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.