and Ivory’s lack of ability there). Stacy is the only player on the team with true workhorse history.
Apparently the team might have told the former Ram as much behind closed doors. “Coming into a system that obviously has competition going in but has good opportunities as well,” Stacy told Kristian Dyer two weeks ago. Time will tell, but don’t be surprised if Stacy doesn’t gain some favor in Gailey’s eyes if he can demonstrate solid production as a receiver.
TJB Friday Chat – 2pm ET
Join us at 2:00pm ET for our weekly TJB chat.
In order to access the room, you must now sign up for a chatzy account at chatzy.com – click where it says log in/sign up in the top right hand corner. Obviously if you registered already, you can log into your existing account. You will then be able to access the room at the usual address – Chatzy.com/TJB where this week’s password is startyourengines.
Apologies for this extra requirement, but it will allow us to moderate the chat more effectively and prevent any abuse or vulgarity. The action gets underway at 2:00pm ET.
Over at PFF, they’re into their popular “Secret Superstar” series, where they highlight one player from each team whose contributions went unheralded last season and who could be primed for a bigger role in 2015. The Jets’ selection should be profiled on their site tomorrow. Just for fun, see if you can guess who they’re going to pick.
This year is particularly interesting because there are not many obvious candidates. Will it be someone who graded out well but didn’t play full-time last season (ie Leger Douzable, Jaiquawn Jarrett or IK Enemkpali), someone who already has an important role but whose contributions have been unheralded (ie Demario Davis or Jason Babin) or someone who they are expecting to make strides in 2015 (ie Calvin Pryor, Dee Milliner or Oday Aboushi)?
Over the years, PFF have had mixed results in their Secret Superstar projections and their selections for the Jets reflect this. Last year’s Secret Superstar was Kenrick Ellis, who of course ended up with a reduced role and departed for the Giants at the end of the season. Jeremy Kerley, was the selection in 2013, while in 2012 it was Aaron Maybin (of all people) and the year before that it was Mike DeVito.
As a general rule, you’re probably looking for someone who graded out well on their site but perhaps wasn’t an established well-known starter.
Let’s have your guesses in the comments…
Jeane Coakley speaks with Muhammad Wilkerson about using boxing to stay in shape and his goals for the offseason.