Throughout the offseason, NewYorkJets.com reporters Eric Allen, Ethan Greenberg and Randy Lange will each give their predictions to a series of questions regarding this year's Jets.
Today's question: Which roster battle is most intriguing heading into Jets-Eagles Preseason Finale?
EA: The Jets' positions with the most depth are defensive tackle, running back and tight end. Quinnen Williams leads that interior defensive group, the team likes all its running backs and tight ends, a group that doesn't have a big name, has multiple players with different physical skill sets. The landscape at defensive end has turned dramatically. In the last week, explosive pass-rusher Carl Lawson went down with an Achilles tendon injury and veteran DE Vinny Curry, who would have been a rotational player and an important presence in the locker room, announced that a rare blood disorder that will force him to miss the 2021 season. Kyle Phillips (ankle, Active/PUP) remains on the sideline, and Jabari Zuniga (knee) and Ronnie Blair (hamstring) have not been practicing. As far as the roster battles are concerned, it's hard to nail down one. With another good performance against the Eagles, Matt Ammendola (3 of 3 on field-goal attempts in Green Bay, including a 54-yarder) figures to have a great chance to be the opening day placekicker. Ammendola is the only kicker on the roster, but his battle is against whomever springs free next week. The receiver numbers jump out because Corey Davis, Elijah Moore and Jamison Crowder are the top three. But how many will the Jets keep? Denzel Mims flashed big-play potential as a rookie while Keelan Cole, Braxton Berrios and Vyncint Smith provide value on special teams. Jeff Smith is right there in the mix as well. Morgan Moses and George Fant both figure to start Friday because Mekhi Becton is in the concussion protocol, but who will be the RT in Carolina on Sept. 12? The cornerback competition is ongoing. The Jets have to get down to 53 players on Tuesday and they'll have 16 practice squad spots to fill. But before the PS is filled, I do expect the Jets to be active in waiver claims. That initial 53 will look different later next week.
EG: There are a lot of different cases to be made, but I'm going with cornerbacks. The youth of this team, particularly at CB, is no secret. Drafted rookies Brandin Echols, Jason Pinnock and Michael Carter II have all flashed at times throughout camp and the preseason, but can any of them stake a claim to a starting job? MCII has been playing in the nickel along with second-year player Javelin Guidry and Elijah Campbell. Echols has shown a knack to get his hands on the ball and came away with a deft interception against the Packers last Saturday at Lambeau Field. Head coach Robert Saleh said that the starters will play no more than a half against the Eagles on Friday night, but how long will the rookies play? Bryce Hall and Bless Austin both took 11 snaps against the Giants in the first preseason game. Austin, didn't play against the Packers for personal reasons while Hall took 32 snaps. The rep distribution against the Eagles will be something I'll be watching. Honorable mentions include linebackers, defensive line (in terms of depth) and kicker. Even though K Matt Ammendola is the only one on the roster -- he made all three of his field-goal attempts in Green Bay including a 54-yarder, and both extra points -- the Jets could look to add a kicker when the rosters are trimmed from 80 to 53 on Tuesday.
RL: I'm looking at CBs and TEs. CBs because as Robert Saleh said last week, "there's a couple of guys that are starting to separate." Are they the starters this preseason, Bless Austin and Bryce Hall on the outside and Javelin Guidry at nickel? Or are any of the rookies making moves for more PT? Brandin Echols, Jason Pinnock, Michael Carter II and Isaiah Dunn all have shown skills. Also, Lamar Jackson and Elijah Campbell have experience with the Jets. Then at TE, Tyler Kroft's emergence as a Zach Wilson go-to guy at Green Bay could shake up the position. Four other veterans, all with Jets experience, are also in the room — Chris Herndon, Ryan Griffin, Trevon Wesco and Daniel Brown — and rookie Kenny Yeboah had a TD catch in the Green & White Practice. Can the Jets keep six TEs? No. Five? No. Maybe not even four. So the final PS game vs. the Eagles will have a lot to say about those two positions, plus many more.