Although fans have had enough of the paper championships, which are often bestowed upon teams that have ‘won the offseason.’ It’s time for the reality to live up to the hype.
Jets Rookie Class Will Make Biggest Impact
One analyst strongly believes that the green and white will finally put their money where their mouth is in 2021 claiming their rookie class will have the biggest impact:
“The New York Jets’ first four picks should contribute immediately,” NFL Analyst Matt Bowen told ESPN. “Zach Wilson, who has high-end arm talent and movement ability, is their Week 1 starter at quarterback. USC’s Alijah Vera-Tucker could start as a guard or tackle on the offensive front, while wide receiver Elijah Moore and running back Michael Carter both have scheme-specific traits to fit in Mike LaFleur’s new offensive system.”
The Jets haven’t had four picks from a single draft class contribute immediately in over eight years. The last class to do it for Gang Green was back in 2013 (stats provided by Pro Football Reference):
- Dee Milliner, cornerback: played in 13 games and registered three interceptions.
- Sheldon Richardson, defensive lineman: participated in 16 games, recorded 3.5 sacks, 78 combined tackles, and won the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year award.
- Geno Smith, quarterback: also played in all 16 games, had a 12-to-21 touchdown-to-interception ratio, and carried the Jets to an 8-8 overall record.
- Brian Winters, offensive lineman: played in all 16 games and started 12 in the trenches.
While those players didn’t all go on to incredible success in their careers (three of them are still in the NFL), they were immediate contributors.
Can the Jets Live up to the Hype?
Rookie quarterback Zach Wilson is slated to start Week 1 facing minimal competition from James Morgan (fourth-round draft pick from 2020) and Mike White (practice squad player).
The former BYU stud will certainly get every opportunity to make an impact with locked-in playing time. Can he take advantage of it?
Wilson will have the most talented crop of weapons that any Jets rookie quarterback has possessed since Mark Sanchez back in 2009.
With a revamped receiving core, a stable of running backs, and most importantly a proven offensive system, Wilson should excel in his first year in the pros.
While in the trenches the Jets invested on the offensive line with the No. 14 pick in the form of Alijah Vera-Tucker. Gang Green traded up nine spots to get their guy and he is a plug-and-play kind of player.
Regardless of where he plays on the line, he projects as the starting left guard, he should bring All-Pro potential to a unit that was underwhelming in 2020, ranked 29th worst in the NFL, per PFF.
Not only will he protect Wilson his quarterback, but AVT will open up this entire offense for the Jets. The left side of the offensive line is led by two franchise building blocks with Vera-Tucker and Mekhi Becton.
In the second round, the Jets added a versatile offensive weapon in Elijah Moore.
During his career at Ole Miss, they lined Moore up in the backfield, at slot, on the outside, and even in some wildcat packages. The possibilities are endless. Gang Green offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur is going to have a field day with the former Rebels star at his disposal.
Pairing Wilson and Moore together as rookies so they can build and grow together was next-level thinking by Jets general manager Joe Douglas.
While finally the last of the big four, Michael Carter, the running back out of North Carolina seems to be a perfect scheme fit.
The Jets were able to get Carter No. 107 overall in the fourth round, but according to Douglas, they would’ve taken him even earlier.
On The Michael Kay Show, Douglas revealed he would’ve taken MC1 with the No. 66 pick if they would’ve kept it. Of course, the Jets dealt that pick along with No. 86 in the third round to move up from 23 to 14 to draft AVT in the first round.
The green and white have a bunch of question marks in the backfield: Tevin Coleman (oft-injured), a bunch of randoms (Ty Johnson, Josh Adams), and a bad scheme fit (La’Mical Perine).
This opens up the door for Carter to take over the backfield in year one.
With all of the other weapons on offense, Carter could be in a perfect position to face a lighter box than normal, which could lead to bigger plays.
MC1 was a big-play threat in college, averaging 6.6 yards per clip during his four-year career, which could continue in the pros.
The Jets are going to need this class to have a major impact if they hope to win many games this year. If the experts are right about this class, it could be a foundational unit this team builds upon heading into the future.