The New York Jets are not particularly known for signing their undrafted free agents to the final 53-man roster. This is in stark contrast to certain other teams – say, the Super Bowl-champion Seattle Seahawks, who got serious production out of former UFAs Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse on their road to hoisting the Lombardi Trophy last February.
Maybe this season, the Jets should take a cue from Seattle, dig into the depths of their training camp roster and sign one, just one, undrafted rookie.
In my recently published articles taking an early shot at projecting the 53-man roster, I had the Jets signing 10 of their 12 draft picks but none of their undrafted rookies or tryout players. But if I could pick one player to have a good enough training camp to make the final roster, it would be Boston College linebacker Steele Divitto.
The last two NFL linebackers to come out of Boston College were Luke Kuechly in 2012 and Mark Herzlich in 2011. The former has become one of the league’s top defensive players with the Carolina Panthers, while the latter overcame bone cancer to begin a productive career with the New York Giants. Divitto might not have that same level of talent, but it says something that he led Boston College in tackles last year with 112 and recorded three sacks. He finished his college career with over six tackles per game.
The 6-2, 237-pound Divitto is versatile, having experience at both outside and inside linebacker. The Jets are thin at inside linebacker behind starters David Harris and Demario Davis. Teams that play a 3-4 defense need to have more inside ’backers on the roster than 4-3 teams. The Jets drafted ILB Jeremiah George in the fifth round, but should both Harris and Davis sustain injuries in the preseason, God forbid, someone else would need to step up.
Finally, Divitto could also prove he’s valuable on special teams. Linebackers Garrett McIntyre and Nick Bellore are special teams veterans, but if “competition” is Rex Ryan’s training camp mantra, it ought to apply to more than the flashy positions. To put it another way, the extra facet of special teams work makes it more likely for the Jets, or any team, to sign a defensive undrafted rookie than an undrafted quarterback or running back.
We’re still many weeks away from training camp and the start of roster cuts, but listen for Steele Divitto’s name. Not just because it’s cool, gritty, the kind of name you want your linebackers to have – but because we may start hearing it on Sundays.
News and Notes: The Jets signed first-round pick Calvin Pryor to a four-year, $8.56 million rookie contract Monday. The former Louisville safety was the 18th overall selection in last month’s NFL Draft. (Third-round cornerback Dex McDougle is the only Jet draft pick who has not yet signed.) Pryor played with Antonio Allen on the first-team defense in practice Wednesday, while Dawan Landry played on the second-team unit.
~Dee Milliner was held out of OTAs Wednesday with hamstring tightness. He told reporters his sitting out was “just precautionary.”
~Because you needed more Michael Vick chatter, the veteran backup QB told NFL.com’s Kimberly Jones that he’d really prefer not to be a backup QB. “I think, at times, it does hurt deep down that I’m not in that group (of the 32 starting QBs in the NFL),” he said. “Everything happens for a reason, and maybe it’s time for me to just kind of sit back and kind of appreciate what I’m going through now to make me a better quarterback in the future.”