The NY Jets roster is loaded with youth. Which young prospect has the best chance to take a sizable leap in 2021?
With 19 players on the roster who were drafted by general manager Joe Douglas over the past two seasons, the New York Jets are absolutely loaded with young talent.
In 2020, Douglas drafted nine players and also signed four undrafted free agents who made the roster, each of whom remains on the team as of July 6, 2021. That gives the Jets a whopping total of 13 potential second-year breakout candidates.
Plus, the Jets have a bevy of other young players from previous drafts who could still have untapped potential, including Chris Herndon, Blake Cashman, and Blessuan Austin.
Who are the best candidates to break out in 2020?
Here are some of the prime names to keep an eye on.
CB Bryce Hall
Bryce Hall‘s rookie season has him entering the future with plenty of promise. When matched up against wide receivers, Hall allowed only 7.2 yards per target on throws in his direction, well below the combined career average of his matchups (8.1).
Hall’s coverage against tight ends can improve (Las Vegas’ Darren Waller torched him for 65 yards on five targets), and it’s too early to crown him after only seven NFL starts.
However, Hall’s rookie season was still highly impressive overall. Hall was a slightly above-average cornerback in his rookie season, which is an incredible jumping-off point for a rookie (especially one who did not get to practice until October). His Pro Football Focus coverage grade of 62.9 ranked fourth-best among rookies and placed at the 56th percentile among cornerbacks to play at least 200 defensive snaps.
WR Denzel Mims
Denzel Mims started off his rookie season with some excellent consistency. He posted at least 40 receiving yards in each of his first six career games, becoming just the sixth wide receiver in NFL history to accomplish that feat. The others: Andre Johnson, Amari Cooper, Stefon Diggs, Michael Thomas, and CeeDee Lamb.
Mims closed out the season on a cold streak, posting just 33 yards over his final three games after missing the Jets’ Week 14 game against the Seahawks due to a personal matter. He was targeted only eight times over that span, which was partially due to reasons out of his control, but also a signal that he needs to improve his route-running to completely fulfill his potential.
When you analyze the distribution of Mims’ routes in 2020, it is revealed that he actually may be a better fit in Mike LaFleur‘s offense than given credit for. He averaged a very solid 7.6 yards after the catch per reception on drag and slant routes. That YAC ability on over-the-middle routes should bode well in the Jets’ new scheme.
S Ashtyn Davis
Ashtyn Davis will likely begin the season as a situational player while Lamarcus Joyner and Marcus Maye handle the starting safety spots, but that does not mean Davis will be unable to make an impact.
With a lack of experience on the roster at linebacker and cornerback, the Jets could compensate by running a high number of three-safety sets that feature Davis on the field with the two starters.
In his rookie season, Davis was at his best when roaming around near the line of scrimmage. While he struggled with his instincts and decision-making in deep coverage, his athleticism and tenacity stood out in the box, where he could think less and play more instinctively.
If the Jets build his assignments around the strengths and weaknesses he showed as a rookie, Davis will likely be playing a role that sets him up with a lot of opportunities to make splashy plays. He will frequently be seen blitzing, manning up against tight ends, and sticking his nose in the thick of the action against the run. The chance for a breakout season will be there.
On the latest episode of the Cool Your Jets podcast, Ben Blessington and Michael Nania debate over their favorite Jets breakout candidates and a vast number of other important topics surrounding the 2021 team.