With the Jets having their final 53-man roster complete, and only needing to add two more practice squad players, as they prepare to take on the Celevland Browns in the 2015 season opener it seems now is as good a time as any to go through the roster with a fine tooth comb and examine the strengths and weakness of said roster.
Let's get right to it. Below we will list the roster, by position and will give grades for each roster with full explanantions for the grades.
GRADE - C
Fitzpatrick is a C quarterback, that's just what he is. He can sometimes play like a B/B- quarterback but balances that out by sometimes playing like a D quarterback. I know many Jets fans seem to think that somehow Fitzpatrick will magically (hence the silly #FitzMagic stuff you might have seen on Twitter) turn into a much better quarterback than his career has shown him to be, but that's not generally how the NFL works.
Smith is a C quarterback for me as well, I know many fans will wonder how I could say that but he has shown enough ability for me to think he can be better than a C quarterback he just hasn't shown it consistently and unlike Fitzpatrick he is still young and could very well take a huge step in his development mentally. From a physical stand point Smith is much better than a C quarterback, he has the arm and can make all the throws, he just needs to fix the mental mistakes and he seemed to make progress in that area during training camp.
The Jets don't plan on playing Petty at all this year, he certainly has the physical ability to one day develop into more than an average quarterback but he has even more work to do when it comes to reading defenses than Smith did his rookie year. If Petty had to start this year he would probably be a D.
GRADE - B+
You could make a solid argument for this group getting an A but I'm going to stick with a B+. Ivory isn't thought of as one of the elite backs in the league but he's not far off and closer to an elite back than fans of other teams realize. Ivory is known as a big, powerful runner who is tough to tackle but he's much quicker and shiftier than given credit for. According to Profootballfocus.com Ivory "managed to force 52 tackles on 198 rushing attempts. Only Marshawn Lynch, DeMarco Murray and Le'Veon Bell forced more missed tackles and they all had at least 88 more carries than Ivory." On top of all of this Ivory has shown great strides in his catching ability and if his hands continue to show improvement you can expect him to be used in the passing game more this season. Ivory won't average 20-25 touches a game but I'd expect him to get the most touches of the group and by a wide margin.
Powell will be the third-down back for most situations, as he's the best pass protector and receiver of the group. He also offers a running style the other backs don't have. Powell is a one-cut back but he isn't the power, downhill runner that Ivory, Stacy and even Ridley are. Stacy showed a lot of promise during his rookie year in St. Louis before having a disappointing '14 campaign but everything we saw from him this offseason makes it look like he's back to his '13 form. If anything happens to Ivory or Powell Stacy is more than capable of filling in for them and as he has shown this preseason he can be a threat in the screen game as well. As a third back you can do a lot worse, but not much better, than Stacy. This group is deep.
FB - Tommy Bohanon
GRADE - C
Bohanon has shown some improvements in his all-around game but he's still just an average fullback. We'll see how much Chan Gailey utilizes his fullback but Bohanon can certainly contribute some you just shouldn't expect him to be anything more than adequate.
GRADE - A
This group gets an easy A. No doubt about it. A Marshall and Decker combo is right up there among the best receiving duos in the league and their presence should help the Jets C graded quarterbacks be able to play better than their grades. Whether it's Kerley, Owusu, Enunwa or Devin Smith as the third receiver there are so many different plats Gailey can design to take advantage of defenses. When Smith returns he gives the Jets the true deep-threat that they need to stretch the field and create more room for Marshall and Decker to operate underneath and if Smith, Enunwa or Owusu are the third receiver you can expect to see either Marshall or Decker in the slot a bunch to take advantage of their height and physicality, especially in short yardage/red zone situations.
GRADE - D
The worst grade on the team by far and honestly it's a generous grade. Everyone, myself included, assumed the Jets would add a tight end off of waivers but they did not. The lack of a move at the position led to a lot of head-scratching from the media but it's pretty clear why they choose not to. For one, clearly they didn't like the available options enough. They also feel like they can get by with only two true tight ends considering Gailey offenses often shy away from relying on tight ends and they coaching staff feels they can use Enunwa in the H-back role and also line him up in the slot to do some blocking in the run game. As Bowles said a week ago, Enunwa in the slot presents matchup problems for defenses because if they stick a corner on him they can run in that direction and Enunwa will be able to block the corner effectively and Enunwa will be too fast for a linebacker to stick with him in coverage.
GRADE - B-
This grade is actually a little generous, I feel like it should maybe be a C/C+ because of the lack of depth. I mean there's a lot of depth here as they kept 10, 11 if you were to count Aboushi, but not very good depth. In fact the reason why they kept so many lineman has a lot to do with the coaching staff not being sure who they can rely on. The starting unit deserves to get a B though and I figured I'd only knock the unit down to a B- for the lack of quality depth. The starting unit will likely be an A unit in the running game and Ivory and the other backs will enjoy running behind this line but they have exceeded my expectations in pass protection. I was consered about their ability to protect the quarterbacks and those concerns haven't been completely aleviated but they have certainly looked better than I thought they would.
GRADE - A
There's two reasons this group didn't get an A+; the suspension to Richardson and not knowing how long it will take Williams to turn into the stud that he will eventually become. If Williams comes on strong and Richardson comes back after only four games and picks up right where he left off last year there's no doubt this group will deserve an A+ grade.
GRADE - B
Just looking at the starting unit this group probably deserves a C+. Harris and Davis are still great against the run game and can be really good pass rushers as well but they continue to show their lack of coverage ability. Opposing offenses will look at this defense and determine the soft spot of just over the top of the linebackers and underneath the safeties will be where they want to attack. It'll be up to Todd Bowles to scheme up ways to deal with this. But I gave the unit a B because of the depth, I expect Mauldin to be used in Pace's spot a lot in passing situations and that should continue to happen more as the season goes on and the same goes for Reilly. Henderson can pick up slack for Davis or Harris if needed and Lattimore showed that he has the most coverage potential of the linebacking group so you can expect to see a lot of him in passing situations.
GRADE - A+
This one doesn't need much explanation. First of all the group is led by Revis, I could stop right there. There are valid concerns about Cromartie but what he's lost in athletic ability, between getting older and injuries, he has made up for in film study as he showed in the third preseason game when he intercepted Eli Manning. Cromartie got beat a ton in camp but it's camp I wouldn't read too much into that and even if he does struggle Bowles won't hesitate to sit him down and he has options. Skrine will likely stay as the nickel corner, and as a nickel corner he could be one of if not the best in the league, but they could move him outside or Bowles could go with Williams or McDougle. Walls is also a possibility but my guess is he is last in line. This group is top heavy but also incredibly deep and top-to-bottom you'd be hard pressed to find a better group of corners in the league.
GRADE - B-
Honestly this grade is helped out by the defensive line and the corners. It's also assuming Pryor takes a big step in his play in year two and Gilchrist can be a steadying influence on the group. Everyone you talk to about Gilchrist raves about his intelligence and his work in the film room and they all have confidence he can get everyone in their proper spots and he will always find his way be to around the ball. Still the soft spot of the defense will be passing in the middle of the field just in front of the safeties and they'll have to find a way to make sure opposing offense can't just attack that spot over and over again. But in the run game this group will do a great job stepping up and filling in the rushing lanes.
K - Nick Folk
GRADE - A
Rex Ryan is gone but Nick Folk will always be the 'Folk Hero.'
P - Ryan Quigley
GRADE - C-
Fans are, understandably, concerned about Quigley's tendancy to shank punts but the Jets do love his directional punting ability. He needs to be more consistent but if he continues to shank punts as much as he has in the past the C- grade will seem awfully generous.
LS - Tanner Purdum
GRADE - A
He's a long-snapper, not much to evaluate here. I can't remember many botched long-snaps from him so he gets an A.
Chris Nimbley is the Editor-in-Chief and lead writer of JetsInsider.com. He can be reached on Twitter (@cnimbley) or via email (firstname.lastname@example.org)