What are the strengths and weaknesses of the New York Jets’ roster going into the 2022 season?
Starting from the bottom and working our way to the top, let’s rank every offensive and defensive position group on the New York Jets roster with just one week to go until rookies report to training camp. I’m basing these rankings on my perception of how well each unit will perform in the 2022 season.
- Jordan Whitehead, Lamarcus Joyner, Jason Pinnock, Ashtyn Davis, Will Parks, Elijah Riley, Kai Nacua, Javonte Moffatt, Tony Adams
The Jets are thin at safety. Free agent signee Jordan Whitehead slides in as a reliable starter at the strong safety spot, but he is the only safety on the roster who can be counted on.
At free safety, New York is crossing its fingers in hopes that someone will emerge from a large group of wild cards.
Lamarcus Joyner was once among the league’s top-ranked free safeties, but he is 31 years old, coming off a season-ending elbow injury, and has not played a full season at free safety since 2018.
Jason Pinnock and Ashtyn Davis are younger players with the potential to break out – Pinnock seems to have the edge considering his lack of development time compared to Davis.
- C.J. Mosley, Quincy Williams, Jamien Sherwood, Hamsah Nasirildeen, Marcell Harris, Del’Shawn Phillips, DQ Thomas, Javin White
C.J. Mosley projects to be a solid starter for the Jets as he enters his thirties. Behind him, the Jets are in a similar predicament as the safety position, possessing a bevy of unproven wild cards.
Quincy Williams started 13 games for the Jets last season and flashed loads of potential as he chained together a long reel of eye-popping plays. However, those splashy plays were canceled out by a large collection of overpursued plays and missed tackles. His overall game needs improvement before he can unquestionably be considered a starter-quality player.
Williams will still be only 26 years old in August, so the Jets are hoping that more progress is in his future.
Jamien Sherwood and Hamsah Nasirildeen are 2021 day-three draft picks that will aim to take big second-year leaps after completing their first seasons at the linebacker position (following a conversion from safety). Marcell Harris comes over from San Francisco to provide depth.
- Zach Wilson, Joe Flacco, Mike White
Zach Wilson’s limitless upside puts the quarterback unit over the safety and linebacker units in my view, but Wilson’s floor is undeniably low, so I cannot rank this unit higher than some of the others on this roster just yet.
The depth of this unit is a plus. Joe Flacco is the current favorite to take the No. 2 spot. Few teams in the league could claim to have a backup better than him.
If Mike White cannot beat out Flacco, he will try to convince the Jets that they should keep three quarterbacks. White did an above-average job in relief last year, struggling through some rough games but making up for it by providing one of the best games by a backup quarterback in NFL history.
7. Tight end
- C.J. Uzomah, Tyler Conklin, Jeremy Ruckert, Trevon Wesco, Kenny Yeboah, Lawrence Cager
The Jets’ tight end group is really solid. The fact that it ranks this low is a testament to how improved the roster is.
With the additions of two starter-quality players in C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Conklin, the Jets are functional at this position for the first time in many years. Gone are the days in which the Jets’ tight ends contribute nothing in the passing game while getting steamrolled in the blocking game.
The reason I have the TE unit ranked this low is its lack of upside in comparison to other positions. This is a good crew, but I don’t see the same level of star-caliber potential that I see in other units on the roster. With that being said, this unit has one of the highest floors on the team.
6. Defensive tackle
- Quinnen Williams, John Franklin-Myers, Sheldon Rankins, Nathan Shepherd, Solomon Thomas, Jonathan Marshall, Tanzel Smart
This unit is an enigma. It features some of the best players on the roster, and at the same time, it features some of the biggest concerns on the roster.
Quinnen Williams and John Franklin-Myers have the potential to be one of the best interior duos in the league. However, the rest of this unit does not look appealing at the moment.
Sheldon Rankins was poised to be an excellent addition when he was signed in 2021, but he ended up having the worst season of his career in 2021. His run defense was a massive liability and his pass rushing was not quite as effective as it had been in previous years.
Rankins will be an integral part of this unit’s success in 2022. If Rankins is the player he was in 2021, this unit will have trouble beyond its two stars. But if Rankins can get back to his pre-2021 form, he will be a valuable piece, and the DT unit will skyrocket up this list.
Nathan Shepherd and Solomon Thomas provide pass-rush juice in situational roles. New York is hoping that the uber-athletic Jonathan Marshall can ascend in his second season.
Overall, this unit is overflowing with pass-rush talent. The run game is the question. Beyond Williams, none of these defensive tackles have proven themselves to be quality interior run defenders in the NFL. The Jets might just have to live with this weakness.
We know Williams and Franklin-Myers will provide the Jets with plenty of impact plays. This unit’s fate depends on the players behind them. Will this be a two-man show or will more contributors emerge?
5. Edge rusher
- Carl Lawson, Jermaine Johnson, Jacob Martin, Bryce Huff, Micheal Clemons, Vinny Curry, Tim Ward, Jabari Zuniga, Bradlee Anae, Hamilcar Rashed Jr.
The DT unit has an advantage over the EDGE unit in terms of its top-end talent. Williams and Franklin-Myers are a high-floor pairing, whereas Carl Lawson has major injury concerns and Jermaine Johnson is an unproven rookie.
But the EDGE group has a sizable advantage when it comes to depth. It is one of the deepest units on this roster.
With Lawson and Johnson backed up by Jacob Martin, Bryce Huff, Micheal Clemons, and Vinny Curry, the Jets are six-deep with explosive pass-rushers off the edge.
Durability is the chief concern for this group considering the combined total of 42 games lost by Lawson, Huff, and Curry in 2021. Run defense will be also something to watch – this unit is built around speed and doesn’t have a ton of bulk. Johnson projects to thrive as a run defender, but it remains to be seen if the Jets will have any other above-average run defenders in this unit.
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- D.J. Reed, Sauce Gardner, Michael Carter II, Bryce Hall, Brandin Echols, Javelin Guidry, Isaiah Dunn, Rachad Wildgoose, Justin Hardee
This cornerback group is loaded with young talent. It definitely could end up being the Jets’ best unit this year, but I’m keeping my expectations in check until we see how effective Sauce Gardner is in his rookie year. While Gardner has a high chance of becoming a star in the future, growing pains are to be expected for rookie corners.
D.J. Reed is a tremendous floor-raiser as a starting outside cornerback for this unit. He is capable of preventing opposing production at an elite level, showing off excellent fundamentals both in coverage and against the run.
Michael Carter II was already a respectable starter in the slot as a rookie and will seek to build on that foundation in his second year.
This group’s depth is intriguing. Players who started for the Jets last year are now backups. Bryce Hall and Brandin Echols made up New York’s starting duo on the outside in 2021, and now, they project to be the Jets’ fourth and fifth corners. Javelin Guidry and Isaiah Dunn willl be fighting for the sixth spot after they each started games in relief a year ago.
3. Wide receiver
- Corey Davis, Elijah Moore, Garrett Wilson, Braxton Berrios, Jeff Smith, Denzel Mims, D.J. Montgomery, Tarik Black, Calvin Jackson, Irvin Charles, Keshunn Abram
Possessing tons of upside along with some reliability, this wide receiver unit is ready to provide Zach Wilson with some quality support.
Corey Davis is a veteran presence who provides a relatively high floor. Elijah Moore flashed the potential to become a superstar during his rookie season, while Garrett Wilson’s college tape suggests he has the same type of ceiling.
Braxton Berrios is a worthy target for the No. 4 spot on the depth chart. To boot, he offers plenty of value as a versatile gadget weapon.
Questions begin to arise after Berrios. Regardless, this group’s top-four has the potential to be one of the best WR quartets that New York has had in a very long time.
2. Running back
- Michael Carter, Breece Hall, Tevin Coleman, Ty Johnson, La’Mical Perine, Zonovan Knight, Nick Bawden
The one-two punch of Michael Carter and Breece Hall could be the best duo on the Jets roster this year.
Carter was already one of the Jets’ best players in 2021, racking up 964 yards from scrimmage in 14 games and establishing himself as one of the most elusive running backs in the NFL.
Hall comes in with the chance to be an instant star. Running back is one of the easiest positions for a rookie to have success in the NFL; we see rookies come in and play at an elite level on a yearly basis. Hall’s blend of tantalizing traits should transfer to the pros from day one.
Tevin Coleman is a solid third option. Ty Johnson will presumably compete against La’Mical Perine and fullback Nick Bawden for the fourth spot on this depth chart.
1. Offensive line
- Tackles: Mekhi Becton, George Fant, Conor McDermott, Max Mitchell, Chuma Edoga, Greg Senat, Parker Ferguson, Grant Hermanns
- Interior: Laken Tomlinson, Alijah Vera-Tucker, Connor McGovern, Dan Feeney, Nate Herbig, Dru Samia, Ross Pierschbacher, Derrick Kelly
Yes, the Jets’ offensive line has question marks, including Mekhi Becton’s health, Alijah Vera-Tucker’s development, and the sustainability of George Fant’s 2021 breakout.
But doesn’t every position group on this team have question marks?
While New York’s O-line certainly has some red flags, it has the best combination of high-upside talent, high-floor talent, and depth of any unit on this roster. This unit has been the Jets’ number one priority since Joe Douglas entered the building, and after three years of reconstruction, the Jets have successfully put together an offensive line that looks fantastic on paper.
The Jets have three reliable veteran starters in Fant, Connor McGovern, and Laken Tomlinson. McGovern ranked as a top-10 center at Pro Football Focus last season while Tomlinson ranked as a top-five left guard and was named a Pro Bowler. Fant was one of the best pass-protecting left tackles in the NFL.
Those three guys set a high floor for the unit. Throw in the sky-high potential offered by Becton and Vera-Tucker, and you have a group with a legitimate shot to become one of the NFL’s best offensive lines.
Becton and Vera-Tucker are former top-15 picks who showed off elite potential in their rookie seasons. Both players must prove they can take the necessary steps to fulfill that potential, but their strong rookie-year foundations suggest they each have a good chance of making it happen.
The depth here is looking solid. Dan Feeney and Nate Herbig are about as reliable of a backup duo as you could ask for on the interior. The backup tackle situation is more troubling, though. Adding a veteran backup here would be wise.
Because of this unit’s concerns, I would say it probably has a slightly lower floor than a couple of the other units on New York’s roster. However, it might have the highest ceiling, and its odds of actually reaching that ceiling are realistic enough for me to consider it as the team’s greatest strength entering the 2022 season.