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These promising NY Jets players could become stars in 2024

Joe Tippmann
Joe Tippmann, Getty Images

The New York Jets have several promising players who could break out

If the New York Jets had to choose one Williams brother to be a first-team All-Pro in 2024, no one would have chosen Quincy. The linebacker came out of nowhere to be one of the Jets’ most important defensive contributors. (That takes nothing away from Quinnen, who easily could have been an All-Pro himself.)

Jermaine Johnson‘s breakout was less shocking given his first-round pedigree. Still, after three games of nonexistent production, Johnson also became a focal point of the Jets’ defense, eventually making the Pro Bowl as a replacement.

While the Jets’ draft picks will be the focus of discussion until training camp, the rookie learning curve means those players are less likely to break out than to show promise. Meanwhile, the players the Jets currently have on their roster have some seasoning, giving them a bigger chance of reaching their potential in 2024.

Garrett Wilson and Breece Hall don’t count in this exercise. Both players have solidified themselves as stars, even if they haven’t quite reached their ceilings yet. They certainly have a chance to do so in 2024 with Aaron Rodgers at the helm. Still, we’re looking for players below that threshold.

With that in mind, which Jets players have the best chance to break out in 2024?

C Joe Tippmann

The Jets gave Joe Tippmann a heavy vote of confidence by drafting him over John Michael Schmitz, who was widely considered the best center prospect in the draft. The stakes of that decision rose when the crosstown rival Giants selected Schmitz 14 picks later. In Year 1, though, Tippmann vindicated the Jets’ decision with solid play amidst chaotic offensive line turnover and a position change of his own.

As Michael Nania detailed, Tippmann played as an average center in Year 1. He ranked 13th out of 32 qualified centers in pressure rate and 18th in Pro Football Focus run-blocking grade. Although he was above average at guard as opposed to average at center, Tippmann showcased his superior movement skills at both positions. With the Jets’ likely switch to a gap-blocking scheme, he will get an opportunity to showcase his ability as a puller, which was the top skill on his college tape.

With some more stability along the offensive line, Tippmann has a chance to ascend in Year 2. Playing next to John Simpson and Alijah Vera-Tucker can make a big difference for him, as well as having Rodgers calling the protections. After making the PFWA All-Rookie team in Year 1, the Jets center may be poised for a breakout.

S Tony Adams

Early in training camp in 2023, Robert Saleh admitted that the “cat was out of the bag” with Tony Adams. Adams did not necessarily justify the hype, showcasing promise in some areas but ultimately falling below average statistically. His biggest problem was poor tackling angles, resulting in a 15.3% missed tackle rate that ranked in the 19th percentile for the position. He contributed to some big run plays by failing to scrape over the top properly. His 8.5 yards per target allowed was also worse than average (36th percentile).

Still, Adams displayed glimpses of his potential. His 2.6% defensive stop rate (tackles that constitute a failure by the offense) ranked in the 76th percentile, and his -2 TD-INT margin was in the 92nd. His 52% coverage success rate was in the 55th percentile, and his -0.07 EPA target was in the 65th.

Furthermore, Adams showed plenty of promise in covering tight ends. Although he allowed 7 of 12 receptions for 79 yards, his 66.7% coverage success rate tied for 5th out of 75 qualified safeties (min. 40 tight end coverage snaps). His -0.72 EPA per target allowed to the position ranked 6th.

With another year of seasoning and playing opposite a much better safety in Chuck Clark, I believe we will see another jump from Adams. Whether he becomes a star or not remains to be seen, but he has the potential to do it.

EDGE Will McDonald

Many Jets fans have labeled Will McDonald a bust after the Jets’ trade for Haason Reddick. While I maintain that picking him was a mistake, it’s not due to a lack of potential. I believe McDonald will force his way onto the field in his second season.

After a slow start, McDonald picked things up as the 2023 season progressed. His 11 pressures on 58 pass rush snaps over his final nine games (18.7% pressure rate) was not far off from Bryce Huff’s 21.9% rate over the same span in 2022 (albeit on 96 snaps). Jets fans were perfectly willing to extrapolate dominance for Huff over a larger sample. Why not McDonald?

Furthermore, McDonald outperformed Jermaine Johnson as a pass rusher in their respective rookie seasons. His 16% pass rush win rate dwarfed Johnson’s 11% rate in 2022 (and his 12.4% rate in 2023, for that matter). They had nearly identical pass rush win rates on true pass sets — 22.7% vs. 22.9% on almost the same number of reps (47 vs. 50). If the Jets were willing to increase Johnson’s snap count significantly based on below-average pass rush production as a rookie, what about McDonald?

If the answer is concern run defense concerns, McDonald showed that he can hold his own. His 63.2 PFF run defense grade ranked 59th out of 121 qualified edge defenders (min. 82 run defense snaps). Reddick had a 64.0 run defense grade, and the players profile similarly. Despite the small sample, McDonald did far more with his run defense reps than Huff. It’s fair to give him more reps to see what he can do.

One of the reasons the Jets loved McDonald coming out of Iowa State was his 34⅞-inch arms, ranked in the 91st percentile among edge defenders. He forced 11 fumbles in college due to his long reach. I believe we will see many game-changing plays from McDonald in 2024.

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