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Ranking NY Jets’ rookies in order of likely Year 1 impact

Isaiah Davis
Isaiah Davis

The New York Jets selected a combination of Year 1 contributors and future-forward picks

In an all-in season for the New York Jets, there was endless debate about which first-round prospect would be the biggest Year 1 contributor. It ultimately came down to a choice between Brock Bowers and an offensive tackle. Joe Douglas went the latter route in the belief that offensive tackle was more important for both the present and future.

Beyond the first round, the Jets made six other picks. They also brought in a cast of undrafted free agents, one of whom has a good shot to make the roster. It’s not only the first round that’s about improving the team immediately. Therefore, let’s take a look at the Jets’ rookies and rank them in order of likely Year 1 contribution.

Note that this ranking is not necessarily about how good the player is or could turn out to be, but largely about their role on the team vs. their current NFL readiness.

1. Olu Fashanu

Hear me out, Jets fans: I think Olu Fashanu will have the biggest Year 1 impact among the Jets’ rookies. Given the age and injury history of the Jets’ two tackles, Fashanu is likely to play at least six or seven games in 2024. Carter Warren played six games in 2023 and totaled 36.5% of the Jets’ offensive snaps. Replacing six games of Warren with six games of Fashanu will likely be a significant upgrade from the outset. Round 1 offensive tackles usually play at a below-average level in Year 1, which would be a massive step up from Warren’s below-replacement-level play in 2023.

Furthermore, offensive tackle is arguably the second-most important position on the offense outside the quarterback. With a 40-year-old quarterback coming off an Achilles tear, that argument holds even more strongly for the Jets. There’s a world in which this team makes a deep playoff run simply by keeping their quarterback upright. Fashanu is in the position to do so, as he is the strongest pass-blocker among 2024 offensive tackle draft picks.

In an ideal world, Fashanu doesn’t play a snap because Tyron Smith and Morgan Moses stay healthy all season. The realistic chances of that happening are quite low. The Jets could also sign David Bakhtiari to be their primary backup tackle, in which case Fashanu’s ranking would obviously move a lot lower. Still, as the Jets’ roster currently stands, Fashanu has a chance to be a difference-maker for the Jets, even as a rookie.

2. Malachi Corley

If I viewed Malachi Corley as the Jets’ No. 2 receiver, I would place his likely Year 1 impact above Fashanu’s. As the Jets’ No. 3, though, I think his impact won’t be as strong. Garrett Wilson will still be the target-eater in this offense, and Mike Williams should become Aaron Rodgers’ go-to jump-ball target by Week 4 or 5. Tyler Conklin and Breece Hall will also eat a decent chunk of targets. Given Rodgers’ propensity not to trust rookies, it will likely take time for Corley to break into the offense.

Furthermore, Corley’s developmental skill set as a receiver means that the Jets will likely keep him off the field in certain situations. Furthermore, if the Jets prefer to keep Wilson in the slot at times, Allen Lazard will likely take an outside spot over Corley.

Still, the YAC King is a perfect fit with Rodgers’ fondness for screens and throws to the flat. Therefore, Corley can still have a significant impact in Year 1. I could see him putting up around 500-600 receiving yards, which would be a nice start for a third-round pick.

3. Isaiah Davis

This is where it gets really controversial. The Jets drafted two running backs in back-to-back rounds. Breece Hall is still clearly the No. 1 back on the team. Izzy Abanikanda figures to see very little playing time if he makes the team at all.

Still, how will the Jets divide the snaps in their backfield? I think Hall will see around 60% of the snaps, leaving 40% for the other backs. Of the two draft picks, Isaiah Davis has the lower ceiling but is a far more consistent back snap-over-snap. Since Robert Saleh admonished Hall in 2023 for failing to run straight ahead and pick up the tough yards, I think Davis will be the Jets’ go-to when they need those tough yards.

On the flip side, Davis is very raw as a pass-blocker and didn’t show too much as a receiver in 2023. That could keep him off the field. Still, I think Davis will be the short-yardage back at the least, giving him a ready-made role.

4. Braelon Allen

While Braelon Allen was drafted one round ahead of Davis, there isn’t too much of a difference in priority between a fourth and fifth-rounder. Allen is a far more volatile back than Davis, making a highlight-reel play followed by a loss play where he bounced it outside instead of running straight ahead. He shows that same volatility as a pass-blocker, making some pancake blocks but also whiffing quite badly on others.

Ultimately, I think Davis’ consistency as a runner will give him more time on the field than Allen. I could see either one of these players contributing, though it’s hard to imagine that both will have noticeable roles with the team.

5. Leonard Taylor

Thomas Christopher detailed Leonard Taylor’s potential as a John Franklin-Myers replacement. At 6-foot-3 and 304 pounds, Taylor is too large for that role. Still, if he drops 10 pounds, he could potentially play as a big edge defender who kicks inside to three-technique on pass rush downs.

Taylor was a projected fourth-round pick but went undrafted, likely due to concerns about his character and his down 2023 season. Still, he had a sky-high pass rush win rate as a three-technique and still has the skills that made him a projected first-rounder after the 2022 season.

The Jets could use depth at both edge rusher and defensive tackle. Therefore, Taylor has a chance to make the team and garner some playing time.

6. Qwan’tez Stiggers

As a CFL alum, Qwan’tez Stiggers is a project for the Jets. Still, I suspect that they’re trying to mold him into a backup cornerback. His main allure comes on special teams, where his 9.34 Relative Athletic Score could help him become a contributor. Special teams coordinator Brant Boyer always has a say in the last few spots on the Jets’ roster, and that could get Stiggers on the field.

7. Jordan Travis

I would put Jordan Travis a bit higher on this list if he were healthy. As of now, I consider him likely to start the season on the PUP list. Between Aaron Rodgers’ and Tyrod Taylor’s injury histories, the chances of Travis seeing the field if healthy are not as low as Jets fans would hope. Still, this season will most likely be a redshirt year for the fifth-round pick, allowing him to learn to read the field.

8. Jaylen Key

Mr. Irrelevant Jaylen Key was picked there for a reason. His best chance to make the roster is if he can contribute on special teams, but a practice squad spot is more likely.

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18 days ago

Couldn’t agree with you more about Fashanu, and even if that means he plays 3 games (let’s hope that’s all he’s needed for). The Jets’ OL has ended every season since Darnold was a rookie with practice squad players on the field, and most seasons more than one. Yes, “injuries happen” in the NFL but the number of injuries to one position group can derail and entire unit, or season. We’ve seen that with the OL, so I agree with you even if it’s 3 games, and the Jets can still run their offense then he’ll make the most impact.

Your running back take it interesting and glad you pointed out the inconsistency of Allen’s pass blocking because all of the reporting has been he’s great in pass pro. I’ve written this before I do think one those two guys will take on sort of the FB role that Kyle Juszczyk plays for SF. I thought it would be Davis but you said his blocking was poor, so I’m not sure, but I do think if one of those guys can fill that “FB role” that will really help this offense.