Ranking every New York Jets player from worst to best
With four days remaining until the New York Jets kick off their 2021 season, it’s time to rank every player on the roster from worst to best.
We will be including all 53 players on the current active roster (as of the morning of Sept. 8) in addition to the following four players who are currently sidelined: Jamison Crowder, Jarrad Davis, Ashtyn Davis, and Conor McDermott.
This ranking is based on how large of an impact each player is capable of making in 2021 – not accounting for long-term potential or past performance. How much can this player help me win a game today? That is the primary question behind this pecking order.
57. QB Mike White
Mike White had a poor preseason in which he averaged only 5.9 yards per pass attempt. He owns a career average of 5.3 yards per attempt in the preseason over 166 throws.
56. OT Chuma Edoga
Chuma Edoga shows occasional flashes of raw talent but ultimately is an abysmal pass protector and extremely penalty-prone. He has allowed eight sacks and been called for 11 penalties over just 656 career offensive snaps.
55. TE Daniel Brown
Daniel Brown does not bring a signature skill to the table. He struggles as a blocker and does not produce as a receiver. While he has been trusted to play a big role on special teams, his production in that phase as a blocker and tackler has not been great, either.
54. CB Isaiah Dunn
The Jets must see something in Isaiah Dunn, as they handed him the largest sum of guaranteed money out of anyone in their undrafted free agent class. He struggled in two preseason appearances, though, missing two tackles and allowing 83 yards over six targets.
Dunn is one of three players who remain in the mix to start at cornerback. The fact that the No. 54 player on this list might be a starter is an alarming signal of how weak the Jets are at cornerback.
53. LB Quincy Williams
I pushed Quincy Williams up a few spots thanks to his potential as a former third-round pick, but he might have the worst track record of any player on the roster. No qualified linebacker missed tackles at a higher frequency than Williams from 2019-20. He whiffed on 23.3% of his tackle opportunities.
52. OT Conor McDermott
Conor McDermott begins the season on injured reserve with a knee injury. He has been a well-below-average backup tackle in his career.
51. TE Ryan Griffin
Ryan Griffin looked useless in 2020 after undergoing ankle surgery. He played in 15 games and participated in 26.1 snaps per game but could only muster up 5.7 receiving yards per game. That’s problematic for a tight end who is not known for his blocking.
50. CB Jason Pinnock
Jason Pinnock is another candidate to start at cornerback. He had a solid preseason, forcing a fumble on one of the only two catches that he allowed and providing good support against the run.
49. WR Jeff Smith
Jeff Smith has impressive short-area quickness and is fit to fill Elijah Moore’s shoes as the Jets’ go-to motion man and screen-game weapon if the rookie goes down. However, the converted quarterback needs to substantially improve the fundamental aspects of his wide receiver skills after a brutal 2020 season that saw him average 4.5 yards per target.
48. DT Jonathan Marshall
Sixth-round pick Jonathan Marshall (a byproduct of the Sam Darnold trade after the Jets used Carolina’s sixth-round pick in an ensuing trade) is an unbelievable athlete with immense potential. He showed pass-rushing upside in the preseason but needs an enormous amount of work on his run defense.
47. IOL Dan Feeney
Dan Feeney’s versatility is a plus. He can play all three interior positions on the offensive line and is currently set to be the Jets’ primary backup for all of those positions with no other backup interior offensive lineman on the roster.
Feeney just isn’t good, though. He allowed more pressures than any other interior offensive lineman in the NFL over the past three seasons (128) and is not an effective run blocker.
46. DE Tim Ward
Recently claimed off waivers via Kansas City, Tim Ward is an interesting wild card on the Jets’ defensive line. He had a sack in his first and only regular season game at the end of last season and recorded three sacks in three preseason games this year.
45. LB Hamsah Nasirildeen
Hamsah Nasirildeen offers intriguing athletic tools but will likely endure growing pains as he converts from safety to linebacker in his rookie season.
44. LB Jamien Sherwood
Another safety-turned-linebacker, Jamien Sherwood falls under the same umbrella as Nasirildeen.
While Nasirildeen has significantly better athleticism than Sherwood, giving him more upside, Sherwood impressed the coaching staff enough in training camp and the preseason to earn a higher spot on the depth chart. His instincts appear to be solid.
43. RB La’Mical Perine
La’Mical Perine is a decent short-yardage back but needs to start showing more game-changing ability. He averaged 3.6 yards per carry in last year’s regular season and 2.6 yards per carry in this year’s preseason.
42. LB Blake Cashman
Blake Cashman has not stayed healthy enough to prove that he has progressed at the linebacker position since his rough rookie season. However, he is a good special teams player. He is especially impressive as a blocker for the kickoff return unit.
41. CB Brandin Echols
Brandin Echols joins Dunn and Pinnock in the mix for a starting cornerback spot opposite Bryce Hall. Echols arguably had the best preseason of the trio. He had an interception and a pass breakup while allowing just two catches for 12 yards over four targets (although he had a pass interference penalty in the end zone).
40. FS Sheldrick Redwine
Sheldrick Redwine showed promise at free safety near the end of his 2019 rookie season with the Browns before being relegated to a minimal role in 2020 and struggling.
39. K Matt Ammendola
Matt Ammendola had an excellent offseason in which he made close to 90% of his reported training camp kicks and was perfect in the preseason. He needs to prove that his offseason success was no fluke.
38. DT Nathan Shepherd
Nathan Shepherd appears to be the same player he always has been. He offers tremendous raw physical tools and parlays them into moderate pass rushing success, but his explosiveness is often used against him in the run game as he carries himself out of plays to give up running lanes.
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37. SS Sharrod Neasman
Sharrod Neasman has experience playing under Jeff Ulbrich and has proven over multiple seasons that he can come in as a backup safety and perform near a league-average level.
36. FB Trevon Wesco
Trevon Wesco is not a superstar blocker at the fullback position, but he does more good than bad. He is capable of some tremendous highlights. Consistency is the key – Wesco does have some whiffs that balance out his eye-popping victories.
Wesco also may have some untapped after-the-catch potential that could be unlocked in Mike LaFleur’s offense.
35. LB Jarrad Davis
Jarrad Davis had the most efficient season of his career in 2020 after the Lions relegated him to a No. 3 linebacker role that had him playing less than half of the defensive snaps. He must prove he can extrapolate that production over a starter’s workload once he returns from injury.
34. RG Greg Van Roten
Greg Van Roten is a decent stopgap starter. He is probably better than about a quarter of the league’s starting right guards.
Van Roten is an erratic player. In his debut Jets campaign, he was atrocious for a few games to begin the year before stabilizing and playing fairly well for the rest of the season.
33. LS Thomas Hennessy
Relative to his position, Thomas Hennessy is one of the best players on the team. Positional value is the only reason he is this low.
Hennessy is one of the absolute best long snappers in football. His snap accuracy is consistent and he gets involved in more tackles than any other long snapper.
32. SS Ashtyn Davis
Ashtyn Davis showed potential in a box role near the end of last season. I like his long-term upside in that role but am skeptical of his 2021 outlook after he missed the entirety of the offseason.
31. RB Tevin Coleman
Tevin Coleman is not consistent enough as a rusher to handle a heavy workload in that phase, but he can hit home runs every once in a while.
In the passing game is where Coleman will make his impact. He has been a reliable receiver throughout his career and should lead the Jets’ running backs in targets.
30. WR Braxton Berrios
Braxton Berrios is set to be the Jets’ kickoff returner and punt returner. He has been one of the NFL’s better punt returners over the past two seasons – what he could offer over a season-long sample in the kickoff game remains to be seen.
As a slot receiver, Berrios can be argued as average. He is a good short-area separator but does not bring much impact down the field and struggles with drops. Berrios tends to catch with his body rather than his hands, increasing drops and also limiting his ability to make contested catches.
29. WR Denzel Mims
Denzel Mims has the talent to rank much higher on this list. Unfortunately, injuries and seemingly some other issues we don’t know much about have him buried on the depth chart entering the season.
Mims’ straight-line speed after the catch can be maximized on in-breaking routes in LaFleur’s offense. His YAC ability on those types of routes was his most consistent weapon as a rookie.
Plus, Mims’ blocking ability should fit right into an offense that emphasizes blocking at the skill positions.
28. RB Josh Adams
Josh Adams was initially released and placed on the practice squad before being signed to the active roster two days ago.
It’s puzzling why Adams is not a surefire roster-caliber talent. He owns a solid career average of 4.3 yards per carry in the regular season and led Jets running backs with a mark of 5.4 in this year’s preseason.
For all of his shortcomings in the passing game (drops, pass protection), Adams is a powerful runner who churns out chunk gains on a highly consistent basis.
27. EDGE Bryce Huff
Bryce Huff is looking to build on a rookie season where he showed intermittent flashes of high-end potential as a pass rusher. He appears to be on the right track after substantially improving his pass-rush production in the preseason compared to his rookie year.
Improving as a run defender has to be another focus for Huff.
26. RB Michael Carter
Michael Carter has true RB1 potential thanks to his combination of elusiveness as a ball-carrier, efficiency as a receiver, and pass-blocking ability. He could climb to the top of this list near the end of the season, but for now, he needs to prove he can be successful in his niche role as a member of the Jets’ committee backfield.
25. P Braden Mann
Braden Mann showed massive progress in the preseason after a rocky rookie season. All three of his exhibition outings were better than the vast majority of his rookie-year games. He looks poised for a second-year leap into the top half of the league’s punters.
24. CB Michael Carter II
Michael Carter II was the Jets’ best rookie in the preseason outside of Zach Wilson. He stuck to receivers in the slot like gum on the bottom of a shoe, giving up very little noteworthy production over his three extended appearances.
23. CB Javelin Guidry
Javelin Guidry had a similarly excellent preseason to Carter II. The two young corners are both in the mix to start at nickel cornerback in Week 1.
22. CB Justin Hardee
Justin Hardee is a cornerback in name only. If all hell breaks loose, the Jets will throw him out there, but they will do everything in their power to avoid that. He is a bad cornerback.
Hardee is a star on special teams, though. He does it all. It’s not just punt coverage and kickoff coverage with him – he is an impactful blocker for the punt and kickoff return teams, too.
21. TE Tyler Kroft
I think Tyler Kroft is a fairly underrated player. He is a good blocker in both phases – run and pass – and is a decent enough receiver to get the job done.
Kroft has never been a high-volume producer, but when you study his tape, he has a lot more eye-popping plays in the passing game than you would think a guy with his numbers would have. Jets fans saw an example of that in the Packers game when Kroft scored two legitimately impressive 18-yard touchdowns in one half.
20. RT George Fant
George Fant put in a solid effort to make his case for the starting right tackle job in the preseason, although it might not be enough to beat out the more experienced and accomplished Morgan Moses. He was good (not great) in both phases.
Fant played a lot of left tackle in the preseason, suggesting that the Jets are likely preparing him to handle the team’s backup swing tackle role (backing up both right and left tackle).
19. WR Keelan Cole
Keelan Cole’s versatile profile makes him an extremely useful backup. He has played in the slot and on the outside at an even rate in his career and has had productive seasons both as a pure deep threat and as an underneath option.
18. RB Ty Johnson
Ty Johnson looks to be a great fit in the Jets’ running scheme. He has good vision on outside runs and the one-cut explosiveness to maximize the holes that open up. Johnson appears to be the favorite to lead the Jets in carries at the start of the season.
17. CB Bryce Hall
I am optimistic about Bryce Hall’s potential. His consistent air-tight coverage on Elijah Moore throughout training camp caught my attention.
Hall was a fairly average starter in his rookie season. That is a tremendous jumping-off point for a fifth-round rookie who was coming off of a major injury and did not practice as a professional until the regular season was already underway.
16. FS Lamarcus Joyner
Lamarcus Joyner has a wide range of possible outcomes. The concerns are that he will turn 31 years old this season and was a poor producer for the Raiders over the last two seasons.
On the positive side, Joyner was playing out of position at slot cornerback for the Raiders and will now be moving back to free safety, where he performed at a high level when he last played the position for the Rams in 2017 and 2018.
15. QB Zach Wilson
I think Zach Wilson will land somewhere in the 18-to-22 range among starting quarterbacks in his rookie season. That’s great for a rookie. The majority of rookie quarterbacks finish as one of the three-to-five worst starters in the NFL.
There are a couple of reasons I think Wilson will land in the upper echelon of all-time rookie campaigns.
Wilson has a strong infrastructure in place that should help him avoid having too many of the disastrous games that often define rookie seasons. His coaching staff, offensive line, and weapons are better than what most top-two picks get.
Most importantly, Wilson looks extremely ahead of schedule for a rookie quarterback from a mental standpoint.
I am going to pump the brakes on projecting Wilson to be an above-average quarterback as just a 22-year old rookie, which is why he lands down at No. 15 here. It would be too optimistic to project Wilson to be a top-16 quarterback straight out of the gate – very, very few rookies have ever done that.
With that being said, I do think Wilson will enjoy a successful season that starts his career off on the right foot.
14. EDGE Shaq Lawson
Shaq Lawson is a good starting defensive end. He has posted good numbers against the run throughout his entire career and has improved his pass-rushing consistency to an above-average level over the past two seasons.
13. C Connor McGovern
Connor McGovern is another player with a wide range of possibilities.
In 2019, he was a top-10 center for Denver.
Then, in the first half of his first season with the Jets, he graded as one of the worst centers in the NFL.
In the second half of 2020, McGovern was back up to a top-10 level.
McGovern was considered one of the league’s best run-blocking centers last year. That skill should be accentuated in a running scheme that will maximize McGovern’s athleticism. It was pass-blocking where McGovern faltered.
With a year of continuity alongside Van Roten and an upgrade at left guard from Alex Lewis and Pat Elfein to the apt and fundamentally sound Alijah Vera-Tucker, I think McGovern will be credited with significantly fewer pressures that are not entirely his fault (he got knocked with a lot of pressures on blitzes and stunts last year that were more so the fault of the guard), making his pass-blocking numbers look better.
12. LG Alijah Vera-Tucker
Alijah Vera-Tucker is a high-floor prospect who should hit the ground running. His appeal is largely based on his fundamentals, technique, awareness, and smarts. These are skills that should transfer over to the NFL smoothly.
It’s not as if Vera-Tucker is merely a high-floor guy who does not have high-upside traits. He certainly does- his athleticism is marvelous and should be fully unleashed in the Jets’ wide-zone offense. That gives him an exciting ceiling in addition to the high floor that is brought about by his less sexy traits.
11. WR Jamison Crowder
Jamison Crowder is unlikely to produce like the 11th-best player on the Jets in his diminished role, but I still think he is that good. Crowder has been a top-10 pure slot receiver over the past two seasons. He picked up 1,127 receiving yards out of a slot alignment from 2019-20, ranking seventh in the NFL over that span.
In terms of what Crowder gives the Jets on a per-rep basis, I do think he can be one of the 11 best players on the team. His ability to separate on short routes like whips, jerks, and slants is borderline elite and will provide a reliable safety blanket for Wilson in third and fourth-down situations.
Crowder’s YAC ability is also highly underrated – he consistently produces more YAC than expected.
10. DT Foley Fatukasi
Foley Fatukasi has established himself as one of the most dominant run defenders in the NFL. He has ridiculous raw strength and couples it with great snap timing and a low center of gravity to create enormous penetration. To top it off, Fatukasi is an excellent block-shedder who is able to get off of his man and finish plays himself.
As an added bonus, Fatukasi is a better pass rusher than most other nose tackles.
9. DT Sheldon Rankins
Fatukasi arguably makes a better per-play impact in his role than Sheldon Rankins, but Rankins is the better all-around defensive tackle who is more capable of handling an every-down role.
While Rankins is an average run defender, he is an excellent pass rusher who has the talent to be a star in that phase when healthy.
8. WR Elijah Moore
This is an optimistic ranking for a second-round rookie. I think it’s warranted, though.
Elijah Moore was regarded as the consensus “best player on the field” for the Jets throughout training camp, and that did not appear to be an overstatement. His route-running was remarkably sharp and his ball skills were staggering. After the catch, his shiftiness was marvelous.
Moore should also make an off-the-stat-sheet impact through the respect that he demands from teams when utilized in pre-snap motion.
7. RT Morgan Moses
Morgan Moses is coming off of a season in which Pro Football Focus ranked him as the sixth-best right tackle in the NFL.
Moses may not actually be that good. That ranking was an outlier compared to the rest of his career, and NFL teams didn’t seem to agree with it considering Moses was tossed to the side by Washington and ended up fetching a measly one-year, $3.6 million deal with a max worth of $5 million.
With all of that being said, Moses is certainly an above-average starter. The 10-to-14 range among right tackles might be a more fair range for him. He is a bit higher than that in the running game and a bit lower in the passing game.
Moses also brings experience to an offensive line that does not have any other starters with more than three seasons of experience as a full-time starter. If he wins the right tackle job over George Fant as expected, this will be his seventh consecutive season as an opening-week starting right tackle.
Durability is another plus with Moses. He has an active streak of 96 straight starts.
6. SS Marcus Maye
Marcus Maye has established himself as a legitimately good starting safety. Exactly how good is another debate – is he a star or is he just above-average? – but it cannot be debated that he is better than significantly more than half of the league’s starting safeties.
Maye projects as the Jets’ starting strong safety. He has played better as a free safety in his career, so Maye must prove that he can handle the position switch.
The good news is that a strong safety in Robert Saleh’s defense is not nearly as tethered to the box as a strong safety in Gregg Williams’ defense was. When Maye struggled at strong safety near the beginning of last season, he was playing an even more box-centric role than Jamal Adams did as a Jet.
That won’t happen under the Saleh. The “strong” and “free” safety labels mean much less in his defense – the two roles are more or less interchangeable.
5. DT John Franklin-Myers
John Franklin-Myers was an elite pass rusher last year. Only Stephon Tuitt and Aaron Donald produced pressure on a greater percentage of their pass-rush snaps than Franklin-Myers did among defensive tackles.
Franklin-Myers appears to be moving to the edge in the wake of Carl Lawson and Vinny Curry’s injuries. If he can maintain his 2020 production at the edge position, he will become even more valuable, but the possibility exists that his production could dwindle.
Even if Franklin-Myers does take a step back on the edge, it should not be too steep of a drop-off. Back in his 2018 rookie season, Franklin-Myers ranked at the 74th percentile among qualified edge defenders in pressure rate. It’s tough to see him going much lower than that considering how incredibly sharp his pass-rushing technique is.
4. WR Corey Davis
Corey Davis was one of the most efficient wide receivers in the NFL last season. He recorded a first down or a touchdown on 53.3% of his targets, the best mark among the 43 wideouts with at least 90 targets.
The test for Davis is proving he can maintain that production (or at least come close to it – that 53.3% number is mind-boggling) as the go-to guy in New York. Last year, he had A.J. Brown to play off of.
3. LT Mekhi Becton
A borderline top-10 starter as a 21-year-old rookie who was supposed to endure significant growing pains, Mekhi Becton’s potential in 2021 and beyond is limitless. He looked improved in the 2021 preseason – albeit against weaker competition.
Becton’s woeful practice performances against Carl Lawson and the Green Bay Packers’ edge rushers raise concern, but his preseason excellence helped ease those worries.
2. LB C.J. Mosley
Becton has a higher ceiling than C.J. Mosley, but Mosley has a significantly higher floor, so I’m rolling with him as the number two player on the list.
Mosley is a top-10 linebacker when healthy. Now playing in a scheme that will emphasize his overlooked skills in coverage – especially when coupled with his slimmed-down 231-pound frame – Mosley is poised for a big year that reminds the league why he was deemed worthy of an $85 million contract.
1. DT Quinnen Williams
Quinnen Williams has the best combination of a high floor and a high ceiling on the roster. He was already one of the league’s most productive players at his position last season and still has a ton of room to improve considering he is only 23 years old, has top-three-pick talent, and showed massive in-season progress within his second-year breakout campaign.
Williams led all interior defensive linemen in run stops per game last season (2.2) and ranked 12th in pressures per game (3.0).
But he looked even better as the season went on.
From Weeks 7-17 (his final 7 games out of 13), Williams ranked second in run stops per game (2.1), third in pressures per game (4.4), and second in combined run stops and pressures game (6.5), trailing only Aaron Donald.
This kid is special.