With seven rounds and seven picks on the books, the Jets completed what was, by all accounts, a home draft class for Joe Douglas. With four starters filling the gaps that existed in that pre-draft roster, the Jets are now turning their attention to a luxury they haven’t had in a while: depth. This is where undrafted free agents come in.
As soon as the seventh round ended, the Jets’ front office took the phones to acquire their favorite undrafted free agents to don the green and white and compete for a deep spot on the training camp roster.
From last year’s rookie class of undrafted free agents, Kenny Yeboah and Isaiah Dunn saw time with the 53-player roster after both received guaranteed money on signing.
So who will make the cut this year? Here are the recruits making up this year’s UDFA class, ranked from most likely to make the roster to least:
1. DQ Thomas, LB, Middle Tennessee State
Thomas joins the Jets after setting the program record for tackles for loss at Middle Tennessee State. An undersized linebacker at 226 pounds, he’s shaping up to be a guy who’ll play off the ball in a role similar to Hamsah Nasirildeen and Jamien Sherwood, both converted safety drafted in Saleh’s defense a year ago. Thomas was also a team captain for the Blue Raiders and ranked third all-time in sacks, showing the versatility to rush the passer, especially in third down situations.
There are two major hurdles for Thomas to make the list. First, he needs to show he has the functional strength to not be sealed off by blocks on the line of scrimmage at his waist. Second, he needs to prove his credentials in coverage. If he can do that, he should earn a spot in a very thin linebacker room. After all, Joe Douglas loves college captains enough to give Thomas $130,000 in guaranteed money.
2. Irvin Charles, WR, Indiana University in Pennsylvania
After last year’s draft, there was legitimate hype about Georgia wide receiver Lawrence Cager making the Jets’ roster as a UDFA. Cager found himself on the practice squad and battled injuries, but it was his athletic profile that got fans excited and hinted at a possible role in the future. Charles hasn’t played in a program with the same pedigree, but his physical tools really stand out. The IUP grad ran a 4.47 for 40-yard sprint at 6-foot-4 weighing 228 pounds, using that combination of size and speed to catch 12 touchdowns in his final college season.
Charles is an older prospect, starting his college football career with Penn State in 2015 before being fired from the program in 2017 due to a violation of team rules. His off-court issues, age and low IUP profile likely kept him out of the draft, but he still has an outside chance to make the roster. Four spots are locked in, with Denzel Mims and Jeff Smith leading for fifth and sixth, but with star camp Charles could possibly usurp one of them.
3. Tony Adams, S, Ill.
Another college team captain, Adams comes to New York after a solid career at Illinois, where he played cornerback and safety for Bret Bielema’s defense. He profiles himself more as an NFL safety, however. Adams is a tall athlete and scrappy defensive back with solid range, ball skills and an ability to make point-of-catch plays thanks to a 41.5-inch vertical leap.
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His shortcomings in deep men coverage were masked somewhat by Illinois having a ball-peddling safety in Kerby Joseph (third-round pick by the Lions), who obliterated everything over the top. Still, if he takes the change of position well, he can compete for a spot in a crowded safe room that doesn’t really stand out beyond Jordan Whitehead.
4. Zonovan Knight, RB, NC State
An expected Day Three pick, Knight was probably the best prospect of the lot here, but he’s a bit lower on this list due to the running room he’s entering. Breece Hall and Michael Carter are really promising young fullbacks, and Tevin Coleman is the veteran in the room who should have his place locked in after his time-limited performance a season ago. Knight is likely in contention for the RB4 spot — should the Jets choose to field four running backs — alongside Ty Johnson and La’Mical Perine.
Talent-wise, Knight has the chops to work his way up an NFL roster. The 5-foot-11, 210-pound NC State fullback has excellent body control in and out of his cuts, and his ability to slip out of tackles while staying on two feet shadows the kind of balance that fans of the Jets saw off Michael Carter a season ago. He was also the picture of consistency, as evidenced by his college numbers:
2019: 136 carries, 745 yards, 5.5 YPC
2020: 143 carries, 788 yards, 5.5 YPC
2021: 140 carries, 753 yards, 5.4 YPC
5. Keshunn Abram, WR, Kent State
Abram joins the Jets after catching 680 yards and three touchdowns a year ago for the Golden Flashes. Although college production is modest, much like Charles, he is an addition to training camp due to his athletic potential. Abram posted a vertical of 37.5 inches with a wide jump of more than 10 feet on his Pro Day, giving the Jets a receiver who can go up and put the ball in traffic in the middle of a group of older guys. small.
There’s not much tape on Abram, who played a season at Northwest Mississippi Community College before transferring to Kent State, where he didn’t see much time as a senior, but being given the wide receiver uncertainty outside of the top four guys, never say never.
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