Just because the 2012 NFL draft is over doesn’t mean there are no more potential players left to fill the roster. The Jets have signed 10 undrafted free agents and invited another 23 to participate in their rookie camp. The following is an analysis of five players to watch, who not only could make the roster, but contribute this year and beyond:
Brian Linthicum – Tight End (Michigan State): Known more for his blocking Linthicum (6’5″, 245 pounds) has never truly lived up to his potential. Originally playing for Clemson in 2007 he later transferred and started with the Spartans in 2009. Last season Linthicum caught 31 passes for 364 yards with a career reception total of 69 for 860 yards, a 12.4 yard per catch average with Michigan State.
Tight end Dustin Keller is a free agent in 2013 and currently in contract extension talks, while second string Jeff Cumberland is still recovering from a season ending Achilles injury, blocking specialist Matthew Mulligan was acquired by the Rams and Josh Baker is more of an h-back/fullback, the Jets could use some depth at this position. Linthicum’s blocking abilities alone should be appealing but if he could develop better receiving skills there’s a chance he’d have a long term role on the team.
Donnie Fletcher – Defensive Back (Boston College): Fletcher is a physical player with nice size at 6’1″ 196 pounds and good speed running a 4.5 forty. He had 178 tackles, 21 pass defenses, 11 interceptions and contributed on special teams for the Eagles during his four years. Known as a good zone defender Fletcher has the physicality and range to play safety and the athleticism to lineup at cornerback.
Lance Mitchell – Defensive Back (Oregon State): Mitchell stands at 6’2” 207 pounds and underwent double hernia surgery in November soon after the his senior season, which hurt his draft stock. Playing four years with the Beavers Mitchell amassed 233 tackles, 23 pass defenses and 7 interceptions during his colligate career and was a valuable special teamer. He will have to work on his coverage and ball skills to produce at the next level but the physical tools are there and playing special teams never hurts getting your foot in the door.
John Cullen – Offensive Tackle (Utah): Was considered as a late round draft prospect but went undrafted. Cullen 6’4’ 297 pounds was named second-team all Pac-12 and started 24 games the past two seasons at left tackle for the Utes. With the Jets looking for depth at tackle position Cullen has the potential to develop into a valued member of the team.
Ryan Steed – Cornerback (Furman): A small school prospect who was mentioned as a potential first round pick but a poor performance at the NFL combine, including a 4.7 forty, along with medical concerns pushed Steed out of the draft. Known for his good man-to-man cover and ball skills Steed had 180 tackles, 38 pass defenses and 14 interceptions during his colligate career. The Jets are looking to replace “dime back” Donald Strickland and Rex Ryan loves man coverage which plays right into Steed’s strengths.