New York Jets training camp is finally here. Who are some of the players that you should keep your eye on? Here’s the top 10.
Finally, football is back. Well, for the New York Jets, it’s training camp and preseason, but that still counts.
Players report on Thursday, July 26 and less than a month later (Aug. 22 to be specific) is when training camp breaks. But before camp does break, let’s provide important insight into what you should be looking for.
Here are the top 10 sleepers to pay attention to during New York Jets training camp 2018:
10. Trenton Cannon, RB, Virginia State
This selection, at first, seemed a bit strange—especially when you consider the Jets employ Bilal Powell, Isaiah Crowell and Elijah McGuire. But look beyond the position for a second. This kid’s a return specialist.
The Jets haven’t had one of those in years and special teams is 33 percent of the puzzle.
If a squad automatically fails that section of the exam every year, then the best that team can finish is 66 percent and that’s if you get everything else perfect. You now understand why the Jets haven’t been to the postseason since 2010.
9. Antonio Garcia, OT, Troy
Now I know putting offensive linemen on this list isn’t a sexy thing to do, but this is a name to keep an eye out for. It’s always a cautious task in salvaging New England Patriots’ leftovers, but this could be another rare exception.
Antonio Garcia is an immensely talented player who dealt with some blood clot issues which are super serious, but he has been cleared by the Jets medical staff. If New York can be patient with this talented prospect, they could have a secret weapon for the future with his size and potential.
8. David Bass, LB, Missouri Western State
On 1 Jets Drive, it’s all about the Bass.
Okay, let me put that joke back in 2014 where it belongs real quick. In all seriousness, the Jets don’t have a pass rusher on the team that opponents fear. That means that there are ridiculous amounts of pressure on the Jets secondary to overcompensate.
Nobody will ever mistake David Bass for Von Miller, but he still could be of help. In spot duty last season, he reeled in three and a half sacks. If every role player could spit out that production, the Jets pass rushing woes wouldn’t be as dire.
7. Jermaine Kearse, WR, Washington
How is this man on a sleeper list? I mean seriously.
But I’ve talked to people around the league and the respect factor still isn’t there for Jermaine Kearse. That seems hard to believe for a guy that was “thrown into” the Sheldon Richardson deal. That seems even harder to believe when you consider Jermaine had a career year in receptions (65), yards (810) and touchdowns (five) last season.
The thing to pay attention to during Jets training camp is the connection between Kearse and future starting quarterback Sam Darnold. Kearse isn’t a No. 1 wide receiver, but he’s a reliable No. 2 or No. 3 and having that security blanket is huge.
6. Henry Anderson, DL, Stanford
This list is intended to present names that maybe you have to give a discount double check too. This is a guy the Jets traded for during the 2018 NFL Draft. My gut reaction says this is a major win for the Jets.
Anderson is a 3-4 end who was getting forced out of the Indianapolis Colts new 4-3 scheme. So the Jets got him at a bargain and he can be a key rotational piece on the defensive line this season. One of the most interesting training camp battles for me is on that defensive line opposite of Leonard Williams.
5. Brandon Bryant, S, Mississippi State
This name you may not recognize because he’s a fresh face on 1 Jets Drive. The Jets opted not to use a supplemental draft selection on Brandon Bryant and instead waited patiently until he became a free agent and jumped on him like white on rice.
Despite possessing incredible depth at safety, a football team could never have enough good ones. NFL Network Insider Bucky Brooks had this to say, “Bryant has questions surrounding his work ethic, discipline and attention to detail after his on-field (blown coverages) and academic struggles.”
Sometimes you have to risk it, to get the biscuit. If he doesn’t pan out, cut him. If he does, you look like a genius. Boys that’s what I like to call a win-win scenario.
4. Jordan Leggett, TE, Clemson
The things that we heard during the draft I won’t forget. Jordan garnered the nickname “Lazy Leggett” from some teammates at Clemson because he didn’t always give 100 percent. On paper, he’s a Pro Bowl talent, but we all know that it’s more than just what is on paper.
We didn’t get to see Jordan play a lick last year because of a bothersome bum knee. This season he has a lot more competition. Currently, there are four other tight ends on the roster, including another fourth-round draftee also from the ACC in Christopher Herndon. If Jordan wants to make this team, he has his work cut out for him if he wants to start on this team, he has to make an impact.
3. Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama
I really liked Courtney Upshaw coming out of college. His game hasn’t exactly translated at the NFL level. Although, he’s found a way to stay in the league (six years between the Baltimore Ravens and the Atlanta Falcons).
The main problem with his lack of success seems to be all the position shifting.
He was a linebacker in college and exponentially increased his sack production each of his four years at Alabama. Then he was thrown on the defensive line in the pros, then thrown back at linebacker, and struggled bouncing back between the two. He’s got potential and Jets need all of that and some for their insufficient pass rushing department in 2018.
NEXT: Jets Sleepers No. 2 & 1
2. Parry Nickerson, CB, Tulane
When the New York Jets selected Parry Nickerson with the 179th overall pick out of Tulane, Jets fans rejoiced. That’s because most thought that’d be the end of the Buster Skrine experiment.
Not so fast.
While Skrine has an affinity for yellow flags, the Jets won’t be moving on from him this season. Despite all the hoopla, he actually is still a competent player. But Nickerson is a smaller, feisty, ball hawk that the Jets desperately needed. He experienced a ton of production in college so we’ll see how he matches up against NFL caliber talent.
1. Chad Hansen, WR, California
This is the number one name in my head and it’s because everyone has been talking about the development of this kid since the spring. All the hype talk was nice, but let’s get to the meat and potatoes and the only way to do that is by slapping the pads on.
Maybe two California kids in Sam Darnold and Chad Hansen can be the perfect match.
Hansen didn’t get a ton of opportunities last season, but this year has a chance to seize his role, whatever that may end up being.