As training camp looms, here is how the New York Jets fanbase pictures the roster hierarchy.
Yesterday, I sent out a survey asking New York Jets fans to rate 57 key members of the team’s current roster (excluding undrafted free agent rookies and other seldom-known fringe players) on a scale of 0-to-10 according to where they think each player will rank at his position league-wide in 2020. A score of five would be perfectly average, a score of ten would be surefire All-Pro caliber, and a score of zero would be practice squad level talent and/or performance.
With 202 responses, we have a decent-sized sample of data to get a gauge on how the Jets fanbase – or at least a tiny portion of it on Twitter – feels about its players heading into training camp.
Let’s run through the entire ranking, and along the way, point out the players who were the most overrated and most underrated by the fans.
Tier 5 (average rating below 4.0)
The bottom tier is made up of 10 players who received an average rating below 4.0. Offensive players have a white background, defensive players have a green background, and special teams players have a gray background.
Here is the bottom of the barrel.
Most overrated: Jonotthan Harrison (#53, 3.42)
The voters did not seem to have much of a grasp on how detrimental Harrison was to the offense in 2019. Astonishingly, over a quarter of them (27.2%) scored Harrison at a five or better.
Perhaps the fact that Harrison has proven enough in the league to actually be a starter for an extended period (most players never reach that point) warrants him earning a score higher than a zero or one, but giving him anything more than a two – three max – is mind-blowing to me. Harrison was arguably the weakest player on the team’s weakest unit.
Most underrated: Trevon Wesco (#51, 3.54)
Wesco did not deliver on his promise as a blocker early on in his rookie season, but he finished the season on a high note, starting to show flashes of excellence on a more consistent basis. He especially thrived when the Jets lined him up at fullback or had him off the line of scrimmage, looking more comfortable when given the chance to build a head of steam.
I do not think Wesco deserved a drastically higher score than the one he got (3.54), but in a year’s time, I think the fanbase will view him in a much more positive light.
Tier 4 (average rating from 4.0 to 4.99)
The fourth tier includes 14 players who received an average rating of at least 4.0 and less than 5.0.
Most overrated: Blake Cashman (#35, 4.78)
Cashman has intriguing versatility – with his ability to blitz, cover man-to-man, and even rush from the edge – but his rookie-year performance did not warrant even close to an average score. He was a major liability throughout his time on the field, especially against the run, where he consistently failed to cover his gap and allowed big gains.
To be fair, Cashman was a fifth-round rookie who was tossed into a featured role much earlier than the Jets had intended due to the losses of Avery Williamson and C.J. Mosley. Perhaps the voters are confident in Cashman taking a second-year leap. I could absolutely see him having a much improved Year 2 in a sub-package role that emphasizes his strengths.
For now, Cashman needs to be considered the team’s sixth-best off-ball linebacker until he proves otherwise.
Most underrated: Arthur Maulet (#37, 4.75)
While Maulet does not have the prototype coverage skills, and because of that is likely best-suited as a No. 3 cornerback long-term, his play in 2019 certainly warranted an above-average score. He should by no means have ranked behind Cashman, Hewitt, and Braxton Berrios.
It was Maulet’s downhill finishing that made him a sound fit in Gregg Williams’ Cover-3 looks, leading to solid production. Maulet allowed a passer rating of 83.9 into his coverage, which ranked at the 74th percentile among qualified cornerbacks. He was also active as a run defender, ranking at the 94th percentile among corners as he recorded a run stop on 4.8% of his snaps against the run. To boot, Maulet was not tagged with a single missed tackle in run support.
Maulet’s play in the second half of the season was a big part of the team’s turnaround. The switch at outside cornerback from Trumaine Johnson, Darryl Roberts, and Nate Hairston to Maulet and Bless Austin (although due to injuries and not by choice) was transformative for the defense’s identity and performance level.
His 2019 season may have been an outlier, and his skill-set probably does not fit the mold of an ideal starter in 2020 and beyond, but Maulet had a good stretch in the starting lineup and proved himself to be at least a solid depth piece, two things that quite a few players ranked above him did not accomplish.
Tier 3 (average rating from 5.0 to 5.99)
The third tier includes 12 players who received an average rating of at least 5.0 and less than 6.0.
With key starters now involved in the action, things start to get very interesting.
Most overrated: Ashtyn Davis (#24, 5.53)
This is definitely a case of the fanbase expecting far too much out of a rookie. Davis has intriguing upside thanks to his blazing speed and incredible work ethic, but as Joe Blewett’s film breakdown with Marcus Coleman revealed, he has a litany of major flaws that will prevent him from being able to play at an adequate level from Day 1.
If Davis can iron out his weaknesses over time, he has the raw tools to become a special player, but he cannot be expected to do much of anything in 2020. He is much more of a long-term project type of prospect than an instant-impact one.
Most underrated: Tarell Basham (#33, 5.00)
Basham was quietly the team’s best edge defender in 2019, and also one of the team’s most versatile contributors overall.
As a pass-rusher, Basham led the Jets with 39 pressures (48th among EDGE), which was eight more than Jordan Jenkins despite Jenkins getting 26 more pass-rush snaps. Basham generated pressure on 13.4% of his rushes while Jenkins did on 9.7% of his (the 2019 average at EDGE was 11.3%).
Basham was also an active run-stopper, ranking at the 73rd percentile among edge defenders as he picked up a run stop on 7.8% of his snaps against the run.
The Jets used Basham in coverage relatively frequently, as he ranked 11th at the position with 75 snaps in coverage, and he delivered on those reps. Basham allowed only three first downs on 14 targets (21.4%) and ranked at the 70th percentile among edge defenders with a Pro Football Focus coverage grade of 70.2.
Basham made his presence known on special teams as well, recording five tackles in coverage, assisting as a blocker on five kickoff returns beyond the 25-yard line, and blocking a punt.
He is certainly not the beastly pass-rusher that the Jets have been longing for, but Basham is a jack-of-all-trades that is capable of performing at a solid level in a vast array of roles on both defense and special teams. Personally, I would have ranked him above almost every one of the 10 players that he shares the third tier with. Ryan Griffin, Nathan Shepherd, and Greg Van Roten are toss-ups, but Basham easily beats out the other six players in my view.
Tier 2 (average rating from 6.0 to 6.99)
The second tier includes nine players who received an average rating of at least 6.0 and less than 7.0.
Most overrated: Jordan Jenkins (#17, 6.42)
Jenkins’ most common score among the voters was a seven (37%). He even received a good chunk of eights (12%).
Those scores are awfully optimistic for a very mediocre edge rusher who was just valued by the league as worthy of a one-year, $3.75M deal.
As I described previously, Jenkins was not even the best edge rusher among the Jets’ talent-deprived group. Basham had Jenkins beat out handily in most aspects, recording a better pressure rate (13.4% vs. 9.7%), run stop rate (7.8% vs. 4.5%), and coverage grade (70.2 vs. 55.0). All three marks landed Basham above the positional average and Jenkins in the bottom-30%.
Pro Football Focus scored Jenkins with an overall grade of 66.9 that ranked 50th out of 92 qualified edge defenders, or the 46th percentile. That’s a plenty fair rating. Jenkins is a player who is just. . . there. He does not kill the team, but he does not add much, either.
Jenkins provides hustle sacks, toughness, and sound tackling (77th percentile among EDGE in 2019 with 12.0% miss rate), while he does not hurt the team with brutal pass-rushing or egregious edge-setting, but he still produces at a level below the typical NFL edge defender in all three facets (pass-rush, run, coverage). Most importantly, it’s his lack of juice as a rusher that limits his value.
While he unquestionably deserves to start on this particular team and is by no means a terrible player, 81.5% of voters viewing Jenkins as above-average is definitely much too high.
You could also go with Mekhi Becton (#13, 6.98) or Denzel Mims (#18, 6.39) here, who most likely will not be studs straight out of the gate despite possessing tantalizing long-term potential.
Most underrated: Steve McLendon (#16, 6.68)
McLendon may have some regression in his future as he enters the season at 34 years old, but his 2019 season was fantastic. I think he had a good case to be the team’s second-best player.
In his 10th NFL season, McLendon elevated from a great run-stuffer to a dominant all-around player. Still taking on a situational role as he appeared on 42.2% of the defensive snaps, McLendon was obliterating his matchups on a consistent basis in any situation. It was his progress as a rusher that took him to another level. Never before a considerable presence in the passing game, McLendon set a career-high with 18 pressures in 2019, with his pressure rate of 8.4% ranking at the 64th percentile among qualified defensive tackles.
That progress in the passing game complimented McLendon’s as-usual fantastic run defense. He ranked sixth among defensive tackles with seven tackles for loss against the run despite ranking 51st in snaps against the run (226). Pro Football Focus scored McLendon with a run defense grade of 81.3 that ranked eighth out of 104 qualified tackles (93rd percentile).
When you turn on the film, McLendon was even more impactful than his excellent production suggested. He picked a considerable amount of overwhelming victories at the line of scrimmage that created space for teammates to pick up easy tackles.
Pro Football Focus scored McLendon with a 79.8 overall grade that ranked 11th out of 104 qualified tackles (90th percentile). Few other players at the position were able to balance productivity in both phases like McLendon did, while also providing silent impact that flew beneath the nose of the stat-sheet.
I see six players ranked above McLendon by the fans that I would have had below him on my list.
Tier 1 (average rating of 7.0 or higher)
The top tier includes 12 players who received an average rating of 7.0 or higher.
Before getting into the most overrated and underrated players in this tier, I think the fans deserve credit for keeping their emotions out of the equation and giving Jamal Adams the score he rightfully deserves. Only one salty fan gave him a zero, while 97% used common sense and gave him a nine or ten (I think he is a clear ten, but a solid 80.5% agreed, so I digress).
Most overrated: Sam Darnold (#5, 7.86)
Darnold’s results were among the most polarizing.
I’m as big of a Darnold backer as anyone – hey, I listed 100 reasons to believe in him – but a score of nearly 8.0 is a bit high here.
This very well could be the year that Darnold breaks out, especially if the offensive line delivers a solid season, but personally, I would have kept my expectations a bit tempered and voted for a six. Although Darnold certainly has 8-10 potential, I think it is most likely that he first ascends to a 6-7 level (above-average, top 10-16 range) and then takes another leap to reach elite status within the following few seasons, rather than jumping straight from his early-career woes to superstardom in one season.
I will cut the fans some slack here. The fact that 16.5% voted for a 10 – 6.5% more than a 9 – shows that many were probably reluctant to be too hard on their franchise quarterback. That’s forgivable. Will their faith be rewarded? Only time will tell.
Most underrated: None
I have to say, the fans sorted out the top tier rather fairly. Besides the slight overabundance of Darnold love, there is nothing too egregious here.
Chris Herndon (#10, 7.17) and Quinnen Williams (#12, 7.11) have the potential to soar into the top-5, and I think one or both just might do it, but their No. 10 and No. 12 rankings are a fair middle ground that projects progression while not approaching too closely to their ceilings.
Here is a look at the composite scores for offensive and defensive players, as well as the averages for a few key position groups (excluding quarterback and special teams).
Here are the most common players to receive each score.
- 0: Sam Ficken (16 votes), James Morgan (12), Jonotthan Harrison (11), Brian Winters (10), Josh Doctson (7), Harvey Langi (7), Daniel Brown (7)
- 1: James Morgan (35), Jonotthan Harrison (21), Daniel Brown (18), Sam Ficken (15), Harvey Langi (14)
- 2: James Morgan (43), Harvey Langi (35), Daniel Brown (33), Jordan Willis (33), Trevon Wesco (27)
- 3: Daniel Brown (56), Josh Doctson (56), Trevon Wesco (52), Harvey Langi (51), Jonotthan Harrison (46)
- 4: Nate Hairston (59), Trevon Wesco (56), Chuma Edoga (56), Josh Doctson (55), Frankie Luvu (53), Quincy Wilson (53), Jabari Zuniga (53), Tarell Basham (53)
- 5: La’Mical Perine (73), Patrick Onwuasor (62), Arthur Maulet (60), Neville Hewitt (60), Alex Lewis (60), Henry Anderson (58), Frank Gore (58), Blake Cashman (57), Bryce Hall (57), Joe Flacco (56), Ashtyn Davis (56), George Fant (55), Brian Winters (54), James Burgess (54), Greg Van Roten (52), Vyncint Smith (51)
- 6: Breshad Perriman (82), Blessuan Austin (77), Greg Van Roten (73), Pierre Desir (70), Ryan Griffin (63), Jordan Jenkins (63), Denzel Mims (60), Alex Lewis (58), Henry Anderson (56), Ashtyn Davis (55), George Fant (55), Steve McLendon (54), Nathan Shepherd (53), Foley Fatukasi (52), Quinnen Williams (52), Kyle Phillips (51), Frank Gore (50)
- 7: Jamison Crowder (86), Avery Williamson (79), Connor McGovern (78), Jordan Jenkins (74), Chris Herndon (70), Marcus Maye (66), Foley Fatukasi (64), Blessuan Austin (63), Mekhi Becton (61), Pierre Desir (58), Steve McLendon (58), Quinnen Williams (58), Ryan Griffin (53), Sam Darnold (52), Breshad Perriman (52), Denzel Mims (51)
- 8: Marcus Maye (80), Brian Poole (78), Jamison Crowder (74), Sam Darnold (69), Le’Veon Bell (66), Avery Williamson (62), Chris Herndon (62), Connor McGovern (59), Quinnen Williams (52), Mekhi Becton (48)
- 9: C.J. Mosley (98), Le’Veon Bell (58), Brian Poole (47), Jamal Adams (33), Marcus Maye (32), Braden Mann (24), Thomas Hennessy (23), Sam Darnold (20)
- 10: Jamal Adams (161), C.J. Mosley (55), Thomas Hennessy (48), Braden Mann (47), Sam Darnold (33), Le’Veon Bell (27)
Which players do you think are the most properly rated, overrated, and underrated by the fanbase?
Very nice breakdown of this roster. Impressive methodology.