The New York Jets’ 53-man roster is much improved from last year but if there’s one area that looks really strong on paper, it’s the defensive end position.
Behind starters Carl Lawson and John Franklin-Myers, the Jets flaunt a ferocious group of pass rushers that runs seven-deep when veteran Vinny Curry is healthy. Among those disruptors are rookie draft picks (Jermaine Johnson II and Micheal Clemons) and newcomers like Jacob Martin, but one rotational piece continues to fly under the radar as he did upon entering the league.
That, of course, is former undrafted prospect Bryce Huff — who’s finally getting some of the recognition he deserves.
Huff Dominates With 10 QB Pressures vs. Giants
Huff ended up tying Clemons for the team lead in quarterback pressures during the preseason according to Pro Football Focus. Although both logged a total of 12, Huff accomplished that feat in two games with an outstanding 10 QB pressures against the New York Giants.
That pressure-to-snap ratio yielded a phenomenal win rate of 32.6% over 45 pass-rushing opportunities. This led all Jets edge rushers in August but for comparison, here’s how some of the others faired:
- Martin, 27.3%.
- Lawson, 25.0%.
- Jabari Zuniga, 20.4% (cut, claimed).
- Bradlee Anae, 16.1% (cut, practice squad).
- Johnson, 15.2%.
- Clemons, 15.0%.
Based on that sizzling hot finish from Huff, PFF analyst Michael Renner named the defensive end as one of 10 “breakout candidates” for the 2022 season. He reasoned:
Huff flashed early on in 2021 before an injury and now looks ready for an expanded role despite the Jets drafting Jermaine Johnson II at the same position in the first round. Huff earned an 88.6 pass-rushing grade this preseason with 12 pressures on only 45 pass-rushing snaps. And it wasn’t solely against backups — his tape includes wins against Jordan Mailata. After resoundingly outplaying the first-rounder, the former UDFA doesn’t look like he’s giving up his job anytime soon.
Throughout his Jets career, Huff has always turned heads with his pressure rate but he’s struggled at getting home with only four sacks in 23 appearances. He’ll have a lot of competition for reps in 2022, but the purpose of Saleh’s deep rotation is to keep his pass rushers fresh.
Considering there’s more help around Huff this year than ever before — both on the defensive line and in the secondary — it’ll be interesting to see if the all-business UDFA can have his best campaign yet in year three with the franchise.
Recent Jets Cut Gets Honorable Mention
Also on this list was offensive tackle Chuma Edoga, who was finally cut by the Jets front office after a few disappointing seasons with the organization.
“There’s a reason why the [Dallas] Cowboys were reportedly interested in trading for the Jets backup left tackle this offseason,” Renner wrote. “It’s because Edoga looked like a different player than we’d ever seen from him in spot starts over his career. The former third-rounder in 2019 earned an 85.9 overall grade this preseason, including a 90.2 run-blocking grade.”
It’s true, Edoga probably had his best preseason since being drafted in 2019. The 25-year-old blocker was selected in the third round for a reason but could never put it all together for Gang Green.
Ironically, the Jets decided to give up on him anyway, waiving the bust O-tackle just before the deadline. Edoga was one of the seven players claimed off waivers this week and will spend his 2022 campaign with the Atlanta Falcons.
Perhaps, he’ll still have the predicted “breakout” effort down south.