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NY Jets’ most underrated player doesn’t even make underrated list

Michael Carter II, New York Jets, NFL, Cornerback Rankings
Michael Carter II, New York Jets, Getty Images

The New York Jets’ most underrated player flies deeply under the radar

When you ask New York Jets fans who the team’s most underrated player is, many would choose a cornerback.

Not Sauce Gardner, of course. Gardner is anything but underrated, as most consider him at worst a top-five cornerback in the NFL. His haters love to call him overrated, but two first-team All-Pro selections in two years rarely lie.

Both D.J. Reed and Michael Carter II don’t get a lot of love nationally, though. They don’t win awards, they don’t go to Pro Bowls, and they don’t make top 5 or top 10 lists.

Still, of the two, which one flies further under the radar? Pro Football Focus’ most recent list of each team’s most underrated player indicates that one is an even deeper sleeper than the other.

Here is what PFF had to say:

“NEW YORK JETS: CB D.J. REED

It is not easy to find an underrated Jet amid a roster with so many first-round picks and players who have been playing at a high level in recent seasons. Reed gets the nod because he has been overshadowed by Sauce Gardner over the past two seasons. His 3,690 snaps since 2020 rank eighth at the position, and his 85.3 overall grade is the sixth-best mark among cornerbacks.”

Reed is undoubtedly overlooked nationally, but his struggles in two games against Miami last season pushed him back a notch. He allowed 11 of 13 receptions (84.6%) for 189 yards and 2.95 yards per cover snap in two games against the Dolphins compared to 32 of 57 receptions (56.1%), 286 yards, and 0.598 yards per cover snap in his other 13 games. He was still a top-20 cornerback in most categories, but his struggles were evident down the stretch of the season.

Meanwhile, Carter II doesn’t even get a glance. Never mind that his 83.3 PFF coverage grade in 2023 ranked seventh out of 83 qualified cornerbacks — eight slots higher than Reed’s 79.5. Never mind that he allowed a measly -0.47 EPA (Expected Points Added) per target and had a 75% success rate in man coverage compared to Reed’s -0.14 and 58%.

Oh, and add the fourth-lowest yards per coverage snap in the NFL (0.594), the third-fewest yards per reception (8.1), and the second-fewest yards per target (4.53).

That’s the true definition of underrated: so underrated that he doesn’t even make a list of underrated players. While Trent McDuffie and Taron Johnson get all the love among slot corners, Carter II just does his thing.

If the Jets are smart, they’ll pay their truly most underrated player this offseason. Ideally, they can keep both cornerbacks, but given the choice, Carter II is younger and plays a tougher position.

Let Carter II keep flying under the radar. The Jets and their fans know how important he is. And he’ll get paid like it.

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