Written by: The Blitz Team
We are just a few weeks away from teams kicking off training camps! Each team will start of with a 90-man roster, and in a little over a month they will work that down to 53 players. This is a process that can be difficult to navigate through and it’s stressful for players that are on the roster bubble. Sometimes players find themselves in the right situation in which a team lacks depth at a position, so it offers them a better chance to make the roster. On the flipside, increased competition may mean unemployment for others. For this month’s All32, we take a look at players we believe have a chance at making the 53-man roster.
Robert Foster (WR)
Buffalo’s wide receiver depth chart is pathetic. Currently their two top targets on the outside of their offense are Kelvin Benjamin and Zay Jones. Benjamin has dealt with a couple of major injuries in his past and typically plays at a heavy weight, causing him to play very slow. He is a fine red zone target, but Benjamin is far from a number one receiver in this league. Jones has some potential, but he was one of the league leaders in drops last year. Jones has also had a rough offseason, as he was involved in a “nude incident” in which he vandalized a building in Los Angeles. Reports also suggested that Zay’s brother Caleb saved his life that night, according to CBS. Not only that, but the incident caused him to injure his knee to the point that he needed surgery. He missed all of the spring and some of the summer portions of the offseason. So yeah, the Bills have some major question marks at wide receiver. Considering they just drafted Josh Allen, they need to find some answers for him immediately.
This leads me to predict that Robert Foster will make the 53-man roster. Foster was a 5-star recruit in 2013 out of Pennsylvania that decided to play for Alabama. At 6–2 and roughly 200 pounds, he was an athletic target for Alabama quarterbacks over the past 4 years. Foster did not have big numbers at Alabama, mostly due to the team’s run heavy offensive attack. He only had 30 receptions for 334 yards and 3 touchdowns over his 4 year career. Through the draft process, I viewed him as a probable 5th round pick due to his physical talent. He fell out of the draft completely, and the Bills gobbled him up during the post-draft free agency frenzy. Foster tested very well at the Combine, running a 4.41 second 40-yard dash and 6.9 second three cone drill time.
I love when teams take chances on former 5 star recruits. If they were 5 stars coming out of high school, that means that player has natural abilities. Foster fits that description. He did not have a ton of production at Alabama, but he will have every opportunity to make this team out of training camp if he can prove himself worthy in the pre-season. I truly think that he is the most talented receiver that the Bills have, and he is currently slated as the team’s9th receiver on the depth chart, according to Ourlads.com. I believe in Robert Foster, and I would not be shocked to see him on the Bills’ roster come Week 1
Senorise Perry (RB/KR/PR)
This is a slight cheat by me here. If the Miami Dolphins are going to compete in the AFC East this year, they will need to be very good on special teams. They are not going to have a great offense, but they could have a solid defense if their young pieces step up to the plate and contribute. The problem is, I really do not like the Miami Dolphins’ options at punt and kick returner. Right now, I think Jakeem Grant would be the main returner for them if the season started today. After reviewing some film, I think that the Dolphins will eventually end up with Senorise Perry as their primary kick and punt returner.
Perry has good vision in the open-field and some wiggle to him as well. The Dolphins did give him a few carries last year after they traded Jay Ajayi, so it is clear that they at least acknowledge that he is a playmaker. He returned kicks for them last year as well. On offense, Perry could get some carries, but I think he would start the year as the fourth string running back. The fact of the matter is that he can help the Dolphins on special teams, and that will be vastly important to their success in 2018.
New England Patriots
J.C. Jackson (CB) and Jeremy Hill (RB)
It is always tricky to predict the final 53-man roster that comes out of New England in September. With so many players looking to be on the roster bubble heading into 2018, let’s examine who may gain traction and ultimately make final cuts come September. It is always difficult for undrafted rookies free agents (UDFA) to make a final roster, but each year at least one UDFA prospect manages to beat out their competition and make the final cut. This year the likely candidate is J.C. Jackson, cornerback out of Maryland. He has played opposite Stephon Gilmore throughout OTAs and minicamp, and is likely to become an impact player in 2018. I have been riding high on Jackson, and with his talent and tenacity, he should crack the 53-man roster come September.
During the offseason, New England signed Jeremy Hill to a 1-year contract worth $1 million and includes a $150,000 signing bonus. Upon signing, he joined backfield mates Rex Burkhead, James White, Brandon Bolden and Mike Gillislee. He seemed to be the next player to assume the Lagarrette Blount role and take the Patriots’ coveted goal line opportunities, but once the electric three-down back Sony Michel was added to the mix, Hill now seems to be the odd man out. Brandon Bolden is a key special teams player in New England, and he can be a serviceable backup throughout the season. James White is New England’s third down and change of pace specialist, filling the role of Tom Brady’s safety blanket, and Rex Burkhead proved he can be a swiss-army knife deployed as a 4-down weapon in any situation asked of him. Sony Michel, New England’s new toy, drafted in the first round of the 2018 draft, is expected to become the lead back in New England after replacing Dion Lewis, who packed his bags and left for Nashville. It is not unusual for the Pats to keep five running backs on the 53-man roster in case of injury, and the final roster spot looks to be down to two players.
Mike Gillislee started off the year strong, but he fizzled out and became a healthy scratch for the majority of the year. Jeremy Hill has proved he can be a productive work horse on early downs and in goal line situations throughout his career, but he never gained favor in Marvin Lewis’ offensive scheme. With a productive camp, Hill could slide into the final roster spot as the fifth running back.
New York Jets
Dimitri Flowers (FB/HB/TE)
For those that didn’t get to witness the Swiss Army Knife-type skill set of Dimitri Flowers, I highly recommend you watch his highlights. The former Oklahoma Sooner went undrafted in 2018 and was signed as UDFA by the New York Jets in 2018. Now, Dimitri isn’t your typical type of fullback at 6’2” 248 lbs, as he’s very athletic and can do just about everything. The man can run the ball, lead block, pass protect, catch passes, and run routes as both a tight end or out of the backfield. Flowers is about as well rounded of a fullback as they come. He was a security blanket for the number one overall pick Baker Mayfield and was one of his favorite targets once a play would break down.
In 2017, the Sooners’ fullback/H-back/tight end earned first team All-Conference honors while averaging 17.8 yards per reception, totaling 486 combined yards and nine touchdowns. Flowers should easily beat out the Jets’ 3rd-year vet Lawrence Thomas for the one and only FB roster spot. His positional versatility alone will give the coaching staff roster flexibility, as Dimitri can play both fullback and tight end.