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Post Draft: New York Jets Defensive Roster Breakdown

New York Jets Post Draft Overview

The first draft of Jets GM Joe Douglas is in the books. The main focus of the offseason has been improving the Jets roster around Sam Darnold. As a result of this, the Jets defense has taken a backseat in the headlines.

The major storyline on the Jets defense is Jamal Adams and his future with the franchise. Joe Douglas has some unfinished business with the 24-year old megastar. The Jets have to prove their commitment to Adams. Last year’s trade talks have created a wedge between both sides.

The Jets roster on defense is relatively the same as it was last year. Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams did a fantastic job in 2019. The team finished in the middle of the pack on defense (16th), but Williams deserves credit for getting the most out of what was a depleted roster due to injuries.

Let’s take an in-depth look at the Jets roster on defense post free agency and the draft. Position by position.

Defensive Linemen

Henry Anderson, Steve McLendon, Quinnen Williams, Folorunso Fatukasi, Kyle Phillips, Nathan Shepherd, Jordan Willis, John Franklin-Myers, Bronson Kaufusi, Sterling Johnson, Domenique Davis (11)

The most unheralded group on the Jets is their defensive front. The team finished second against the run in the league, allowing only 86 yards rushing per game. Veterans Henry Anderson and Steve McLendon deserve a significant part of the credit for that. McLendon (34) is the senior member of the Jets roster and one of its best leaders. Even at his advanced age, McLendon is one of the game’s very best run stoppers.

The Jets have an active group of young players in Fatukasi, Phillips, and Shepherd. The player who is most important to this unit, However, is Quinnen Williams. The second-year stud from Alabama showed flashes of brilliance against the run but underwhelmed as a pass rusher in his rookie season. The Jets’ expectations for Williams as a top-three pick are sky-high. Consequently, Williams needs to play on that level.

Linebackers

C.J. Mosley, Jordan Jenkins, Tarell Basham, Jabari Zuniga, Avery Williamson, Blake Cashman, James Burgess, Neville Hewitt, Patrick Onwuasor, Frankie Luvu, Ahmad Gooden, B.J. Bello, Bryce Huff, Wyatt Ray (14)

On paper, the Jets inside linebacking corps looks to be one of the deepest in the entire league. However, on the other hand, the group can also be labeled as the walking wounded. Starters Mosley, Williamson, and Cashman are all coming off of serious injuries. In conclusion, the uncertainty led the Jets to resign Burgess and Hewitt, in addition to signing free agent Patrick Onwuasor.

Meanwhile, the one constant at outside linebacker for the Jets is Jordan Jenkins. The fifth-year pro was coming off an eight sack campaign in 2019. For whatever reason, the market simply wasn’t there for Jenkins. He returns to New York on a one-year deal with a lot to prove.

The wildcard at outside linebacker for the Jets is third-round draft pick, Jabari Zuniga. At Florida, Zuniga had the majority of his success as a pass rusher on the line of scrimmage, but with New York, he could line up in multiple spots across the front seven.

Cornerbacks

Pierre Desir, Brian Poole, Quincy Wilson, Bryce Hall, Bless Austin, Kyron Brown, Arthur Maulet, Nate Hairston, Javelin Guidry Jr., Lamar Jackson (10)

Veteran Cornerback Pierre Desir joins two other former Colts at the corner spot in Nate Hairston and the recently acquired Quincy Wilson. Reliable nickel corner Brian Poole is back on a one-year deal.

The Jets played a game of musical chairs at cornerback last season. When the music stopped, an unlikely group of players ended up with seats in the secondary. Bless Austin, Kyron Brown, and Arthur Maulet ended up playing meaningful snaps, and all three more than held their own. As a result, the Jets’ depth should be better. The question is, who will emerge as a front line starter? The Jets hope is that fifth-round pick Bryce Hall returns to the form he displayed as a junior at Virginia when he led the nation in passes defended.

Safeties

Jamal Adams, Marcus Maye, Ashtyn Davis, Matthias Farley, Bennett Jackson, Anthony Cioffi, Shyheim Carter (7)

On the surface, the drafting of Safety Ashtyn Davis seems like a precursor to the eventual departure of Marcus Maye or Jamal Adams. Upon further inspection, the selection of Davis may be beneficial to the Jets star tandem at safety. If Davis pans out in his role as a deep safety, it will give Jamal Adams more freedom to play in the box and wreak havoc. Farley and Jackson are solid depth pieces and special teams contributors, but Davis gives the Jets a more versatile option at the position. Having Maye and Davis on the backend will also help aid the Jets corners in coverage. Injuries have held Marcus Maye from achieving his full potential.

Final Analysis

The Jets’ defense is lacking difference-makers in crucial roles. Most notably, a shutdown corner and a premier pass-rusher. The three most important players on the Jets defense are Jamal Adams, C.J. Mosley, and Quinnen Williams. If the latter two can play at a high level, the Jets defense will be formidable, especially with Gregg Williams at the controls.


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