What do the advanced numbers say about Jabari Zuniga’s chances of solving New York’s everlasting weakness on the edge?
The Jets have not had an edge rusher rank top-25 at his position in pressures during a single season since the stat was first tracked in 2006. They have not had one accumulate more than 10 sacks in a season since John Abraham picked up 10.5 in 2005, his final season with the Jets.
Since Abraham was traded, the Jets defense has been held back by a lack of pass-rushing juice off the edge for 14 seasons running. The absence of a player who can provide that electricity was once again among the team’s most glaring issues coming into the 2020 offseason.
Unfortunately, with so many pressing needs on the offensive side of the ball, the Jets were unable to make a premium investment at EDGE in the 2020 offseason.
Their lone newcomer of note as things stand today is Florida product Jabari Zuniga, taken with the 79th overall pick in the third round of the draft.
Can Zuniga do what his former teammate Jachai Polite could not and give the Jets a pass-rushing steal out of the third round?
Let’s head to the numbers.
Outstanding 2019 production in small sample
Zuniga only played six games* and 188 snaps in 2019 due to a high ankle sprain, but he was fantastic when on the field.
*some outlets have Zuniga listed as only playing five games in 2019, excluding the game against Kentucky in which he was injured
Over 124 pass-rush snaps, Zuniga picked up 19 total pressures (4 sacks, 2 hits, 13 hurries), generating pressure at a 15.3% rate. That mark would have ranked at the 94th percentile among qualified edge defenders.
Zuniga was highly active in the run game as well, picking up seven run stops (tackles in the run game that constitute a negatively valued result for the offense) on just 64 run defense snaps for an incredible rate of 10.9%. That would have ranked fourth-best in the nation among EDGE and second-best at the position in the SEC behind Alabama’s Anfernee Jennings, who was drafted by New England eight picks after Zuniga.