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Pathway to 53-man Roster is Bigger Uphill Battle Than Year’s Past for Jets WR Jeff Smith


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Full disclosure…there’s a good chance I’m a bigger Jeff Smith fan than most.  In three years with the Jets, the undrafted receiver has managed to produce just 26 receptions for 292 yards without a touchdown.  In year’s past, Smith’s path to the 53-man roster didn’t present as many obstacles as the 2022 version, which means Smith has to step up his game.

After drafting Garrett Wilson in the first round of the NFL draft after a season in which Elijah Moore cemented his spot at the top end of the depth chart, wide receiver spots on the roster are dwindling.

Gone are the days of competing with Jaleel Scott and Josh Malone with Jamison Crowder and Braxton Berrios leading the way.  There are now at least four wide receivers locked in to make the roster in Wilson, Moore, Berrios and Corey Davis.  This leaves just a couple of spots for Smith to fight for.  And if the early results in mini camp are any indication, he’s fighting pretty hard.

Better day for Zach Wilson. Completed 7 of 8 in 11 on 11, hitting Jeff Smith three times. Lots of quick game, ball out quickly. Leaping catch by Corey Davis on deep sideline. #Jets

— Rich Cimini (@RichCimini) June 14, 2022

Zach Wilson’s play of the offseason — a (roughly) 50-yard TD to Jeff Smith in 7 on 7. It was a dime. Wilson dropped it in the bucket beautifully. Several teammates celebrated. Major-league throw. #Jets

— Rich Cimini (@RichCimini) June 15, 2022

The converted college QB at Boston College, Smith has blazing speed that he hasn’t been able to take full advantage of due largely to his inexperience and what has been mostly putrid quarterback play since becoming a Jet.

Jets had some opportunities to hit on some big plays with Jeff Smith last year but QB's were just off the mark. pic.twitter.com/8C79sjJ8kc

— Glenn Naughton (@AceFan23) June 13, 2021

Working is Smith advantage?  He has a year in the system so he should have a good grasp of the offense.  Having been a quarterback at BC, he offers the possibility of being a gadget player which is probably something Mike LaFleur is a proponent of.  Smith’s physical profile is also a good fit for what the Jets do on offense as a player who is quick in and out of his breaks and could be a threat after the catch if quarterbacks can finally get him the ball.

Perhaps most impressive about Smith thus far is his overall journey.  Despite not getting on the field as a rookie, he still managed to stick.  That’s not something you see every day.  And having now been with the team for as long as he has, he has managed to impress multiple GM’s and head coaches who all saw the value in retaining Smith.

Now it’s about Smith continuing to fight his way onto a roster that suddenly has infinitely more talent than when he first arrived.

 

 

The post Pathway to 53-man Roster is Bigger Uphill Battle Than Year’s Past for Jets WR Jeff Smith appeared first on JetNation.com (NY Jets Blog & Forum).

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Won't be easy but I hope the dude sticks again.  Love his upside and it was always going to take a while for him to acclimate to the NFL game after moving from QB to WR.  Coming to a team with no QB wasn't going to help matter either.

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51 minutes ago, Augustiniak said:

Actually i think wesco has the hardest shot.  3 TEs brought in all clearly better than him and ruckert is a better blocker already.  

Some tough decisions coming up. In Wesco’s favor are his ability to work out of the backfield and the fact that he’s a primary special teamer. It will come down to whether or not the team opts to carry four TEs. Uzomah and Conklin haven’t really been special teams players, and they’re replacing guys in Brown and Kroft who were mainstays on specials. I’d expect them to have Ruckert doing a lot of special teams work. 
 
I think it comes down to Mims vs. Smith. If Mims moves ahead of Smith, they probably keep six WRs with Smith keeping his gunner job. Now if Smith beats out Mims, it becomes hard to justify keeping a sixth WR who doesn’t play specials. In that case, I can see the sixth WR spot going instead to a fourth TE. Especially if, as I believe, the TEs will be much more involved in the offense this season. Either way, WR and TE will almost certainly be represented on the practice squad. 

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I think the Jets have been pumping up Mims as trade bait this offseason. I just don't think he's a scheme fit and if it comes down to him vs a developmental guy who plays ST and is a scheme fit it's going to difficult to justify keeping Mims over him. Being in great shape doesn't make him a better route runner.

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13 hours ago, #27TheDominator said:

As the board's #1 Jeff Smith fan...

Is it really going to be more of an uphill battle?  He is far from a lock, but I don't think it will be any harder than last year.  Who are the locks this year?  Who were the locks last year?  They added Garrett Wilson, but they let Crowder and Cole walk.  Mims is also not a sure thing this year, but he was last year.  I would flip that with Berrios who won't be on the bubble since he got a contract.  IMO the main thing working against Smith is that his contract will be up and his cheap easily controlled years are ending.   Still, if he is good and plays specials well, he should stick because he is still cheap and would count towards a comp pick if he walks and gets even a moderate contract elsewhere next year.  

FWIW, my liking Smith came primarily from his TD to catch ratio and his athletic numbers.  Figured that was a good development prospect for a guy who was still a QB into college and I think played some RB.   I was countered by those who said he had feet for hands.  It still can't be definitively determined who was right, but he has certainly been worth the investment.

I would add that he was a Maccagnan pickup for Gase.  I figured he would have a tough time impressing the new staff, but he never seemed in any danger.  

Agreed.  As soon as I finished writing that I looked at it and thought I should've written it differently.  The WR room is much improved, but the guys Smith will be competing with are complete unknowns.  They're UDFA types who Smith probably beats out in the end.

Just glad the kid is getting better.  

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Here’s Cimini’s take. 
Smith and Mims make it. Huff could get cut. 
Zerlein wins competition. Jets keep 4 RB with Ty and Coleman and 1 FB. I’d like to keep 3 RB and FB. Hall, Carter, Ty and Bawden. 
 

He has Pinnock being cut to which I say No Way!

https://www.espn.com/nfl/insider/insider/story/_/id/34112654/new-york-jets-53-man-roster-projection-includes-secondary-bolstered-ahmad-sauce-gardner

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33 minutes ago, 32EBoozer said:

Here’s Cimini’s take. 
Smith and Mims make it. Huff could get cut. 
Zerlein wins competition. Jets keep 4 RB with Ty and Coleman and 1 FB. I’d like to keep 3 RB and FB. Hall, Carter, Ty and Bawden. 
 

He has Pinnock being cut to which I say No Way!

https://www.espn.com/nfl/insider/insider/story/_/id/34112654/new-york-jets-53-man-roster-projection-includes-secondary-bolstered-ahmad-sauce-gardner

Paywall on that link. 
 
Looking at Ourlads archived depth chart from 10/01/21, the Jets carried 7 OL, 7 WR, 5 RB, 4 TE, and 2 QBs - which is not what I expected. They won’t carry 7 WRs this year, but they should carry more than 7 OL. Four RBs and a FB would not be too much of a surprise. They gave Zonovan Knight a nice guarantee for a UDFA. 

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1 hour ago, slats said:

Paywall on that link. 
 
Looking at Ourlads archived depth chart from 10/01/21, the Jets carried 7 OL, 7 WR, 5 RB, 4 TE, and 2 QBs - which is not what I expected. They won’t carry 7 WRs this year, but they should carry more than 7 OL. Four RBs and a FB would not be too much of a surprise. They gave Zonovan Knight a nice guarantee for a UDFA. 

I think Knight will be the 4th RB not just because the money but rather the value he brings to ST.  I think they keep him over Ty and Perine.  I worry they will try to get something for nothing though with Ty and Perine somehow (future comp pick gamble - same with Wesco)

I think they will rely on Conklin for the FB role and stash someone on PS in case.

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1 hour ago, slats said:

Paywall on that link. 
 
Looking at Ourlads archived depth chart from 10/01/21, the Jets carried 7 OL, 7 WR, 5 RB, 4 TE, and 2 QBs - which is not what I expected. They won’t carry 7 WRs this year, but they should carry more than 7 OL. Four RBs and a FB would not be too much of a surprise. They gave Zonovan Knight a nice guarantee for a UDFA. 

The Jets will carry 4 running backs.  I can see 6 wide receivers maximum.  4 tight ends and 9 offensive linemen.  3 QB's.  That makes 26.  The total is 53 man roster.  If the Jets carry 25 on defense, then they must have spots for long snapper, punter and field goal kicker.  That makes 54, one over the limit.

So, assuming everyone stays healthy, you're going to lose either 1 OL, 1 WR or 1 QB.

But, someone always gets injured, so, it should all take care of itself.

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I'll be honest up front, I do not have the same obsession with UDFA's many Jets Fans seems to have, and I don't hold Smith in particularly high regard.  He's basically been on the team because we suck, not because he was really any good.

That isn't (or shouldn't be) the case any longer.

Davis/Moore/Wilson/Berrios/Mims is enough WR's.

Conklin/Uzomah/Ruckert at TE at minimum.

Hall/Carter + at least 2 other RB's at minimum IMO.

If I'm looking to improve that group with a developmental type or long shot type player, I'd much rather look at the big, strong, flexible position role guys, like Kenny Yeboah 6'4" 250 (TE) and Lawrence Cager 6'5" 220 (WR/TE) over another mighty-mouse WR like Jeff Smith 6'0" 195.

I don't see alot of upside in Smith, he sorta is what he is at this point, a depth WR and special teamer.  

With Mims (6'3" 207), Yeboah and Cager you have big guys, big targets, and some flexibility as to where they can line up, WR (X), WR (Big Slot), TE, H-Back, etc.  Smith doesn't really bring that, he's more of a slot guy talent wise, and can't really do much else.

At this point, I don't think we're looking at bubble-roster guys as actual starters or contributors, but for the potential and upside (a nice change of pace!).  With that in mind, I look to keep Cager or Yeboah over Smith, unless they really just think injuries will be a huge thing yet again, and we must roster 6 WR's with the idea that all 6 will likely have to play at some point.

JMO and just business, nothing personal against Smith.  He's just not how I'd build this roster in this current era.

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2 hours ago, slats said:

Paywall on that link. 
 
Looking at Ourlads archived depth chart from 10/01/21, the Jets carried 7 OL, 7 WR, 5 RB, 4 TE, and 2 QBs - which is not what I expected. They won’t carry 7 WRs this year, but they should carry more than 7 OL. Four RBs and a FB would not be too much of a surprise. They gave Zonovan Knight a nice guarantee for a UDFA. 

It is always hard to judge the make-up of the team by position.  Many times they carry extra players at certain positions based on who might be dinged up.  Or if they make some late addition that will be an integral part of the team, but isn't ready to contribute right away.  IIRC It's actually how the Jets lost Woodhead.  They had trouble at WR and on specials and brought up Clowney since they were already carrying Greene, Tomlinson, and McKnight.  Having a hybrid guy like Brad Smith can also influence which way they went.  If Becton's health is still sketchy they will be more likely to carry tackles, if guys get dinged, there will be concessions made.

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On 6/22/2022 at 3:28 PM, #27TheDominator said:

As the board's #1 Jeff Smith fan...

Is it really going to be more of an uphill battle?  He is far from a lock, but I don't think it will be any harder than last year.  Who are the locks this year?  Who were the locks last year?  They added Garrett Wilson, but they let Crowder and Cole walk.  Mims is also not a sure thing this year, but he was last year.  I would flip that with Berrios who won't be on the bubble since he got a contract.  IMO the main thing working against Smith is that his contract will be up and his cheap easily controlled years are ending.   Still, if he is good and plays specials well, he should stick because he is still cheap and would count towards a comp pick if he walks and gets even a moderate contract elsewhere next year.  

FWIW, my liking Smith came primarily from his TD to catch ratio and his athletic numbers.  Figured that was a good development prospect for a guy who was still a QB into college and I think played some RB.   I was countered by those who said he had feet for hands.  It still can't be definitively determined who was right, but he has certainly been worth the investment.

I would add that he was a Maccagnan pickup for Gase.  I figured he would have a tough time impressing the new staff, but he never seemed in any danger.  

Yeah my first impression is he's got as much chance as any other point in his career, especially as he finally seems to be showing something and Mims is entering last chance saloon. There was always raw talent but maybe now he's piecing it together. 

He's been a bubble player since he's been here - It's always been an uphill battle but there's growing signs of encouragement that were never really there before. 

As for upside - There's plenty with Smith - His problems have never been physical. 

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1 hour ago, Warfish said:

I'll be honest up front, I do not have the same obsession with UDFA's many Jets Fans seems to have, and I don't hold Smith in particularly high regard.  He's basically been on the team because we suck, not because he was really any good.

That isn't (or shouldn't be) the case any longer.

Davis/Moore/Wilson/Berrios/Mims is enough WR's.

Conklin/Uzomah/Ruckert at TE at minimum.

Hall/Carter + at least 2 other RB's at minimum IMO.

If I'm looking to improve that group with a developmental type or long shot type player, I'd much rather look at the big, strong, flexible position role guys, like Kenny Yeboah 6'4" 250 (TE) and Lawrence Cager 6'5" 220 (WR/TE) over another mighty-mouse WR like Jeff Smith 6'0" 195.

I don't see alot of upside in Smith, he sorta is what he is at this point, a depth WR and special teamer.  

With Mims (6'3" 207), Yeboah and Cager you have big guys, big targets, and some flexibility as to where they can line up, WR (X), WR (Big Slot), TE, H-Back, etc.  Smith doesn't really bring that, he's more of a slot guy talent wise, and can't really do much else.

At this point, I don't think we're looking at bubble-roster guys as actual starters or contributors, but for the potential and upside (a nice change of pace!).  With that in mind, I look to keep Cager or Yeboah over Smith, unless they really just think injuries will be a huge thing yet again, and we must roster 6 WR's with the idea that all 6 will likely have to play at some point.

JMO and just business, nothing personal against Smith.  He's just not how I'd build this roster in this current era.

Seems like a strange theory to me.  You think Yeboah gives you more flexibility than Smith?  I think Smith played QB, RB and WR in college.  He had 900 yards rushing @ 6.6 ypc and 9 TDs playing an ACC schedule, though I am not sure how many carries came as QB.  Yeboah is basically TE only and not a good blocking one at that.  Cager is a big possession receiver with teeny tiny hands.  His speed is questionable and he is switching to TE because he failed at WR.  For some reason you are pigeon-holing Smith as a slot despite the fact that he has played outside WR here for 3 seasons.  I am also not sure why you are acting like he is a smurf.  He is bigger than Garrett Wilson. 

They are all developmental prospects, but Smith stuck over both last season with the same coaching staff and over Cager in 2020.  I honestly think it will be more likely that he is beat out by Calvin Jackson or Irvin Charles.  Guys with more cheap years left in them that are more likely to be bigger contributors on specials.

 

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40 minutes ago, #27TheDominator said:

Seems like a strange theory to me.  You think Yeboah gives you more flexibility than Smith?  I think Smith played QB, RB and WR in college.  He had 900 yards rushing @ 6.6 ypc and 9 TDs playing an ACC schedule, though I am not sure how many carries came as QB.  Yeboah is basically TE only and not a good blocking one at that.  Cager is a big possession receiver with teeny tiny hands.  His speed is questionable and he is switching to TE because he failed at WR.  For some reason you are pigeon-holing Smith as a slot despite the fact that he has played outside WR here for 3 seasons.  I am also not sure why you are acting like he is a smurf.  He is bigger than Garrett Wilson. 

They are all developmental prospects, but Smith stuck over both last season with the same coaching staff and over Cager in 2020.  I honestly think it will be more likely that he is beat out by Calvin Jackson or Irvin Charles.  Guys with more cheap years left in them that are more likely to be bigger contributors on specials.

Aye, it's way early still to think anything definitive, I agree. 

Would want to see how camp and preseason play out.  Maybe Mims is still a bust, for example, and that spot opens up.

But yes, given the roster as it stands now, my own preference is bigger, stronger, WR/TE/H-Back type talents for the roster-depth slots.  

I don't see Smith ever being more than what he is, a deep depth WR who plays specials.

Both Cager and Yeboah, while clearly developmental talents, have the potential to be important TE/H-Back pieces down the road if they work hard.  You can't teach size, and the NFL is all about big, strong TE's these days.  

I can respect if you see things differently.  I just don't see what he brings that any other UDFA-type WR talent couldn't also bring.

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Honestly, in a weird way I would rather he does not make it...simply because that means 1. Mims has turned things around and earned a spot and/or 2. Cager has come out of nowhere to show he is a force as a WR (because no way he makes it as a TE with our current depth). I think both Cager and Mims have more upside and I would rather see them work out for this team than Smith. I also like the size they bring. 

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