Sauce Gardner, NY Jets, DROY, DPOY
Sauce Gardner, New York Jets, Getty Images

The New York Jets have some of the league’s best young building blocks

With rosters mostly set and no practices occurring, we are officially in the “player ranking” part of the NFL offseason.

The New York Jets have high expectations in 2023 after a decade of misery. They’ve added star quarterback Aaron Rodgers and reinforced the rest of the roster. Still, it takes more than a quarterback to win the Super Bowl.

Jets general manager Joe Douglas has built a strong core over the last four seasons. New York’s roster has been solidified to the point where two players are considered among the league’s best non-quarterback players under 26 years old. analyst Bucky Brooks listed his top 10 non-quarterback franchise building blocks and two Jets players were in the top seven.

4. CB Sauce Gardner

It’s no surprise to see Sauce Gardner on this list as he was arguably the NFL’s best cornerback in only his first season. Here are some of the accolades Gardner earned in Year 1:

  • First-Team All-Pro (Including position-high 43 first-place votes out of possible 50)
  • Defensive Rookie of the Year
  • Pro Bowl
  • Received one second-place vote and one third-place vote for Defensive Player of the Year (Only CB to receive any votes, first rookie to receive votes since at least 2000, and placed eighth in overall voting)

It’s safe to say Gardner has enjoyed a productive start to his career. Here is what Brooks had to say:

“The second-year pro quickly seized the crown last season as the premier lockdown corner in the league. Gardner’s length, athleticism, and cover skills stymie wideouts at the line of scrimmage while also shrinking the strike zone for quarterbacks attempting to chalk up completions on downfield throws in his area. With the 2022 Defensive Rookie of the Year throwing a blanket on half of the field as the NFL’s new CB1, coaches and executives should view the sophomore playmaker as an essential piece of a championship puzzle.”

At only 22 years old, Gardner could potentially be an elite cornerback for almost a decade.

The expectations are massive for Sauce in Year 2. He was the only cornerback ranked in Brooks’ top 10 and was the highest-ranked defensive back. If Gardner maintains or improves on his rookie season, then he will truly be the next island in New York.

7. DT Quinnen Williams

Quinnen Williams’ dominant 2022 season earned him a spot as the only defensive tackle on this list. After three good but inconsistent years, Williams put it all together in Year 4. The Alabama product set career highs in sacks, pressures, and pressure rate. Williams’ career year earned him plenty of praise around the NFL:

  • First-Team All-Pro
  • Pro Bowl
  • Received one first-place DPOY vote (One of four players to receive a first-place vote, ranked seventh in overall voting)

At only 25 years old, Williams has become a bonafide game wrecker and he’s only just begun to find his groove. Here is what Brooks had to say:

“The monstrous defensive tackle has become one of the elite defenders in the game as the centerpiece of the Jets’ defense and is due for a new contract before the season begins. Williams has collected 25 sacks since 2020, flashing heavy hands and elite first-step quickness. The 6-3 303-pounder is a rare athlete with an emerging set of skills as a destructive force at the line of scrimmage. As the focal point of a Jets defense that is trending upward, Williams has given the football world a sneak peek of his impact potential.”

After being selected third overall, Williams is starting to live up to his draft spot. The Jets need to extend him before training camp and start preparing for the 2023 season. With the improved talent around him, Williams should take it to another level in 2023.

The Jets’ roster is built on a strong foundation

It was not a surprise to see Gardner and Williams on this list. Both are just entering their primes and could be legitimate Defensive Player of the Year candidates in 2023.

However, they are not the only elite and young players that deserved consideration for Brooks’ list.

Garrett Wilson will make a strong case to be included after this season. As a rookie with some of the worst quarterback play in the NFL, Wilson still had 83 receptions for 1,103 yards. With Aaron Rodgers throwing him passes, Wilson could establish himself as a top 10 wide receiver.

The Jets’ roster is littered with young talent after making six first-round picks in the last three years. Even more Jets players could earn a spot on this list as they develop.

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