Finding undrafted players that can help a team immediately is like finding a needle in a haystack. For the New York Jets, having two undrafted free agents playing as well as they are is nothing short of miraculous.
Zonovan “Bam” Knight and Nate Herbig are two undrafted offensive players that have played major roles in the Jets’ turnaround this season. While their stories aren’t similar, that connection of a runningback and offensive lineman who were cast aside has helped New York go from laughable losers to a true playoff contender.
“I told coach last week that it was a blessing to be able to suit up. It’s been a long season, not being able to play early on and such. Just trusting in God’s plan and keeping your head up and just working.” Knight told reporters Wednesday. “It’s good to see everything’s finally coming together.’
In two games since being called up, Knight has averaged over five yards a carry, with over 200 yards from scrimmage. His shiftiness and speed have come at a time when the Jets needed more offensive production.
To Knight, his recent success says more about his offensive line, than his own success.
“Everyone’s highlighting what I’m doing, but really it’s the guys up front because they’ve been busting their ass blocking and I think that’s just helping me bring everything together.”
Veteran leadership is always key to a team’s growth. For Knight, his connection as a current undrafted rookie meshes well with others on his team.
Nate Herbig on the other hand is a four-year NFL veteran. As a former Philadelphia Eagle, Herbig learned and worshipped at the altar of Jeff Stoutland who he credits as a major reason for his successful NFL career.
“Jeff Stoutland is a beast man. I had a great offensive line in Philly just being with guys like (Jason) Kelce and Lane (Johnson). But we also have a great offensive line here with Dwayne and McGovern…just veterans who play at a very high level for a very long time…it makes me want to elevate my game so I could play at their level.” Herbig told AMNY.
When asked about Knight’s comments regarding the offensive line paving the way for the undrafted runner, Herbig was quick to give the praise right back.
“I gotta credit all the success to him. He’s a stud man. I saw him when he came in during training camp. I didn’t know who he was. I got a lot of love for undrafted guys as I was one so I’m just really proud of him.”
Herbig has started eight games for the Jets this season and is graded out at an above-average 63 from Pro Football Focus. The former Stanford product has been a mainstay on a Jets line that has been devastated by injuries.
At just 24 years old, Herbig can be a mainstay on the Jets line for years to come. Knight himself is just 21. While the Jets continue to play meaningful games in December for the first time in years, it’s a prime opportunity for their young core to get needed experience as they become closer and closer to championship contenders.