Home | Articles | Analytics | Most underrated players in the AFC East: How many are NY Jets?

Most underrated players in the AFC East: How many are NY Jets?

Michael Carter II, MC2, NY Jets, CB
Michael Carter II, New York Jets, Getty Images

These are some of the most overlooked players in the AFC East, including New York Jets players

On its surface, the AFC East seems like a much weaker division in 2023 than in years past — ripe for the New York Jets’ picking. The Bills lost Stefon Diggs, the Dolphins lost Christian Wilkins and Robert Hunt, and the Patriots are, well, the post-Tom Brady Patriots.

However, looking a little deeper, there are many overlooked players in the division who could make it much trickier than imagined. In particular, the Bills’ and Dolphins’ defenses have players who could give the Jets a tough time.

Let’s rank some of the most underrated players in the AFC East. For the Jets, I’m going to include players whom Jets fans may not underrate but who are lesser known on the national stage.

OG/C Connor McGovern, Bills

The Bills’ overall Pro Football Focus team pass-blocking grade improved from 22nd in 2022 (63.0) to 11th in 2023 (69.7). Connor McGovern was the biggest reason. Coming over from the Cowboys, he was known as an above-average pass-blocker and a well below-average run-blocker. That’s exactly what he provided for Buffalo, as his 3.3% pressure rate ranked seventh-best out of 69 qualified guards (min. 275 pass-blocking snaps), while his 48.5 run-blocking grade ranked 58th out of 66.

The Jets did get to McGovern in Week 1 of 2023, as he allowed four pressures, including a sack. Still, Buffalo sought to give Josh Allen more protection, and that’s what they did on the whole. McGovern’s move to center in 2024 could bode some changes for him, as he’s played there very sparingly throughout his career. He’s a very overlooked player, though.

CB Christian Benford, Bills

The team whose cornerback trio could most rival the Jets’ is the Bills’. Christian Benford, Rasul Douglas, and Taron Johnson combined for an excellent 2023 grouping. Of the three, Benford has the least name recognition, in part because he didn’t play all that well in his 2022 rookie season. However, in 2023, he posted a 14.8% forced incompletion rate (71st percentile) and 0.833 yards per cover snap (82nd).

Additionally, Benford’s 75.6 run defense grade (13th-best) and minuscule 1.9% missed tackle rate (1st) made him an excellent all-around corner.

CB Kendall Fuller, Dolphins

Replacing the porous Xavien Howard with the solid Kendall Fuller is an excellent addition to the Dolphins’ defense. Fuller tied for 16th out of 72 qualified corners in allowing 6.68 yards per target, and his 0.778 yards per cover snap ranked 10th. He did give up six touchdowns in 2023, showing that he can be beaten, but he was pretty stingy otherwise. His 60% coverage success rate (T-13th) demonstrates his general consistency.

DT Zach Sieler, Dolphins

While Miami will suffer from the loss of Christian Wilkins, Zach Sieler is still an excellent run stuffer in the middle. His 63.4 PFF run defense grade in 2023 ranked 19th out of 66 qualifiers, but he had grades of 79.7 and 77.9 in 2021-22. Sieler also improved tremendously as a pass rusher in 2023, going from a 6.3% pressure rate the year before to a 10.5% rate in 2023 (79th percentile).

Jets fans may not underrate Sieler after the havoc he’s wreaked against them over the past two seasons, but he’s been largely overlooked due to Wilkins’ presence. That will change in 2024.

CB Michael Carter II, Jets

Jets fans know that Michael Carter II is criminally underrated nationally. He posted 0.594 yards per cover snap in 2023, the fourth-best among qualified corners, and his 4.53 yards per target ranked second. His -0.19 EPA per target ranked 16th even though he did not record any interceptions on the season. His sixth-ranked 65.6% coverage success rate demonstrates his consistency, not to mention his excellence in man coverage during the 2023 season. Carter II is the Jets’ best-kept secret.

RT Morgan Moses, Jets

The entire narrative for the Jets’ offensive line surrounds the health questions, starting with their two 33-year-old tackles. While Morgan Moses may start dealing with injury issues due to his age, he has been remarkably durable throughout his career, playing in every game for eight consecutive seasons before missing three in 2023.

Joe Douglas’ trade for Moses was a coup for a team in desperate need of two starting tackles. He ranked in the 65th percentile among qualified tackles in pressure rate (5.6%) and 10th-best with a 77.2 Pro Football Focus run-blocking grade. He averaged 3.3 seconds from snap to pressure, ranking in the 90th percentile in that category. This signifies that it takes a while to beat him.

Consider that the Dolphins signed right tackle Austin Jackson to a three-year, $36 million extension. Jackson allowed an 8.5% pressure rate in true pass sets and posted a 69.5 PFF run-blocking grade in 2023. The Patriots’ Mike Onwenu got a three-year, $57 million deal while posting marks of 7.3% and 72.2. Moses’ marks were 7.3% and 80.3 — and the Jets are paying him $5.5 million. (Obviously, age is a big factor, but this also demonstrates how underrated Moses is.)

LB Jahlani Tavai, Patriots

The Patriots’ defense was decimated by injuries in 2023, but Jahlani Tavai paced the team with a breakout season. His 0.559 yards per cover snap allowed in 2023 ranked third out of 66 qualified linebackers (min. 250 coverage snaps), his 5.3 yards per target ranked fourth, and his 11.4% forced incompletion rate ranked second. He added an 86.2 PFF run defense grade (7th) for one of the best all-around seasons from a linebacker.

DT Christian Barmore, Patriots

Christian Barmore’s 10.3% pressure rate in 2023 ranked 20th out of 77 qualified defensive tackles (min. 250 pass rush snaps). His 30.6% impactful pressure rate ((sacks + hits) / pressures) was more mediocre at 31st, but he nevertheless caused a disruption on pass plays at an above-average rate. He added a 12th-ranked 67.8 PFF run defense grade, showcasing his two-way ability. You might hear his name more often this season with Christian Wilkins out of the division.

Want More Jet X?

Subscribe to become a Jet X Member to unlock every piece of Jets X-Factor content (film breakdowns, analytics, Sabo with the Jets, etc.), get audio versions of each article, receive the ability to comment within our community, and experience an ad-free platform experience.

Download the free Jet X Mobile App to get customizable notifications directly to your iOS (App Store) or Android (Google Play) device.

Sign up for Jet X Daily, our daily newsletter that's delivered to your inbox every morning at 8:00 a.m. ET.

Add Jets X-Factor to your Google News feed and/or find us on Apple News to stay updated with the New York Jets.

Follow us on X (Formerly Twitter) @jetsxfactor for all the latest New York Jets news, Facebook for even more, Instagram for some of the top NY Jets images, and YouTube for original Jets X-Factor videos.

Related Articles

About the Author

More From Author


5 1 vote
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments