Jets' 53-man roster projection includes 19 rookies and second-year players

The New York Jets must cut their roster to 53 players by 4 p.m. ET Saturday. Here's a final 53-man roster projection:

QUARTERBACK (3): Josh McCown, Bryce Petty, Christian Hackenberg

After carrying four quarterbacks last season, the Jets will return to normalcy. Petty secured his roster spot with a solid preseason and could open the season as the No. 2 quarterback. Hackenberg is safe for another year because there's no way general manager Mike Maccagnan will cut a second-round pick from a year ago. McCown is preparing for the fifth opening-day start of his 15-year career.

RUNNING BACK (4): Matt Forte, Bilal Powell, Elijah McGuire, Marcus Murphy

The Jets reportedly have shopped Forte, but it would be a shock if he's not on the roster. At 31, he doesn't fit the youth movement, but he still has value on and off the field. They can revisit trade talks as they get closer to the midseason deadline, once they have a better feel for McGuire, who broke a 34-yard run Thursday night in the preseason finale. McGuire (sixth-round pick) is a "Steady Eddie" who, much like Forte, can contribute in the passing game. Murphy will make it because he can return punts and kickoffs, but you get the feeling it will be a season of musical returners.

FULLBACK (1): Julian Howsare

Yes, they will have a fullback this year; it's a necessity in a West Coast-style system. Rookie Anthony Firkser is a better athlete than Howsare, but Howsare brings an element of toughness. It also wouldn't be a shock if they go outside the organization.

WIDE RECEIVER (5): Robby Anderson, ArDarius Stewart, Chad Hansen, Kenbrell Thompkins, Charone Peake

This could be the worst receiving corps in the NFL. It's so thin that Thompkins, whom the Jets cut last preseason, is now considered the veteran presence. Look for Maccagnan to work on the bottom of the depth chart over the next few days. Frankly, he should address the top, too, but it would be a surprise if he makes a significant move. Peake has slipped on the depth chart and could be in trouble. This might surprise some, but Jalin Marshall -- suspended for the first four games -- is on the bubble. They also have to make a decision on Lucky Whitehead (broken foot), who has value as a return specialist.

TIGHT END (2): Eric Tomlinson, Jordan Leggett

This is a mess. Presumptive starter Austin Seferian-Jenkins faces a two-game suspension, leaving Tomlinson as the only experienced tight end -- and he's dealing with an undisclosed injury. Chris Gragg was trending toward a roster spot, but he suffered a potentially serious knee/ankle injury on Thursday night. Leggett (fifth round), coming off a foot injury, isn't ready to contribute. The front office is studying other rosters, looking for potential waiver pickups. Keep an eye on the New York Giants, who have depth. Will Tye is on the bubble and would be an upgrade for the Jets. This position could look dramatically different on Monday.

OFFENSIVE LINE (9): Kelvin Beachum, James Carpenter, Wesley Johnson, Brian Winters, Brandon Shell, Ben Ijalana, Brent Qvale, Jonotthan Harrison, Dakota Dozier

It looks weird without Nick Mangold, doesn't it? There's uncertainty at center and both tackle spots, although the hunch is that Johnson, Beachum and Shell and will emerge as starters. You may disagree, but the Jets really like their offensive line, especially the depth. Craig Watts, a hard-nosed guard, will be a tough cut.

DEFENSIVE LINE (7): Leonard Williams, Steve McLendon, Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson, Lawrence Thomas, Deon Simon, Kony Ealy

The Jets could trade Richardson if they get the right offer, but that seems unlikely. He's one of their best players, but he's in a contract year and could bolt as a free agent next March. Ealy, picked up last weekend on waivers, recorded a strip sack in his debut. He can be a situational pass-rusher and rotational player. Mike Pennel is a tough cut because he's a massive run-stuffer. The Jets need a lot of bodies because, let's face it, the defense will spend a lot of time on the field.

LINEBACKER (9): Darron Lee, Demario Davis, Jordan Jenkins, Josh Martin, Dylan Donahue, Bruce Carter, Julian Stanford, Freddie Bishop, Frank Beltre.

It looks weird without David Harris, doesn't it? There's a lot of that going around. The first five are on solid ground, but anything can happen after that. The news here is that Lorenzo Mauldin, a third-round pick in 2015, isn't on the roster. He's battling a back injury and probably will end up on injured reserve -- or released outright. Look for a committee approach at rush linebacker, with Martin and Donahue sharing time.

SECONDARY (10): Jamal Adams, Marcus Maye, Morris Claiborne, Buster Skrine, Juston Burris, Darryl Roberts, Rontez Miles, Shamarko Thomas, Terrence Brooks, Derrick Jones

They've already jettisoned one veteran cornerback, Dexter McDougle, and Marcus Williams will be the next to go. He's due to make a non-guaranteed $2.75 million, too high for a No. 5 corner. They will try to trade him before cut-down day. The crazy thing is, they still need a starting-caliber corner. There are only two long-term answers in the secondary: Adams and Maye. Everybody else is fighting for their future. Miles has an eye injury and could be an injured-reserve candidate.

SPECIALISTS (3): PK Ross Martin, P Lachlan Edwards and LS Thomas Hennessy

Martin outkicked Chandler Catanzaro and deserves a roster spot. The Jets have a tough call to make at long-snapper, with Hennessy and longtime incumbent Tanner Purdum. Their weeks-long search for a replacement suggests that Purdum, 33, has slipped. They traded for Hennessy, which shows a sense of urgency.