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New York Jets updated depth chart with incoming rookie analysis

Michael Carter, Zach Wilson, Elijah Moore
Jet X Graphic, Getty Images

The New York Jets updated depth chart after Joe Douglas’s second tremendous NFL draft looks much stronger and deeper.

“The biggest thing I want to tell you is, just remember this: This organization is going to lift you, not the other way around. It’s going to be all gas from here on out.”

With those words, a seriously exciting New York Jets era officially began.

Child’s play is over and the big-boy pants are on. The above words from head coach Robert Saleh to his new quarterback, Zach Wilson, affirmed the organization’s new era in grand style.

No longer would quarterbacks come into Florham Park, NJ thinking they had to lift an entire franchise. No longer would the coach-to-player relationship feel odd and distant. No longer would the narrative surround one singular savior.

What we witnessed after the Jets selected Wilson in the two-hole of the 2021 NFL draft was the first piece of visual evidence suggesting that every Jets’ front office and coaching role is held down by a genuine football person—with Joe Douglas and Robert Saleh leading the way.

Speaking of the general manager, Douglas has come away from the draft garnering respect and universal applause. After Wilson, the Jets’ young front office boss jumped up to snag Alijah Vera-Tucker in the 14-hole. After 14 years of frustration, Douglas has righted a wrong that ranks high on the football sin list: he’s taking care of the offensive line with premium talent.

Douglas has now drafted as many first-round offensive linemen in two years as the franchise did over the previous 14. He also quickly did what no G.M. could do since John Abraham’s arrival and eventual departure in 2005: acquire a legitimate edge rusher (Carl Lawson).

Things are looking up in Jets land, and this is especially the case when viewing the updated depth chart.

HOUSTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 16: Zach Wilson #1 of the BYU Cougars is tackled near the goal line by Grant Stuard #0 of the Houston Cougars and Gervarrius Owens #32 in the first half at TDECU Stadium on October 16, 2020 in Houston, Texas.
(Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

Jets Quarterbacks

  1. Zach Wilson – Round 1, No. 2
  2. Mike White
  3. James Morgan

Is Zach Wilson’s world and everybody else is simply along for the ride. Joe Douglas has officially his wagon to Wilson’s star, yet, as noted at the top, the kid’s success will ultimately come down to the overall environment that surrounds him.

I’ve personally been on board with this selection since early February and thought it was obvious Douglas would go this route. Not only does the Sam Darnold trade and Wilson route give the Jets much more cap flexibility over the next several years, but the incoming kid is just a flat-out better quarterback as well.

It’s no secret: Darnold has trouble in many of the mental areas of quarterbacking. He sometimes gets lost pre-snap and rarely reads defensive leverage well. Wilson, on the other hand, is a football/film maniac.

He’s also entering the league having played in a pro-style offense at BYU. Sure, at times he’ll gamble a little too much for one’s liking, and yes, the competition he faced wasn’t elite, but the impact he made in Provo, UT is much more significant than that of Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields—who both stepped on campus with a National Championship-made team. Wilson helped a 4-9 squad to back-to-back winning seasons prior to his unreal 2020 campaign that featured an 11-1 mark.

Being aware of the one-year wonder is important. Being aware of the guy who makes significant improvements throughout his career is equally critical. Wilson is quick in everything he does. He’s equipped with fast hands, great feet and an other-worldly release. His velocity variety is incredible, as is his anticipation. Basically, Wilson’s traits are much more translatable than any other quarterback in his class.

Mike White and James Morgan work well in the room on 1 Jets Drive, but a veteran backup is still sorely needed.

Michael Carter
Getty Images

Jets Running Backs

  1. Michael Carter – Round 4, No. 107
  2. Ty Johnson
  3. Tevin Coleman
  4. La’Mical Perine
  5. Josh Adams
  6. Pete Guerriero

Michael Carter in the fourth round might be my favorite of all the 2021 selections, and it’s a shocker considering I’ve oftentimes been called “anti-running back.” From the same man who told the Jets to not sign Le’Veon Bell two years ago comes the stamp of approval here.

Why? Well, it’s simple: value.

There are certain positions in which value always has to be the play, and running back is one. And Carter at pick No. 107 is incredible value for Douglas and company.

At 5-foot-8, Carter may be short in stature, but he can do everything. He can play the featured role, catch the ball out of the backfield and pass protect. Head coach Robert Saleh called Carter an “incredible talent,” and it shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody when he’s starting in Week 1. (Although, he will have to fight his way up the depth chart during the summer.)

The running back group is suddenly deep. Speedster Ty Johnson, veteran Tevin Coleman, who understands the wide-zone scheme well, and second-year back La’Mical Perine provide LaFleur with plenty of options in 2021.

Jets Fullbacks

  1. Trevon Wesco

I’m comfortable enough in calling Tevon Wesco a fullback at this point. While he’ll still be labeled a tight end, for all intents and purposes, he is the fullback/H-back. And in LaFleur’s offense, he should expect a heavy snap percentage this coming season.

Jets Tight Ends

  1. Chris Herndon
  2. Tyler Kroft
  3. Ryan Griffin
  4. Daniel Brown
  5. Kenny Yeboah – UDFA
  6. Connor Davis

Chris Herndon turned out to be one of the biggest winners from the Jets draft. Douglas didn’t snag one tight end in the draft. Then again, Ole Miss product Kenny Yeboah has a shot to make the team as an undrafted free agent.

At one point, Yeboah was projected to be drafted as high as the fourth round. It didn’t happen for him, but now the kid has a shot to produce as a vertical threat in New York. He’s not much of a blocker, at least not right now.

Tyler Kroft is a serviceable second tight end who can block and catch passes in a LaFleur offense expected to utilize 12 personnel plenty. What the future holds for veteran Ryan Griffin remains to be seen.

Elijah Moore
(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

Jets Wide Receivers

  1. Corey Davis (Z)
  2. Denzel Mims (X)
  3. Jamison Crowder (H-SLOT)
  4. Elijah Moore – Round 2, No. 34
  5. Keelan Cole
  6. Braxton Berrios
  7. Vyncint Smith
  8. Jeff Smith
  9. Lawrence Cager
  10. Josh Malone
  11. Josh Doctson
  12. Jaleel Scott
  13. Manasseh Bailey
  14. D.J. Montgomery

Interestingly, wide receiver is starting to creep near running back in terms of value. Football, both at the collegiate and professional level, is so pass-heavy these days that receivers are a dime a dozen. While that’s true, Douglas not passing up Elijah Moore at No. 34 was a wise decision.

As great as the top-three guys look on paper, it was not a complete trio. A guy who can threaten the defense’s edge was sorely missing—a necessity in today’s NFL.

Look at Kansas City; the stunning success of the wildcat eventually led to the read-option, which has now led to every team utilizing jet-motion. Offensive coordinators couldn’t dream of doing this decades ago, as receivers and quarterbacks wouldn’t live to play another down. Thanks to today’s softer version of football, it’s possible on a regular basis.

Elijah Moore’s 4.32-second 40-yard time is just one element of his game. The kid’s an excellent route-runner who can stretch the field and line up everywhere. The former running back can even take a hand-off or two a game and return punts.

New York hasn’t had a weapon like this in ages.

Corey Davis and Denzel Mims will start on the outside while Jamison Crowder’s future remains up in the air. Keelan Cole, at this point, is a tremendous fifth wideout.

Jets Offensive Tackles

  1. Mekhi Becton (LT)
  2. George Fant (RT)
  3. Chuma Edoga
  4. Conor McDermott
  5. Parker Ferguson – UDFA
  6. Grant Hermanns – UDFA
  7. Teton Saltes – UDFA

The tackle room remains the same—save for a trio of undrafted free agents. Whether all three can play tackle the next level remains to be seen.

Teton Saltes may have the best chance, as his agility and feet might provide him a leg up on the competition this summer. He’s a former defensive lineman who’s extremely athletic. When late in drafts or signing undrafted kids, the goal is upside, and this kid has that.

Alijah Vera-Tucker
(Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Jets Interior Offensive Linemen

  1. Alijah Vera-Tucker (LG) – Round 1, No. 14
  2. Connor McGovern (C)
  3. Greg Van Roten (RG)
  4. Alex Lewis
  5. Dan Feeney
  6. Cameron Clark
  7. James Murray
  8. Corey Levin
  9. Tristen Hoge – UDFA

No, Douglas did not get “had” in the deal to move up for Alijah Vera-Tucker. Parting with the No. 23 pick and both of his third-rounders, the Minnesota Vikings may have edged the Jets out by a few points on the draft value chart, but it doesn’t matter if AVT is what the Jets think he is.

Considered one of the draft’s safest selections, Vera-Tucker is an excellent pass protector who should excel in the wide-zone scheme. Credit Douglas for addressing offensive line early in both of his first two drafts. He and Mekhi Becton on the left side looks pretty damn frightening.

The right guard battle this summer should be an interesting one. Cameron Clark’s prospects suddenly look better considering Douglas didn’t snag a second guard in the draft.

Jets Interior Defensive Linemen

  1. Quinnen Williams (3-TECH)
  2. Foley Fatukasi (1-TECH)
  3. Sheldon Rankins
  4. Nathan Shepherd
  5. Jonathan Marshall – Round 6, No. 207
  6. Tanzel Smart
  7. Michael Dwumfour – UDFA

Jonathan Marshall is a solid athlete. Running a 4.81-second 40-yard dash while playing nose tackle makes his upside interesting. Whether or not he can man down the 1-technique is a question.

As a whole, Saleh has to be happy with the interior of his defensive line. With Quinnen Williams, Foley Fautaski and Sheldon Rankins, it’s as deep as any IDL group in the league.

Jets Edge Players

  1. Carl Lawson
  2. John Franklin-Myers
  3. Vinny Curry
  4. Bryce Huff
  5. Kyle Phillips
  6. Jabari Zuniga
  7. Sharif Finch
  8. John Daka
  9. Hamilcar Rashed Jr. – UDFA

Hamilcar Rashed Jr. will have a serious fight on his hands this summer, for this isn’t the edge defender group of Jets yesteryear. Instead, it looks scary.

Carl Lawson, John Franklin-Myers and Bryce Huff is just the beginning. Plus, the four-man rush’s versatility is astounding. JFM and Kyle Phillips can kick inside in any subpackage, leaving the opposite edge to Lawson open for Curry, Huff or even Jabari Zuniga to fill.

Jamien Sherwood
(Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

Jets Linebackers

  1. C.J. Mosley (MIKE)
  2. Jarrad Davis (SAM)
  3. Blake Cashman (WILL)
  4. Del’Shawn Phillips
  5. Jamien Sherwood – Round 5, No. 146
  6. Hamsah Nasirildeen – Round 6, No. 186
  7. Noah Dawkins
  8. Milo Eifler – UDFA

It’s a new Jets era. It’s also a new NFL era. Smaller, speedier players are taking over, and that means downsizing the linebacker spot.

Both Jamien Sherwood and Hamsah Nasirildeen played safety in college. They’ll also both convert to linebacker in Saleh’s scheme. Considering how light the Jets are at linebacker, each will have a shot to start immediately—only the oft-injured Blake Cashman currently stands in their way.

Saleh is a defensive coach who doesn’t mind leaving his base defense on the field against 11 personnel at times. It remains to be seen how Jeff Ulbrich feels about that, but nonetheless, the Jets needed coverage-type linebackers to help this unit excel in a pass-happy, speed-filled NFL.

C.J. Mosley’s return is a welcomed sight, but no football player can be counted upon after missing two years. And Jarrad Davis’s first season in New Jersey comes with major question marks.

As a whole, this position is probably filled with the most questions.

Jets Cornerbacks

  1. Bryce Hall (OUTSIDE)
  2. Bless Austin (OUTSIDE)
  3. Javelin Guidry (SLOT)
  4. Lamar Jackson
  5. Michael Carter II – Round 5, No. 154
  6. Corey Ballentine
  7. Jason Pinnock – Round 5, No. 175
  8. Brandin Echols – Round 6, No. 200
  9. Justin Hardee
  10. Isaiah Dunn – UDFA
  11. Kyron Brown
  12. Zane Lewis

After selecting four straight offensive studs, Douglas closed it out with six straight defensive players, five of which play either linebacker or cornerback.

Michael Carter II should compete with Javelin Guidry for the starting slot cornerback spot immediately. He not only has the frame to fill out the spot, but he has the attributes as well. Carter’s 4.32-second 40-yard time is impressive, as is the fact that he can also play free safety when called upon.

Pittsburgh cornerback Jason Pinnock serves as a prototypical outside corner in Saleh’s defense (a lankier 6-foot, 200+ pound guy). Brandin Echols is a guy who can play both inside and outside, while Isaiah Dunn received a record-breaking deal worth $160,000 in a fully guaranteed base salary and a $25,000 signing bonus.

Cornerback should be a fun battle in July and August.

Jets Safeties

  1. Marcus Maye (FS)
  2. Lamarcus Joyner (SS)
  3. Ashtyn Davis
  4. Bennett Jackson
  5. Elijah Campbell
  6. Jordyn Peters – UDFA
  7. Brendon White – UDFA
  8. J.T. Hassell
  9. Saquan Hampton

Jordyn Peters and Brendon White are both undrafted free agents who will have their work cut out for them. It’s possible one of them could snag a fifth safety spot in camp, but it’ll be tough, especially with the returning Bennett Jackson.

The big question at safety revolves around Marcus Maye’s running mate. Who will it be, young Ashtyn Davis or wily veteran Lamarcus Joyner?

Jets Special Teams

  • Sam Ficken (K)
  • Chase McLaughin (K)
  • Chris Naggar (K) – UDFA
  • Braden Mann (P)
  • Thomas Hennessy (LS)

When Chris Naggar isn’t posting hilarious tweets, he’s kicking 71-yard bombs. We already know Braden Mann and Thomas Hennessy’s jobs are safe, but kicker is another story. Perhaps the undrafted rookie has a shot.

New York Jets Depth Chart

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3 years ago

Excellent piece Sabo! So much to be excited about. As far as guys already on the team I’m excited about Berrios, Wesco and Ty Johnson in then new offense. New guys – Yeboah and of course Elijah Moore and Michael Carter. Defense? forget it…the competition is going to be sick. If one of the 30 candidates I think we’ll have for starting RG pans out…who knows, maybe we win 8 or 9 games. Seriously.

Michael Nania
3 years ago
Reply to  Jimjets

Berrios is interesting, I go back and forth about whether I think he is underrated or if he isn’t very good. But the fact that he’s their 6th-best WR right now says a lot about how deep the group is. He can definitely be an adequate No. 4 on most teams. Near the end of last season he did a great job with a very small role, making plays almost every time he was on the field. That’s no exaggeration: on exactly half of the snaps in which he was sent out for a passing play over the final 5 weeks, he made a catch. So, maybe that limited role is what best suits him.

3 years ago
Reply to  Michael Nania

I think he’s good. A good piece of the meal but not the main course. When Wesco was drafted Baldy said he was gonna be a poor mans Gronk. I just don’t think Gase knew how to use the talent he did have. I don’t think LaFleur will have that problem