The Jets’ defense was atrocious in 2021 and has to improve, right? The team allowed 504 points – the most in the NFL and the defense was gouged on the ground and through the air. They were 29th in rush yards allowed and 32nd in rushing TDs allowed. The pass defense was terrible, ranked 30th in passing yards allowed, and had only seven interceptions.
The Jets added a few solid pieces in free agency, signing corner DJ Reed and safety Jordan Whitehead. The team did, however, attack defense in the draft. They selected Sauce Gardner with the fourth pick and Florida State’s edge rusher Jermaine Johnson II at pick 29. Both should be impact guys from day one. The return of edge rusher Carl Lawson, who missed 2021 with a torn Achilles, can’t be understated.
The third pick in the 2019 draft, Williams anchors the middle of the defense and is rounding into a good DT for IDP leagues. He has extra value in DT premium also. He has topped 50 tackles the past two seasons and had seven sacks in 2020, following it up with six in 2021. Williams will be aided by the return of Lawson and the addition of Johnson. The D line is massively improved from last season, and Williams locks down the middle of their 4-3.
The former Bengal signed a big deal with New York before the 2021 season and is now ready to take the field. The Achilles injury can sap speed; how will it affect Lawson? Ultimately, playing next to Williams and opposite Johnson could unleash Lawson. He had 8.5 sacks as a rookie in 2017, and a return to that number should be attainable. Couple that with 35-40 tackles, and Lawson could be a sneaky DE3/4.
Jermaine Johnson II
The Jets knocked the first round of the NFL Draft out of the park. Getting Gardner, Garrett Wilson, and then Johnson in the first round was one of the biggest coups in recent history. Johnson had top ten potential and fell to 29th.
Johnson is an intelligent run defender with an impressive array of pass-rushing moves. He lets blocks develop and has a strong anchor when engaged. In pass rushing, he gets off the ball quickly and varies his moves to keep offensive lineman off balance. Johnson never stops. He raked in 70 tackles and 11.5 sacks as a senior at Florida State. That’s his ceiling in the NFL, and he may take a few years to get to it. Johnson is a guy I am targeting in IDP drafts, he has DL1 upside.
Best of the Rest
Solomon Thomas, Jacob Martin, and Sheldon Rankins are rotational guys and have no IDP value. Former Texas A&M rookie Michael Clemons is an intriguing deep bench stash. He showcased impressive speed-to-power at A&M and was incredibly disruptive at times. Clemons could be a rotational guy who earns a full-time spot with development.
It’s never sexy, but Mosley keeps raking in tackles. He returned to football after missing nearly two years and promptly produced a career-high with 168 total tackles. When he’s on the field, he’s a low-end LB1 as he doesn’t give you much aside from the tackles. They provide a nice floor, and he’s a set-and-forget player for your lineup. Mosley just turned 30 and only has six full seasons under his belt – he could have a handful of good years left for your IDP squads.
At age 25, Williams cracked the lineup for the Jets and gave us 110 total tackles with a pair of sacks, finishing as an LB3. At 5’11” and 225 pounds, he’s a compact LB with a penchant for making big hits and being in the right place at the right time. He will stay on the field, but I see his production as close to his ceiling. Williams has shortcomings, but there aren’t better options, and his play style is fun to watch.
Best of the Rest
Not long ago, we were talking about Kwon Alexander as a top IDP backer. That was 2016 and 2017, though, and he’s a shell of what he once was. Could he find the old magic? I don’t count on it, but I am certainly rooting for him. The depth chart is a barren wasteland beyond Alexander.
Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner
Sauce Gardner’s ability to change direction is ELITE. pic.twitter.com/53CsBJLzfJ— NFL Rookie Watch (@NFLRookieWatxh) August 2, 2022
The Jets selected the first corner in the 2022 Draft, taking the former Cincinnati stud with the fourth pick. I love Gardner’s game, and he may be tested early, but I don’t see him being a valuable corner for IDP. He is solid in run defense and not a liability tackling, and he will be the CB1 from Week 1.
Reed, on the other hand, will be valuable for IDP. His 78 total tackles in 2021 put him in CB2 territory, and I could see him replicating it. He had two interceptions in the previous two seasons, and ten passes defended last season. Reed should be active and be a startable corner for IDP.
The team targeted Whitehead in free agency to help with a safety group that drastically needed an upgrade. Whitehead is an aggressive defender that plays downhill and from Tampa, so he has the winning pedigree the Jets hope to infuse into their culture. He’s not going to be a top safety in IDP and is a depth S3/4 type at best.
Best of the Rest
The other safety spot is now Lamarcus Joyner, and he’s incredibly uninspiring for IDP and actual NFL prospects. Ashtyn Davis will get reps also but is also not a viable IDP starter.
The defense will be better, and having a fully healthy defensive line will be one of the keys. The line is one of their strengths and could round into one of the better units in the league. The linebackers are solid, and Mosley is gonna eat. The corners are vastly improved, and the safeties are solid yet unspectacular.
The unit will not allow as many yards through the air, and the run defense should stiffen. It’s still a middle-of-the-league type of defense at best. Head coach Robert Saleh has been the type of coach to get a lot out of his players, and the defense has the potential to play to a much higher level than their talent. The defense is heading the right way, and I love the rookies, Sauce and Johnson, to give them some much-needed edge.
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