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.
Joel Lanning (LB)
Joel Lanning is an undrafted free agent from Iowa State who played a variety of positions during his school career, ranging from quarterback to linebacker. His last season at school saw him put up 114 tackles and six sacks on only 822 defensive snaps. He also played 128 snaps on special teams and 51 on offense. He was not invited to the combine, but his physical and athletic traits along with his ability to fly to the ball show up on film.
Lanning is the kind of guy that head coach Jason Garrett covets, as he’s a “we” guy instead of a “me” guy. He can be a valuable contributor as a special teams ace and serve as a backup for a linebacking corps that has had injury or inconsistency issues in the past. The current starting group that the team has with Sean Lee, Jaylon Smith, and rookie Leighton Vander Esch is essentially set, with veterans Damien Wilson and Joe Thomas also figuring to have roles. But the way I see it, Dallas will find a use for a good football player like Lanning, who has shown no issue with transitioning to a new position and playing wherever his coaching staff wants him to.
-William Heiges II
New York Giants
John Jerry (OL)
Jerry has been a mainstay on New York’s shoddy offensive line since 2014, primarily due to his ability to stay healthy and be consistent available, something that cannot be said about most of his other line-mates. However, this offseason, GM Dave Gettleman has committed to retooling that position group. He drafted guard Will Hernandez and signed guard Patrick Omameh, both of whom are projected to be starters. The Giants also have two centers, Brett Jones and Jon Halapio, who played well last season and are competing to be the starter. The one who loses out will undoubtedly be the primary backup interior lineman, meaning Jerry is fighting for a very limited roster spot. This puts Jerry on the very brink of the roster bubble, and the team would save $1.8 million by cutting him.
However, New York’s offensive line injuries have been well documented over the years, and really the only consistent player amongst that was Jerry. If Gettleman is really committed to that position group, he needs to have a contingency plan in place. I say Jerry just barely makes it.
Jeremy Reaves (S)
Jeremy Reaves is one of the UDFAs the Philadelphia Eagles brought in from the 2018 NFL Draft class. The Eagles have an open competition for the two open backup safety slots on their roster. Reaves is entering a situation where, if he can prove himself, he could make the team and see some playing time. He is known for his hard-hitting ability, and with his tackling skills he can work his way onto special teams.
During his final season at South Alabama, Reaves had 104 total tackles, 1.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, and 3 interceptions. He has a great opportunity to come in and learn under Malcolm Jenkins and become a better player. If things can click fast for Reaves, then he should be able to make the 53-man roster and Philadelphia will have yet again hit on a UDFA.
Trey Quinn (WR)
Coming out of SMU, Trey Quinn goes to the Redskins organization after being picked dead last in the 2018 NFL Draft. Nicknamed “Mr. Irrelevant,” Quinn has the chance to become the most relevant 256th pick we’ve seen. After working out for the team, Quinn has a new nickname now, given by Redskins head coach Jay Gruden: “silent assassin.”
“Silent assassin” is an accurate description of Quinn’s playstyle. He’s not a flashy receiver, but he’s incredibly smart, quick, and is a superb route runner with dependable hands. Quinn’s results speak for themselves, as he averaged 9 catches and 95 yards per game last year and caught at least 8 balls in 6 of his 13 games.
Quinn is dropped on a team that needs more WR talent. Jamison Crowder and Josh Doctson return, with 66 and 44 catches in 2017 respectively, and Washington picked up Paul Richardson, who had 44 in Seattle. With that said, it’s unlikely Quinn will go from last pick in the draft to primary receiver for the Redskins. But he’s an ideal possession receiver that can find success in short to medium routes while other receivers stretch the defense vertically.