Jets Late-Round ‘Athletic Freak’ a Must-Watch Rookie in Preseason

Jonathan Marshall

Getty New York Jets rookie defensive tackle Jonathan Marshall goes straight superman-mode with Arkansas on October 31, 2020.

The New York Jets should be really exciting to watch this preseason, and not just because of rookie quarterback Zach Wilson.

With one of the youngest rosters in the NFL and rookies and second-year pros battling for playing time at nearly every positional group, there is plenty for Jets fans to look out for this August.

Let me add one more name to the list: defensive tackle Jonathan Marshall.

The former Arkansas Razorback was the Jets’ final pick in the 2021 draft, which came in the sixth round this year. Don’t let that temper your excitement though — the upside potential on Marshall is sky-high.

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Marshall’s Relative Athletic Score Is Through the Roof

In a recent Jets defensive line positional preview, team reporter Eric Allen called Marshall an “athletic freak,” and he wasn’t lying based on his Relative Athletic Score (RAS) — a metric used to gauge the athleticism of a college prospect.

RAS is calculated by averaging different athleticism scores and comparing those results with every other draft prospect from their positional group from 1987 up until the year the new prospect was drafted. So for Marshall, those scores would be weighed against every other defensive tackle scouted from 1987-2021.

This is the area where the ex-Razorback’s numbers popped off the page. Marshall scored a 9.99 RAS out of 10.0, which is obviously excellent.

In the history of RAS records for the Jets franchise, only three players have ever ranked higher. Those three are cornerback Darrelle Revis, tight end Anthony Becht and tight end Kyle Brady, who all scored a perfect 10.0. By the way, those three all cost first-round picks while Marshall only cost a sixth.

For further comparison, beastly left tackle Mekhi Becton managed a 9.85 and rare defensive tackle prospect Quinnen Williams scored a 9.84.

That second name is the most important in this discussion, being that RAS is in part measured by positional group, and Marshall and Williams are in the same one. PFN’s Tony Pauline detailed the pro-day numbers that contributed to this score.

The Arkansas rookie now holds the honor of most athletic defensive tackle in Jets history, but will it translate to the field?

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Another Stereotypical Joe Douglas Pick

As Heavy reported in May, Connor Rogers of the “Badlands” podcast labeled Marshall as a “dart throw that can be Sheldon Rankins in two years” if all goes well.

Joe Douglas has a history of betting on potential like this, especially when the temperament of the player matches the talent. Marshall checks each of those boxes, highlighted for his high character as a beloved team captain at Arkansas.

The interior D-lineman may not have totaled a large number of sacks (1.5 in 34 games), but the college disruptor did pressure opposing quarterbacks and win one-on-one battles with 11 tackles for losses over his final two seasons.

These are traits we’ve heard Douglas admit to valuing higher when scouting pass-rushers in an interview with Chris Long on the “Green Light” podcast.

Marshall’s other strengths featured by NFL scouting include:

  • Explosive with first-step quickness off the ball.
  • Nimble lateral bounce takes him inside the gaps.
  • Generates pocket pressure.
  • Good basketball player and shot put thrower in high school.

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Brick by Brick

Both Robert Saleh and the Jets general manager love to build the trenches with depth well into the reserves. Marshall definitely fits that category for now as he adapts to the NFL level.

After all, he only started one season with Arkansas and he’s certainly a work in progress on the football field but the raw physical ability is hard to ignore. Marshall spent most of the spring period on the sidelines rehabbing from an injury, so let’s hope he’s refreshed by the time training camp hits.

The current logjam at Jets interior defensive line includes Williams, Rankins, Folorunso Fatukasi, John Franklin-Myers (who may also play defensive end), Nathan Shepherd, Tanzel Smart, undrafted prospect Michael Dwumfour and Marshall.

READ NEXT: The Athletic Announces 2021 Jets Breakout Candidate


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