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NY Jets’ defensive line preview 2021: Locked and loaded

Quinnen Williams and Carl Lawson headline a NY Jets group that's now the strength of the team, the defensive line.
Quinnen Williams, Carl Lawson, NY Jets Image, Jet X Graphic, Getty Images

Quinnen Williams and Carl Lawson headline the group

The 2021 New York Jets defensive line is the strongest position group on the team.

General manager Joe Douglas added talent and depth in free agency while simultaneously retaining key pieces. With their new coaching staff and inexperienced players in the secondary, the defensive line will have to set the tone for the rest of the defense.

Former third-overall pick Quinnen Williams is looking to establish himself as an elite player after a breakout second year.

Williams finished 2020 with 55 tackles, 10 tackles for loss and seven sacks in 13 games last season. He was stout in run defense and constantly threatened quarterbacks when called upon to do so. Under new head coach Robert Saleh, Big Q is primed to become one of the best defensive tackles in the game—if he can remain healthy.

The Jets’ seemingly endless need for an edge rusher was finally addressed when they signed Carl Lawson.

Lawson is an explosive edge rusher with the speed, power and technique that challenges any blocker. While his sack totals have never been eye-popping, his pressure numbers have ranked amongst the top of the league.

In Saleh’s attack-heavy scheme, Lawson’s sack numbers should improve drastically.

The support group: John Franklin-Myers, Vinny Curry, Sheldon Rankins, Foley Fatukasi and more

Williams and Lawson are the headliners, but the support group deserves recognition as well.

John Franklin-Myers and Foley Fatukasi both return after strong 2020 seasons. Vinny Curry and Sheldon Rankins were brought in as free agents to round out the group’s now-outstanding depth. With multiple players capable of playing various positions, the possibilities are endless.

The Oklahoma Drill Podcast continues its position preview series with the defensive line. The hosts break down the top-six players of the group and notable backups, while also providing 2021 season outlooks.

The Jets have always taken pride in the trenches for decades, stretching back to the days of Mark Gastineau and Joe Klecko in the 1980s, and Gerry Philbin and John Elliott before that.

In 2021, the New York Jets have every opportunity to reclaim that glory—especially on the defensive side of the ball.

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