Jets writer Andy Vasquez goes position-by-position through the offense in advance of training camp.
Andy Vasquez, Staff Writer, @andy_vasquez
The Jets enter 2018 with a rare feeling of positivity.
Sure, they’re coming off back-to-back 5-11 seasons. But they drafted a potential franchise quarterback in Sam Darnold. They have some unproven but potentially explosive weapons on offense. And they Jets believe their defense is on the verge of becoming elite.
We won’t begin to know how good the Jets are until July 26, when they report to training camp. But until then, we’ll take a look at every position group. Next up, the running backs.
The depth chart
(Projected starter in bold): Bilal Powell, Isaiah Crowell, Elijah McGuire, Trenton Cannon, Thomas Rawls, Lawrence Thomas, Dmitri Flowers
The Jets have used a running back-by-committee system for the last several years, and don’t expect that to change in 2018, even with a new offensive coordinator and a new capable running back.
The Jets upgraded their corps by adding former Cleveland running back Isaiah Crowell in free agency. Crowell, who will likely get the majority of the carries, is younger and has less mileage than the soon-to-be 30-year-old Powell. But expect both players to get plenty of time with the ball.
The Jets also have an interesting battle brewing at fullback, where Lawrence Thomas (a converted defensive lineman out of Michigan State) and Oklahoma rookie Dmitri Flowers.
The big question
What can they get out of their young RBs?
Powell and Crowell are almost certainly locks to make the roster. And the battle between Thomas and Flowers is interesting, but we like Thomas’s chances of being the starter because he didn’t look overwhelmed making the jump to offense, and he can still be used as an emergency defensive lineman.
But the Jets could have a tough choice between two young running backs before the end of the preseason.
Trenton Cannon, the Jets’ seventh-round pick out of Virginia State in this years draft, brings 4.40 speed and was a proven kick returner in college. Don’t be surprised if he gets a chance to earn the return job in camp.
And then there’s Eli McGuire. the Jets’ 2016 second round pick, is a shifty runner who showed some flashes of brilliance as a rookie, but scored only two touchdowns.
Running backs coach Stump Mitchell raved about McGuire last month, saying the second-year player “has the skillset to be a LaDainian Tomlinson, if he was given that opportunity.” But before he makes the Hall of Fame, like Tomlinson, McGuire will likely need a strong training camp and preseason to guarantee his spot on the roster.
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