New York Jets 53-Man Roster Projection: Who Will Make the Cut on Standout Defense?

Some key additions have been added to take the New York Jets' top-five defense over the top. Who will end up making the final 53-man roster?

How many changes could a top-five unit make in a single offseason and still manage to improve the roster? That’s what the New York Jets sought out to do this offseason.

After letting Bryce Huff walk in free agency, New York acquired Haason Reddick in a blockbuster deal with Philadelphia and managed to keep the remainder of its core unit together.

Now, last year’s formidable unit is back and ready for an even better year in 2024.

New York Jets 53-Man Roster Projection

With the addition of Reddick, the Jets’ defense went through somewhat of an organizational restructure.

Gone are the massive waves of pass rushers now patrolling the edge. That doesn’t mean the team will be bad, but the loss of John Franklin-Myers and Huff will bring in questions surrounding the unit’s run defense.

Those answers might be solved here as we break down what the defense and special teams units could look like for New York in 2024.

Defensive Tackle (5)

Starters: Quinnen Williams, Solomon Thomas

Backups: Javon Kinlaw, Leki Fotu, Leonard Taylor III

When you have one of the best interior defensive linemen in the game, the need to surround him with other All-Pro talent on the interior isn’t as important.

With Quinnen Williams, the Jets’ defense is still elite and among the most fearsome in the game. Incomers Javon Kinlaw and Leki Fotu should help their overall run defense as well.

Don’t count out the former Miami Hurricane Leonard Taylor III, either. The UDFA has a good shot at making the roster and being another project for the defensive coaching staff to work on.

Edge (5)

Starters: Haason Reddick, Jermaine Johnson II

Backups: Will McDonald IV, Micheal Clemons, Braiden McGregor

This unit looked a lot different before the draft. Before the Franklin-Myers trade, this Jets unit was seen as a top group in the entire league.

It can still be considered that due to Reddick’s presence, but the coaching staff and front office are banking on improvements from Will McDonald IV and Michael Clemons. If neither performs up to par, or even if Jermaine Johnson II slips a little, the Jets’ pass rush will suffer greatly.

Linebacker (5)

Starters: C.J. Mosley, Jamien Sherwood, Quincy Williams

Backups: Zaire Barnes, Chazz Surratt

Mosley and Quincy Williams remain one of the best linebacker duos in the NFL. Williams is coming off a first-team All-Pro season, and Mosley, despite his age, is one of the more consistent players in his position.

It’s Sherwood, the former safety turned linebacker, that provides the biggest question. If Sherwood continues his development, New York could have the next top linebacker no one knows about.

This is still a deep group overall and is a strong reason why this team could remain in the top five defensively.

Cornerback (6)

Starters: Sauce Gardner, D.J. Reed, Michael Carter II

Backups: Brandin Echols, Qwan’tez Stiggers, Tae Hayes

There isn’t a better cornerback trio in the league better than Sauce Gardner, D.J. Reed, and Michael Carter II.

Carter is one of the best slot corners in the game, and Gardner is the first corner since the NFL merger in 1970 to be named a first-team All-Pro in each of his first two seasons.

The depth of the unit was lost when free agency hit, but Brandin Echols and Qwan’Tez Stiggers are high-upside players. Don’t sleep on Tae Hayes to be a quality sixth option, either.

Safety (4)

Starters: Chuck Clark, Tony Adams

Backups: Ashtyn Davis, Jaylen Key

The safety room is easily the weakest on the Jets as a whole entering 2024.

Chuck Clark is coming off ACL surgery, and the Ashtyn Davis/Tony Adams combination played well, but not nearly as well as other players along the defense.

When healthy, Clark can transform this entire unit into one to be feared like the rest of the defense, but it’s asking a lot for a safety to come in and have that impact when injuries begin to mount.

Specialist (3)

Kicker: Greg Zuerlein

Punter: Thomas Morstead

Long Snapper: Thomas Hennessy

There was something odd about how dominant the Jets’ special teams and defensive units were compared to their offense.

In consecutive weeks, Lance Zuerlein and Thomas Morstead would set their team up for success with the defense taking advantage.

The problem? You cannot rely on special teams to be your only offense.

Entering the new season, the top trio is back and should continue to be among the best in football.

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