Here are some of the greatest strengths and weaknesses on the stat sheet for each of the New York Jets’ 10 draft picks in 2021.
Zach Wilson, QB
Greatest strength: Deep passing
On throws that traveled 20+ yards downfield in 2020, Wilson completed 35 of 56 attempts for 1,286 yards, 12 touchdowns, and two interceptions. Here are some of his metrics on those throws and where they ranked out of 125 qualified FBS quarterbacks:
- 131.0 passer rating: 5th
- 23.0 yards per attempt: 3rd
- 99.9 Pro Football Focus grade: 1st
- 67.9% adjusted completion percentage (accounts for drops): 2nd
Greatest weakness: Under-pressure passing
Wilson did not have bad numbers when under pressure, but he had much better rankings when he was kept clean than when he was under pressure.
Here are Wilson’s rankings from a clean pocket out of 140 qualifiers:
- 144.2 passer rating: 2nd
- 11.5 yards per attempt: 3rd
- 97.4 Pro Football Focus grade: 1st
- 84.0% adjusted completion percentage: 4th
And here are his rankings when pressured:
- 98.5 passer rating: 12th
- 8.6 yards per attempt: 16th
- 76.8 Pro Football Focus grade: 6th
- 61.5% adjusted completion percentage: 55th
So, Wilson was still one of the better quarterbacks in the country when facing pressure, but compared to everyone else, he was far more impressive from a clean pocket.
It is also a bit concerning that Wilson rarely had to face pressure at BYU. In 2020, Wilson was pressured on 21.6% of his dropbacks, the eighth-lowest rate out of 140 qualifiers.
Alijah Vera-Tucker, OL
Greatest strength: Pass protection at LG
Vera-Tucker allowed seven pressures over 590 protection snaps at left guard in the 2019 season. That’s a rate of 1.2%, which ranked at the 99th percentile among qualified FBS guards and second-best among Power-5 guards.
Greatest weakness: 2019 games against teams loaded with NFL competition
In 2019, Vera-Tucker played against two teams that had multiple defensive linemen drafted in 2020: Utah (Leki Fotu, Bradlee Anae, John Penisini) and Notre Dame (Julian Okwara and Khalid Kareem). Vera-Tucker had some trouble in those two games, posting his two worst pass blocking grades of the season (61.5 vs. Utah and 61.7 vs. Notre Dame). Across the two contests, he allowed a pressure rate of 3.9%, about five times higher than his pressure rate in all other games that season (0.8%).
Elijah Moore, WR
Greatest strength: Downfield prowess
Moore led all FBS wide receivers with 104.4 receiving yards per game on passes that traveled at least 10 yards downfield. He ranked second in the nation with 61.3 yards per game on deep targets (20+ yards downfield), trailing only Jaylen Waddle (65.8), and he also ranked second with 43.3 yards per game on intermediate targets (10-19 yards downfield), trailing only D’Wayne Eskridge.
Greatest weakness: Run game and screens
Moore’s athleticism and shiftiness make him a highly appealing weapon on designed underneath touches, but that remains a projection as he wasn’t very productive in that area at Ole Miss.
Over 21 receptions on screen passes in 2020, Moore averaged 4.3 yards per reception, placing at the 16th percentile among qualified wide receivers.
Moore had 21 rush attempts in his Rebels career, but he only gained 71 yards (3.4 per attempt) and three first downs (14.3% rate).
Michael Carter, RB
Greatest strength: Explosive runs
Carter racked up 29 carries for 15+ yards this past season, which led the country. Of Carter’s 1,245 total rushing yards on the season, 780 of them were gained on 15+ yard runs, a 62.7% portion that was the highest among running backs with at least 100 rush attempts.
Greatest weakness: Screen game production
The Tar Heels tried to get Carter going on screen plays, but the results were not good. He ranked third among running backs with 14 receptions on screen passes in 2020, but he averaged only 5.6 yards per reception on those, ranking 22nd out of the 28 running backs to see at least 10 screens thrown their way.
Jamien Sherwood, LB
Greatest strength: Tackling
Sherwood had a 16.8-to-1 ratio of tackles to missed tackles in 2020, the 14th-best mark among FBS linebackers and safeties with at least 50 total tackles. Those tackles tended to be high-quality (such as hard hits or great open-field stops), as his 91.2 tackling grade at Pro Football Focus ranked second-best among all qualified linebackers and safeties.
Greatest weakness: 2020 coverage (particularly man coverage)
Sherwood gave up a career-high average of 7.6 yards per target in 2020 after giving up an elite average of 3.5 yards per target over his first two seasons. A mark of 7.6 is fairly average, but Sherwood was a beneficiary of good luck as 26.5% of the passes thrown his way were deemed dropped or poorly thrown, a rate that was higher than 75% of the nation’s qualified linebackers and safeties.
Particularly, Sherwood had trouble in man situations, coughing up an abysmal 16.1 yards per target when covering man-to-man (113 yards over 7 targets).
Michael Carter II, CB
Greatest strength: Slot coverage
Carter II’s coverage in the slot was elite last year. When targeting Carter II out of the slot, opposing quarterbacks completed 15-of-31 (48.4%) passes for 122 yards (3.9 per target), one touchdown, and one interception. That’s a passer rating of 56.1, the lowest passer rating allowed out of the slot among the 36 defensive backs to see at least 30 targets in slot coverage.
Greatest weakness: Run defense
Carter II recorded a run stop on just 1.3% of his career snaps against the run, which is less than half of the 2020 NFL average for cornerbacks (3.1%) and is particularly disappointing since he usually lined up close to the box – slot corners tend to rack up much more production against the run.
Missed tackles in the run game were also somewhat of an issue for Carter II, as his career 4.9-to-1 ratio of tackles to missed tackles as a run defender is only slightly ahead of the 2020 NFL average for cornerbacks (4.7-to-1).
Just an added note in regards to both the tackling stat for Carter II and this article as a whole: average-level statistics should be considered weaknesses for college prospects headed to the NFL. You expect them to drop off in most areas due to the jump in competition, so ideally, you’d like to see NFL-bound prospects perform at an elite level against collegiate competition in as many areas as possible. If a guy is only “okay” at something against college players, he is probably going to be bad at it against NFL players. If a guy is elite at something against college players, his odds of sufficiently translating that skill to the pro level are much better.
Jason Pinnock, CB
Greatest strength: Press coverage experience
Pinnock played press coverage on 74.9% of his coverage snaps in 2020, the highest rate in the FBS among cornerbacks to play at least 100 coverage snaps.
Greatest weakness: Susceptibility to allowing big plays
Pinnock coughed up 24.5 yards per reception in 2020, the second-highest rate among FBS cornerbacks who allowed at least 10 catches. For his career, Pinnock allowed 15 touchdown passes, yielding five in each of the last three seasons.
Hamsah Nasirildeen, LB
Greatest strength: Coverage
In 2019, his last fully-healthy season, Nasirildeen was a force in coverage. He gave up one touchdown, two interceptions, a 68.9 passer rating, and 0.60 yards per cover snap, earning an 81.6 coverage grade at PFF that placed at the 90th percentile among qualified FBS safeties.
Greatest weakness: Blitzing
Nasirildeen created pressure on 15.1% of his career pass-rush snaps. That’s a below-average mark for a safety – comparatively, the 2020 NFL average for the position was 18.8%. Of Nasirildeen’s 13 career pressures, 11 were hurries. He only had one sack and one quarterback hit.
Blitzing isn’t too important at the safety position, but if Nasirildeen transitions to linebacker as expected, it will become a more integral part of his job.
Brandin Echols, CB
Greatest strength: 2019 season
Echols played two years at Kentucky after transferring from junior college, and those two seasons could hardly have been any different from one other. Things that were strengths in 2019 became weaknesses in 2020, and vice versa. Overall, though, his 2019 season was highly impressive while his 2020 season was poor.
Here are some of Echols’s numbers in 2019:
- 82.3 PFF coverage grade (95th percentile among CB)
- 47.4% completion percentage allowed
- 4.1 yards per target allowed
- 9 pass deflections
- 2 forced fumbles
Greatest weakness: 2020 season
Echols took a big step back in 2020:
- 66.2 PFF coverage grade (56th percentile among CB)
- 76.0% completion percentage allowed
- 8.1 yards per target allowed
- 2 pass deflections
- 0 forced fumbles
On the positive side, the 2020 season featured Echols adding some solid slot coverage onto his reel. Echols lined up in the slot on 99 snaps in 2020 after doing so on only three snaps in 2019. He performed solidly on those reps, allowing 6.9 yards per target out of the slot. Echols allowed 8.5 yards per target when covering on the outside.
Greatest strength: Two-way production
Marshall was productive in both phases for the Razorbacks in 2020, ranking sixth among FBS interior defensive linemen with 29 pressures and 12th with 20 run stops.
Greatest weakness: Performance against good offensive lines
In addition to his age (24 years old this September), it is concerning that Marshall’s performance fell off quite drastically when he played against competent offensive lines.
As a pass rusher, Marshall averaged 1.5 pressures per game over four contests against offenses that ranked top-50 out of 130 FBS teams in PFF’s pass blocking grade. He was more than twice as productive in his other six games, averaging 3.8 pressures.
Against the run, Marshall posted a 68.1 PFF run defense grade over six games against top-50 run blocking teams, while he posted a 73.6 grade in his other four games. Marshall posted each of his four lowest run defense grades of the season against top-50 run blocking teams.
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