The New York Jets were the top-ranked AFC East squad in Pro Football Focus’s defensive line rankings heading into the 2021 season.
Far too often in recent seasons, the New York Jets‘ inclusion in top ten lists has centered around their positioning on the NFL Draft board. This time, however, the occasion is a bit more celebratory.
The Jets’ defensive line group appeared in the top ten of Pro Football Focus’ rankings leading into the 2021 season. New York came home in the seventh spot on the complete 32-team list, positioning them as the top-ranked AFC East squad and the second-best squad in the conference, behind only No. 1 Pittsburgh.
New York’s defensive line was a rare silver lining during their two-win season campaign last season. They enjoyed breakout seasons from 2019’s first-round pick Quinnen Williams (who earned a team-best seven sacks), as well as fellow young pieces John Franklin-Myers and Foley Fatukasi. Each of them ranked in the top 35 of PFF’s individual grading of interior defenders after last season.
Analyst Ben Linsey notes that the returnees are joined by several newcomers that should only bolster the New York pass rush. He’s particularly inspired by the arrival of former Cincinnati Bengal Carl Lawson. He also notes that the Jets have added reliable veteran depth options like Sheldon Rankins and Vinny Curry.
“Lawson should provide much-needed pass-rushing ability off the edge,” Linsey writes. “No edge defender graded higher as a pass rusher on true pass-rushing snaps than him in 2020.”
Lawson made his debut at the Jets’ organized team activities this week, much to the delight of his new fans.
Elsewhere in the AFC East, the New England Patriots ranked 14th on the list, while the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins came in at 17th and 28th respectively.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags