The New York Jets depth chart is improved yet still needs major help
It’s late March, which means perennial powerhouse St. Peter’s is doing its usual thing in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. The Jersey City studs of college basketball surprised nobody en route to becoming the first 15-seed to qualify for the Elite 8.
Of course, only the intentionally unaware or woefully ignorant cannot grasp just how sarcastic that opening paragraph reads—for the Shaheen Holloway-led Peacocks shocked the world over the last two weeks, knocking off Kentucky, Murray State and Purdue.
Those three starry-eyed dreamers who selected St. Peter’s to get this far are either related to those directly invested or decided to lay down a bold claim. And make no mistake about it: Advancing the little Jersey City college to get this far—where the clock finally struck midnight against North Carolina—was a bold move.
Announcing that the 2022 New York Jets will finish fourth in the AFC East does not fall into the same category (let alone the same universe). Yet, interestingly, there are some who can’t help but label the Jets as the fourth-best team in the division as “bold.”
Let’s stop the nonsense, shall we?
Where the Jets finish within the division isn’t the priority of the moment. Sure, 2022 represents the campaign for which Joe Douglas must yield at least some form of tangible production by way of improvement. But while in March, when Goliaths such as St. Peter’s slay Davids such as Kentucky, where New York finishes next season should not even be bandied about by anybody—let alone internet bloggers seeking extra attention.
The NFL draft hasn’t even drawn close enough to get a great feel for how the top 10 will unfold. Sheesh, free agency is still ongoing.
Now is the time for internal assessment in a way that looks forward to continuing the molding of the actual cake—rather than worrying about the fanciness that tops off the icing.
With that in mind, let’s analyze where the New York Jets depth chart currently stands in late March.
- Zach Wilson
- Mike White
- Joe Flacco
The New York Jets quarterback situation is as easy as one, two, three, A, B, C. Now that we know Halloween hero Mike White and veteran Joe Flacco are returning, Zach Wilson’s backups are firmly entrenched.
The B- grade is dished out based on potential at the starting spot and comfort at No. 2 and 3.
- Michael Carter
- Tevin Coleman
- Ty Johnson
- La’Mical Perine
- Austin Walter
Much like the quarterback situation, the team’s running back room seems pretty content as of this moment. Although the Tevin Coleman re-signing helps this Mike LaFleur-designed offense, his health should not allow the Jets to feel totally comfortable.
Don’t be surprised to see Douglas add another running back at some point this offseason, especially in the NFL draft.
Michael Carter has a chance to become a special NFL back, but reliability behind him remains a major question mark.
- Elijah Moore
- Corey Davis
- Braxton Berrios (SLOT)
- Jeff Smith
- Denzel Mims
- D.J. Montgomery
- Tarik Black
- Rodney Adams
There’s no sugarcoating it: The Jets desperately need receiver help. It’s why Douglas swung for the fences in the form of now-Miami Dolphins weapon Tyreek Hill.
Elijah Moore, Corey Davis and Braxton Berrios combine to form a fine enough trio at the top of the position group, but “fine enough” just won’t cut it. In a perfect world, Berrios as the No. 4 (the jet-motion/gadget weapon that can catch it and run it), with a stud to play opposite Davis, with Moore in the slot, is the ticket en route to Zach Wilson development.
Moreover, at least one more body (if not two) is needed for depth purposes. The C+ grade might be a generous one when depth is considered.
- Trevon Wesco
- Nick Bawden
Folks continue to sleep on Trevon Wesco as a fullback, for some strange reason. He’s an excellent run-blocker from the FB or H-back role, while Nick Bawden is a nice complement.
Perhaps the unit’s B- grade is a bit harsh, but there’s still plenty of room to grow within Mike LaFleur’s offense.
- C.J. Uzomah
- Tyler Conklin
- Ryan Griffin
- Kenny Yeboah
- Lawrence Cager
- Brandon Dillon
The depth is certainly there suddenly, as the additions of two former fifth-round selections round out the tight end room pretty nicely.
Free-agent acquisitions C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Conklin look pretty atop the tight end depth chart, as pushing Ryan Griffin and Kenny Yeboah down the list was of the utmost importance this offseason.
Does this mean tight end is now off the table in the draft? Perhaps, but not necessarily. Trey McBride is projected to go in a tough spot (based on where the Jets are picking). Plus, other major needs are more important at the moment.
- George Fant (LT)
- Mekhi Becton (RT)
- Conor McDermott
- Chuma Edoga
- Grant Hermanns
- Parker Ferguson
The only thing holding the Jets’ tackles back from an A grade is reliability. The questions surrounding Mekhi Becton—both injury-wise and off-the-field social media noise—force a B+ grade here.
The Jets have already announced that the left tackle job will be an open competition this summer, which means George Fant has a chance to steal the job from Becton. I think that’s what will happen, and, perhaps, Douglas is already thinking about possibilities that move his first-ever draft pick (if the top-three NFL draft selections unfold in a way where Evan Neal is the choice at No. 4).
- Alijah Vera-Tucker (RG)
- Laken Tomlinson (LG)
- Connor McGovern (C)
- Greg Van Roten
- Dan Feeney
- Isaiah Williams
- Dru Samia
- Ross Pierschbacher
For the first time in a long time, the Jets’ offensive line looks ready to roll. Granted, Becton’s availability looms large, but the addition of Laken Tomlinson complements Alijah Vera-Tucker and Connor McGovern nicely.
Vera-Tucker will slide to right guard, making room for Tomlinson on the left side. If Becton moves to the right-side anchor, the two youngsters will combine as a formidable power-side of the trenches.
Even the depth inside looks solid. Dan Feeney will return, and, as of now, Greg Van Roten is also still rostered.
The IOL’s A- grade is well deserved as of this moment.
- Quinnen Williams (3-TECH)
- Sheldon Rankins (3-TECH)
- Nathan Shepherd
- Solomon Thomas
- Tanzel Smart
- Jonathan Marshall
Although there is talent in the defensive tackle room, one huge problem exists: Where’s the beef?
Quinnen Williams still hasn’t reached his full potential yet possesses all the talent in the world. Sheldon Rankins would be a nice third defensive tackle in a rotation. After that, there isn’t much.
Perhaps Tanzel Smart can turn some heads this coming summer, but a 1-tech (or two) is desperately needed.
Don’t put it past Joe Douglas to snag Georgia prospect Jordan Davis, a 341-pound defensive tackle who ran a 4.78-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. Davis can play nose tackle in the 3-4 and the 1-tech or 2i-tech in the 4-3.
Until the Jets figure out who will replace Foley Fatukasi—who was rightly allowed to walk, courtesy of the poor scheme fit—the IDL grade shows as a D.
Even if John Franklin-Myers is thrown into the mix, that’s simply yet another 3-tech in a sea of 3-techs.
- Carl Lawson
- John Franklin-Myers
- Bryce Huff
- Jacob Martin
- Kyle Phillips
- Bradlee Anae
- Tim Ward
- Jabari Zuniga
- Hamilcar Rashed Jr.
Carl Lawson’s presence will surely help, and there’s plenty of depth, but the defensive end spot deserves a B- grade at the moment.
Lawson must first prove his availability and John Franklin-Myers needs to recapture his early 2021 season success for the Jets to feel comfortable with their edge spot in 2022.
- C.J. Mosley (MIKE)
- Quincy Williams (SAM)
- Hamsah Nasirildeen (WILL)
- Jamien Sherwood
- Del’Shawn Phillips
- Javin White
Beyond an aging C.J. Mosley, the Jets linebacking group is still hurting. Quincy Williams played well in his semi-breakout season of 2021, but major help is needed.
The position’s C- grade could be labeled as a little generous, considering how poorly the unit played last year.
- Bryce Hall (LCB)
- D.J. Reed (RCB)
- Michael Carter II (SCB)
- Brandin Echols
- Isaiah Dunn
- Javelin Guidry
- Jason Pinnock
- Justin Hardee
- Rachad Wildgoose
The free-agent addition of D.J. Reed—as the right-side cornerback in Jeff Ulbrich’s defense—should provide help moving forward. Bryce Hall is already a legitimate starting NFL cornerback.
In the slot, the Jets are in pretty solid shape with Michael Carter II and Javelin Guidry, who returns after the organization activated its exclusive rights to the Utah product.
A C+ grade is fair considering much needs to still be proven and the youth makes things inconsistent at times.
- Jordan Whitehead (SS)
- Ashtyn Davis (FS)
- Lamarcus Joyner
- Elijah Riley
- Zane Lewis
- Will Parks
- Kai Nacua
- Jovante Moffat
Much like the cornerback position, Douglas added a veteran that will instantly help. Jordan Whitehead can lay the wood and play in a versatile way that this defense craves.
Who starts alongside Whitehead is anybody’s best guess right now. It could be the extremely raw Ashtyn Davis or the returning Lamarcus Joyner, who missed nearly the entire 2021 season due to injury.
Elijah Riley remains interesting, as does Zane Lewis, who played extremely well last summer, prior to a season-ending injury. So, the depth seems to be intriguing, but the top-end talent just isn’t there right now.
- Eddy Pineiro (K)
- Greg Zuerlein (K)
- Matt Ammendola (K)
- Braden Mann (P)
- Thomas Hennessy (LS)
Veteran kicker Greg Zuerlein becomes the latest contestant in the Jets’ long-running program titled, “Who will kick for us this week?” In spite of Eddy Pineiro’s strong performance late in 2021, the placekicking position remains up in the air.
Braden Mann is set for his third season, one he needs to show significant progress, whereas Thomas Hennessy is one of the most reliable long-snappers in the league.