QB Ratliff Among Offensive FAs


Brent Ratliff scrambling for the Utes

The phone lines were still active at Weeb Ewbank Hall when the NFL Draft finally reached its conclusion. After the selection of four players on draft weekend, the Jets scouting staff signed an additional 14 rookie free agents who will also compete at the rookie minicamp that runs from Saturday through Monday.

Here is a closer look at the offensive crop of the undrafted free agents:

Brett Ratliff, as Utah's starting QB, compiled a 10-5 record and threw for 2,796 yards and 23 touchdowns last season. The 6'4", 224-pound native of Chico, Calif., has a running dimension as evidenced by his 260 yards on the ground. In 15 career starts, Ratliff completed 59 percent of his passes and carried an almost 3-to-1 TD-to-INT ratio (31-11).

If you break out a Virginia Tech tape from last season, you might notice an old-school blocking fullback. Jesse Allen, a 6'0", 252-pound former walk-on who earned a scholarship in 2004, started six games last season and played in 35 games during his collegiate career. As a Hokies senior, he had 15 offensive touches, including two receiving touchdowns.

"The Jets were definitely the team I wanted," Allen, a Springfield, Mass., native, told the Springfield Republican. "It gives me a chance to stay in the Northeast."

Staying in the offensive backfield, the Green & White signed a pair of running backs in Kyle Steffes of North Dakota State and Alvin Banks of James Madison.

Steffes (5'11", 204) became the first NDSU player to rush for 1,000 yards three times and is the school's second all-time leading rusher with 3,953 yards. He was a dual threat, catching 23 passes last season.

Despite being slowed by injuries at various points, Banks (5'11", 226) ran for 2,694 yards (4.9 average) and 28 touchdowns and averaged 83.7 all-purpose yards per game. Interestingly, NFLDraftScout.com compared Banks to a familiar Jets name:

"Like [Curtis] Martin, Banks is a power-oriented runner who gets better acceleration lining up deep in the backfield rather than shallow. Both have proven to be effective receivers on swing and screen passes."

Colorado State wide receiver Dustin Osborn, another former walk-on who earned a scholarship, was a big-play threat last year in averaging 15.3 yards per reception for the Rams.

Three linemen round out the offensive rookie free agent class.

San Diego State guard Nick Smith (6'4", 314) and Western Michigan guard Dominic Moran (6'4", 300) will attempt to make their marks in the NFL trenches. Moran was a senior co-captain and an academic stud, posting a 4.0 GPA last fall.

"It seemed like a good fit,'' Moran said of the Jets in the Kalamazoo Gazette. "From what I've heard, I like the way they run things over there.''

Andrew Wicker (6'5", 295) of Mississippi is a versatile performer, having played all five line positions with the Rebels. The team captain was named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll in 2003-04. Wicker received the 2006 J. Richard Price Courage and Compassion Award as the rising senior lineman who, in the opinion of his coaches, has demonstrated extraordinary courage and unusual compassion in his dedication to the team and to Ole Miss.

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