Breaking down the New York Jets UDFA: Who can make the squad?
ESNY Graphic, AP Photo
An in-depth look at all 16 UDFAs of the New York Jets UDFA signings, with an eye on who could possibly break camp with the team.
It’s not often that undrafted free agents break camp with an NFL team. In Mike Maccagnan’s entire tenure with the New York Jets, only two UDFAs accomplished the feat (both of them in 2016 and both receivers). They were Robby Anderson and Jalin Marshall.
Anderson has since become one of the best deep threats in the NFL and the team’s No. 1 receiver. Marshall, however, lasted only one year in the NFL and spent most of his time as a failed returner.
With this year’s crop of UDFAs, it’s important to note that Maccagnan was the one who signed these guys, and no longer works for the team. It’ll be interesting to see how newly-hired general manager Joe Douglas deals with these UDFAs since he has no connection to them.
Justin Alexandre, Edge, Incarnate Word
Justin Alexandre is not likely to make the team nor the practice squad. Alexandre measured 6-foot-5, 267 pounds at his pro day, making him too big to play outside linebacker in a 3-4 but too small to play defensive end in a 4-3.
He also didn’t display the athleticism that could make up for his tweener status. He only ran a 4.94 and his agility numbers were below average. Alexandre does have two traits that work for him though: his length and his strength.
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Alexandre’s best move in school was his bull rush, he was often too much for D-II tackles to handle. A big part of that is his great length. Alexandre carries a wingspan measuring about 84 inches. Statistically, Alexandre only had six sacks and 8.5 TFL this past season.
Alexandre is likely nothing more than a camp body to help young offensive linemen learn how to deal with length.
Jeff Allison, ILB, Fresno State
Jeff Allison has an interesting case for making the roster. He had been named to the All-Mountain West First-team in back-to-back years. He was also named the Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year in 2018.
Allison measured in at 5-foot-11, 225 pounds at his pro day, making him undersized for the position at the NFL. He’s also not a good athlete as he tested poorly in all of his agility drills. Allison ultimately ran a 4.82 40-yard dash.
That being said, he always has his nose on the ball and has a high motor. Last year, Allison had 132 tackles, which put him at No. 13 in the nation. The issue is that he only had 5.5 TFL and .5 sacks. That shows that Allison was flying around the field making tackles, but rarely made impact plays behind the line of scrimmage.
Allison’s abilities in coverage are limited as well due to his lack of athleticism. However, he put up good numbers in those regards at Fresno State, allowing only one touchdown last year and intercepting a pass. With the team already investing in C.J. Mosley, Avery Williamson, Blake Cashman, and Neville Hewitt, there isn’t much room for Allison. He’s a possible fit for the practice squad.
John Battle III, S, LSU
There isn’t much to talk about here. One of Joe Douglas’ first moves was to cut John Battle III. In an attempt to bring in competition at cornerback, Douglas signed Mark Myers. This made Battle the casualty. Nobody’s picked him up yet, so his NFL dreams are already on life support.
Kyron Brown, CB, Akron
Kyron Brown has a very real chance to break camp with the team. Brown has already climbed up the ladder, joining the second team in practice.
He has already intercepted Davis Webb and Trevor Siemian in practices and has been one of the reported standouts of OTAs and minicamp. Brown measured at 6-foot-1 inch and 195 pounds at his pro day, which is good size for a cornerback. His issue is that he ran a 4.55 40-yard dash, which is slow but not damning. For instance, Richard Sherman ran a 4.56 at the combine. It’s certainly not ideal that Brown has below-average speed, but that doesn’t define him.
Brown looks best in press-man coverage where he can use his long arms and his toughness to beat wide receivers. He’s also a decent ball hawk with 19 passes defended including six interceptions in the last three years.
Brown went up against three receivers that were drafted this year. The first was Hakeem Butler, who was held to only six catches for 88 yards, though he did have a touchdown. He struggled against Bowling Green’s Scott Miller, who had six catches for 100 yards and no touchdowns. Most impressive though was holding Deebo Samuel to only four catches for 33 yards at the University of South Carolina. Both touchdowns Deebo had in that game came when Brown wasn’t covering him. Brown could be the hidden gem in this UDFA class that saves the Jets secondary.
Greg Dortch, WR, Wake Forest
Greg Dortch also has a very real chance to break camp with the team. Like Brown, Dortch is practicing with the second team. He’s also one of three players fighting for the return man job along with Quadree Henderson and JJ Jones.
Dortch is small, measuring at 5-foot-7, 173 pounds at the combine. Dortch did not participate in drills at the combine as he was dealing with a wrist injury. Due to his injury, Dortch was unable to prepare for his athletic drills the same way many of the players at the combine had. Still, Dortch ran a respectable 4.46 40 yard dash and was above average in agility drills.
On tape, Dortch’s speed and elusiveness are evident, as can be seen from his 11 yards-per-punt return this past season. Dortch put up 89 receptions for 1,078 yards receiving and eight touchdowns.
Dortch faced tough competition in the ACC and played against three cornerbacks who were drafted this year. He faced Donnie Lewis Jr.from Tulane, and Dortch torched him. He put up 12 receptions for 149 yards, though he didn’t score.
Dortch also went up against newly-drafted New York Giants cornerback Julian Love. He struggled to find his rhythm in that game, only putting up six receptions for 56 yards.
Lastly, Dortch played Clemson and Trayvon Mullen Jr., he was once again shut down. In that game, Dortch had three receptions for 37 yards and failed to score. While Dortch didn’t perform well against Mullen and Love, he was still a factor as he was his team’s leading receiver in both of those games.
Dortch’s special teams ability is what gives him a chance to make the roster, but don’t be surprised if he makes an impact as Jamison Crowder‘s backup.
Fred Jones, DT, Florida State
Fred Jones is the nephew of long-time Jets inside linebacker Marvin Jones. He measures in at 6-foot-2, 304 pounds, with below-average athletic traits. His one saving grace is his strength, which is above average but nothing special. Jones was a fifth-year senior at FSU and put up pedestrian numbers with eight TFL and 2.5 sacks.
At best, Jones could be a run-stuffing defensive tackle in the form of someone like Damon Harrison. However, he doesn’t find his way into the backfield enough for coaches to trust that he could ever be that guy.
There’s also the fact that the Jets are currently stacked at the defensive tackle position with Leonard Williams, Quinnen Williams, Steve McLendon, Nathan Shepherd and Folorunso Fatukasi. There doesn’t seem to be a place for Jones on the active roster, but he’s a possible fit for the practice squad.
Tyler Jones, OL, North Carolina State
Tyler Jones’ versatility is exactly what teams look for in UDFAs. He played both tackle positions and was the emergency center at NC State, while The Jets list him at guard. Jones’ ability to play anywhere on the line is impressive, but won’t be enough for him to break camp with the team.
Jones lacks the size and strength necessary to be an NFL lineman right now. His arms are too short for him to play tackle, which is why the Jets are kicking him inside. The issue is that his 23 bench reps at the combine are well below-average for an interior lineman. Jones has the athleticism and technique to be a backup, so there’s reason to be hopeful.
Jones is likely a candidate for the practice squad. With a year of seasoning, it’s possible he could step up and take over for Dakota Dozier or Brent Qvale.
Toa Lobendahn, C, USC
Like Jones, Toa Lobendahn’s selling point is his versatility. At USC, Lobendahn played every position other than right tackle. He finished his career at center, where he struggled. Lobendahn’s earned Freshman All-American honors for his play at left tackle to begin his career. He followed that up with a knee injury in his sophomore year. That injury forced Lobendahn to kick inside to guard.
He earned a second-team All-Pac 12 nod for his play in 2017, but he’s struggled the last two years. Due to his poor play this past season, Lobendahn had to kick inside further to the center position.
The potential is still there for Lobendahn to be the guy he was his freshman year, but has had issues in pass protection. This team is desperate for a center so Lobendahn will get a shot, but he’s likely here fighting for a practice squad spot.
Wyatt Miller, OT, UCF
Wyatt Miller was a three-year starter at the University of Central Florida, playing both tackle spots.
This past season Miller played his best season, which he spent at left tackle. He earned second-team All-AAC honors for his play. Miller is a better pass blocker than run blocker, and he has the size and strength to stay at that position.
His big issue is his lack of athleticism, which will likely limit him to playing the right tackle position. His lack of experience on the interior line doesn’t bode well for him when he stacks up against Lobendahn and Jones, but he’s the only one of those guys who could reliably stay at the tackle position long-term.
Miller was injury-free during his time at UCF and was as dependable as anyone could ask. Miller could fight for a practice squad spot if the team believes that he’ll eventually be able to make up for his lack of athleticism with his technique.
Jalin Moore, RB, Appalachian State
Jalin Moore was a play-maker at Appalachian State. He was the Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year in 2016 and earned first-team All-Sun Belt honors in both 2016 and 2017. Moore led the conference in rushing in each of those seasons with a combined 2,439 yards rushing.
Moore is a downhill power runner, as he loves contact. The Jets don’t currently have a running back like Moore on the roster. They have collected a number of elusive pass catchers at the position, but lack a short-yardage power back like Moore.
The issue is that Moore is coming off of a horrific ankle injury that sidelined him almost all of last season. If Moore can show that he’s healthy, then he has a shot at challenging Elijah McGuire and Trenton Cannon for a roster spot. If not, the Jets can stash him on the practice squad and reevaluate him next offseason.
Jamey Mosley, ILB, Alabama
Jamey Mosley is the younger brother of newly-acquired linebacker C.J. Mosley. That’s all there really is to say about Jamey.
He was a back up at Alabama and didn’t see much of the field. He wasn’t very effective in coverage and didn’t fare much better against the run. Mosley lacks athleticism and doesn’t have the football IQ to make up for it.
There isn’t any reason to believe Mosley has any chance of making the practice squad. Especially when he’s competing with a guy like Jeff Allison if they do want to carry an inside linebacker on the practice squad.
Kyle Phillips, Edge, Tennessee
Kyle Phillips is a very strange prospect at the edge rusher position.
At the combine, he measured at 6-foot-4, 277 pounds, which is what you would expect from a 4-3 edge rusher. He also tested well athletically, running a 4.65 40-yard dash and testing above-average in agility drills. He was a team captain this past year and won the Bill Majors award for being the player most dedicated to football on the team. Therefore, the effort is there.
He also displayed decent pass-rushing technique while at school, but it never resulted in sacks. He only had four sacks last year, a career-high. He also had a career-high 7.5 TFL last year, so he wasn’t getting into the backfield like you would want from an edge rusher.
That being said, he was very good against the pass. He used his hands extremely well as he defended four passes and even intercepted one. The pass he intercepted was thrown by Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and was taken back for a touchdown.
He reminds me a lot of Kony Ealy when he was with the Jets. A guy who seems to have everything he needs to be a starter and has the drive to do it, but just can’t put it all together.
I don’t expect Phillips to break camp with the team, but he’s certainly an interesting developmental edge rush prospect for the practice squad.
Santos Ramirez, S, Arkansas
If the Jets weren’t stacked at safety, Santos Ramirez would have a legitimate chance to make the roster. Unfortunately for him, the Jets already have five safeties.
In 2017, Ramirez was one of only three safeties to have 60+ tackles, eight passes defended, and one interception.
His biggest issue is his lack of athleticism. He ran a 4.62 40-yard dash at his pro day and his agility drills were subpar. At the University of Arkansas, Ramirez showed that he has ball skills and is a heavy hitter, forcing five fumbles in the last three years.
Had Ramirez come out after his impressive 2017 season, he might have been a day-three pick. Instead, he returned for school his senior year and had an awful year.
Ramirez is a bet on a potential rebound, and if it pays off, then the Jets would be able to replace Rontez Miles in the near future.
Trevon Sanders, NT, Troy
Trevon Sanders is a big kid, measuring at 6-foot, 327 pounds. As is to be expected, Sanders doesn’t have much athleticism at his size. He ran a 5.21 40-yard dash at his pro day. None of his other drills were any better.
He also struggled to stay on the field, playing in 40 games in four years at Troy University. When he was on the field, he plugged up the middle of the defense well enough.
This past season, Sanders was named first-team All-Sun Belt. Sanders had 30 tackles, 7.5 for loss, and two sacks. If the Jets are looking for a guy to stuff up the middle against the run and do little elsewhere, then Sanders is as good a bet as any to be that guy. If he can stay healthy, then he has a shot at making the practice squad.
Jeff Smith, WR, Boston College
Jeff Smith is the definition of a gadget player. He had 1,078 receiving yards and 902 rushing yards in his career at Boston College. He excels with the ball in his hand and is just one move away from a big play.
Smith is blazing fast, running a 4.34 40-yard dash at the combine. The issue is that he’s raw in just about every way, which isn’t a surprise. Smith was a quarterback his freshman year at BC and moved over to wide receiver his sophomore year. This is the type of player who benefits the most from the practice squad.
That being said, Smith has a real chance to make the roster because the only other player on the team with that kind of speed is Robby Anderson, and Smith does things that Robby can’t. For instance, he can run a jet sweep and take screens for big gains. It would make sense for the Jets to carry Smith as a sixth receiver to take wildcat snaps and just be an overall nuisance for other teams, even if he only touches the ball once a game.
Myquon Stout, NT, Appalachian State
Myquon Stout is an undersized nose tackle at 6-foot-1, 280 pounds. That doesn’t mean he can’t play the position, however. The Jets happen to have a nose tackle that plays at that size in Steve McClendon.
Like McClendon, Stout is known for his leadership ability, as he was named a team captain in his final two seasons at Appalachian state. Stout was named first-team All-Sun Belt this past season after captaining App State to becoming the fourth-best scoring defense in the nation. All of that is great, but as a player, there’s a lot left to be desired.
He isn’t very athletic despite his size, and his on-field production is lacking. Last season, he only tallied 21 tackles, 1.5 TFL and didn’t record one sack. Good leaders are always great to have in camp, but Stout doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who’s going to stay around long.