An NFL-best four New York Jets appeared on Pro Football Focus’ list of the best active interior defensive linemen.
The New York Jets were well represented on Pro Football Focus’ ranking of the top 32 active interior defensive lineman in the game released on Tuesday.
Quinnen Williams leads the way at No. 14, followed by Foley Fatukasi (27th), Sheldon Rankins (28th), and John Franklin-Myers (30th). Aaron Donald of the Los Angeles Rams tops the list, with Chris Jones and Cameron Hayward rounding out the top three.
Williams is currently working off a foot injury suffered during an on-field workout at the Jets’ facility but continues to earn praise for his breakout performance in 2020. It was a year that saw him earn 55 tackles and a team-best seven sacks.
“A 67.4 overall grade as a rookie in 2019 was disappointing given that context, but there was a clear second-year leap this past season,” Ben Linsey writes in his analysis of Williams, the third overall pick of the 2019 draft. “The Alabama product improved his PFF grade to 81.4 in 2020, recording the highest run-stop percentage of any qualifying interior defender in the NFL. He’ll be a key piece of first-year head coach Robert Saleh’s defense.”
New York returnees Fatukasi and Franklin-Myers also posted career-best numbers last season. Linsey notes that Donald, Calais Campbell, and Mike Purcell are “the only interior defenders to grade higher than Fatukasi as a run defender on a per-snap basis since 2019”. As for Franklin-Myers, Linsey is excited about his pass-rushing abilities, noting that “(t)he only interior defenders with a higher pass-rush win rate than Franklin-Myers in 2020 (17.5 percent) were Donald, Jones, and Javon Hargrave”.
As for Rankins, one of the Jets’ newcomers via free agency, his placement relies on projection, as the former New Orleans Saint has been besieged by injuries. Linsey prophesizes satisfaction from the Jets if the first-round pick can regain the form he displayed in 2018, when he tallied 40 tackles and eight sacks.
Of note, former Jet Sheldon Richardson appears right behind Franklin-Myers in the 31st slot. Richardson, who is currently a free agent (one of two on the list with Jurrell Casey), spent the last two seasons of his career with the Cleveland Browns. He began his career with the Jets as a first-round pick (13th overall) in 2013.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags
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