The New York Jets had one of the most dominant defenses in the NFL a season ago. They finished sixth in EPA and third in success rate defensively. The Jets were a well-oiled machine, with all 11 defenders working in harmony at all times. They flew around the field defensively while playing an intelligent brand of football. And New York’s DL depth chart and secondary have both improved this offseason.
New York Jets DL Depth Chart
In an NFL landscape where few teams seem to have hoarded all of the defensive line talent, the Jets are one of those franchises. John Franklin-Myers, Quinnen Williams, Al Woods, and Carl Lawson are a strong foursome to start games with.
Franklin-Myers remains one of the most underrated defenders in professional football. He’s produced three consecutive seasons of over 50 defensive pressures while also being one of the strongest run defenders in the league. Franklin-Myers’ 280-pound frame makes what he does on the edge even more impressive.
Williams is a young man who needs no introduction. He was an All-Pro last year, and he’s on the hunt for a long-term contract with the Jets.
“I speak for everyone, and I probably speak for Quinnen in that we all want to get it done sooner rather than later,” Jets HC Robert Saleh said. “Again, I’ll let the business guys handle all that stuff. But it’s going to get done. He’ll be here for camp, ready to roll.”
When Williams does get paid, it’ll almost certainly be as the second-highest-paid interior defensive lineman behind Aaron Donald.
Woods may be nearing a permanent residence at the ranch in retirement, but for now, the 36-year-old will play 300-600 snaps on the Jets’ defensive line as their primary nose. He’s still a very good run defender.
Lawson still provides starting-caliber play, but the team will almost certainly be looking for one of their young defensive ends to usurp him in the starting lineup by the end of the season.
Will Jermaine Johnson or Will McDonald IV Shine Bright in the New York Lights?
The Jets have had four first-round picks over the past two seasons, and two of them became defensive ends. Will McDonald IV was considered overdrafted at the time of the selection, but because of his pass-rushing upside, he has a chance to silence doubters early in his NFL career. McDonald plays with impressive flexibility and surprising strength from his 240-pound frame, although strength won’t be how he wins at the NFL level.
Jermaine Johnson played somewhat sparingly as a rookie. But surprisingly enough, he played almost as many run-defending snaps as he did pass-rushing. As a young edge defender, Johnson was impressive against the run. He also showed improved pass-rush productivity late in the season.
More Depth To Show Opposing Blockers
Find someone who believes in you the way that Saleh believes in Solomon Thomas.
“Coach Saleh and I are really close. I love him, I love his family. He has a special place in my heart, just the way he’s fought for me, the way he’s taken care of me,” Thomas said. “I wanted to be somewhere where I was wanted, where people believe in me, and I believe that is here.”
Thomas needs to become part of a rotation for a NASCAR package where his sole focus would be using his athleticism to get to the QB on obvious passing downs alongside a bunch of athletic edge defenders. The Jets appeared to play things more like waves of teams instead of situational substitutions, and they could really help some of their defenders succeed by changing that philosophy.
Micheal Clemons flashed solid play on the edge for New York as a rookie. However, he still leaves much to be desired as a pass rusher. Clemons is another big-bodied player with outside-in versatility that has largely played only on the edge for New York. If Clemons improves as a pass rusher in 2023 he could end up being someone who plays 500-600 defensive snaps on a really talented defensive line.
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