On June 15, 2021, Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus released his top 25 players under the age of 25, and two Jets made the cut.
Coming in at No. 19 and 22 were Quinnen Williams (23-years old) and Mekhi Becton (22-years old), two former-first round picks of the Jets’ past three offseasons.
Here was Monson’s top 10:
1. Fred Warner, linebacker, San Francisco 49ers.
2. Lamar Jackson, quarterback, Baltimore Ravens.
3. A.J. Brown, wide receiver, Tennessee Titans.
4. Nick Bosa, edge rusher, San Francisco 49ers.
5. Jaire Alexander, cornerback, Green Bay Packers.
6. Minkah Fitzpatrick, safety, Pittsburgh Steelers.
7. Chase Young, edge rusher, Washington Football Team.
8. Justin Jefferson, wide receiver, Minnesota Vikings.
9. Tristan Wirfs, offensive tackle, Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
10. D.K. Metcalf, wide receiver, Seattle Seahawks.
For what it’s worth, Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen was originally ranked second before his recent birthday made him ineligible. Monson then revised his list, moving everyone up a spot.
Williams’ 2020 Ascension
After a quiet rookie campaign, Williams had a breakthrough sophomore season with ex-Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.
Since we’re discussing a PFF ranking, it’s only right we share the defensive tackle’s 2020 grade. Williams received an 81.4 from PFF, credited with 55 combined tackles (10 for a loss) and seven sacks on Pro Football Reference.
As we have mentioned in the past though, pass-rushers nowadays aren’t only judged by their raw production, but their analytical disruption as well.
Williams was a force up the gut, with 14 quarterback hits, seven QB knockdowns, five hurries, two forced fumbles and three deflected passes. In total, that amounted to 20 pressures for the Alabama product last season, which was almost double his 2019 output.
The defensive tackle will play a key role in Robert Saleh and Jeff Ulbrich’s defense in 2021, as the expected three-technique DT in this scheme. This position generally lines up across from one of the two “B-gaps” of an offensive line, or in between the guard and tackle position.
Williams told the reporters he was a “huge Robert Saleh fan from the beginning,” after meeting him during the 2019 draft process. He also referred to the head coach as a “passionate person” with a “great defensive mind.”
Williams’ Offseason Injury
The defensive star finally addressed the media on June 16, 2021, reassuring them that he would be ready for training camp. He told reporters the injury was a “freak accident,” but elected not to go into detail on how it actually occurred. Here’s the full press conference.
Although Williams is still on the mend, he noted how excited he was to get back out there on the field with some of his new teammates, saying that veterans like Carl Lawson and Vinny Curry “make [him] want to do better and be better.”
When asked about becoming one of the dominant defensive tackles in this league, Williams responded that he “thinks [he’s] headed in the right direction.” He added that he “attacks every single day with that mindset” of becoming one of the best in the NFL.
Becton in Top Half of Draft Class
There were four big-name offensive tackles in the 2020 draft class, and so far Becton has outperformed at least two of them despite being the third one drafted.
Ironically, the fourth tackle drafted in 2020, Tristan Wirfs, was the only other player to make Monson’s top 25 coming in at No. 9. The Bucs offensive lineman did play right tackle, however, while Becton and the others guarded the blindside.
In a way, that puts the Jets’ second-year pro as the top left tackle in the draft class to this point, over Andrew Thomas and Jedrick Wills Jr.
According to PFF, Becton conceded seven sacks and seven penalties during his rookie campaign which earned him a 74.4 grade, but he did play through a couple of injuries. His size and potential are both noticeable to the naked eye so long as he can remain healthy.
The “Big Ticket” is also known for his drive blocking in the run game. The 6-foot-7, 360-pound plus offensive lineman tends to push would-be tacklers back towards their own sideline, taking them completely out of the play most times.
Becton said he was “ecstatic” that the Jets drafted Alijah Vera-Tucker to play alongside him, telling reporters that they complement each other because they “both like to finish guys” and “see guys on the ground.”
Get a look at Becton in action against the Las Vegas Raiders last season.
Future Members of the Top 25 Under 25?
The Jets certainly have some players that could qualify for this list in a year or so. Here are the top candidates right now with their age in parenthesis:
- Zach Wilson, quarterback (21).
- Elijah Moore, wide receiver (21).
- Michael Carter, running back (22).
- Denzel Mims, wide receiver (23).
- Bryce Hall, cornerback (23).
- Jason Pinnock, cornerback (21).
- Michael Carter II, cornerback (22).
- Jamien Sherwood, linebacker (21).
- Hamsah Nasirildeen, linebacker (22).