Jets ‘Top-Three Players’ in 2022 All Have One Thing in Common

Quinnen Williams

Getty New York Jets defensive tackle Quinnen Williams at the 2020 BET Super Bowl Gospel Celebration.

Ever debate who the New York Jets’ best player is? Well, Pro Football Focus compiled a list that determined the top-three talents for each NFL franchise heading into 2022.

Considering the Jets roster is so young, it can be hard to determine which prospects might progress most as rookies and second-year draft picks as they develop into potential stars. PFF did not choose any Gang Green player with less than four years of experience but they did note that they “considered” rookies Sauce Gardner and Garrett Wilson, as well as third-year offensive tackle Mekhi Becton.

Instead, they chose three veterans and they all had one thing in common.

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Common Theme Is Trench Warfare

Head coach Robert Saleh and general manager Joe Douglas have both preached that they intend to build this franchise through the trenches over their respective tenures.

Douglas, a former college offensive lineman, learned this philosophy with the Baltimore Ravens and Philadelphia Eagles. Both organizations have dominated on the offensive and defensive line in recent seasons and the Jets GM intends to bring that smashmouth style of football to New York.

If PFF is any indicator, he’s well on his way. All three of Gang Green’s top players according to the grading site play on the offensive or defensive line — and two are on Saleh’s side of the ball. They wrote:

The Jets’ roster is in a much better place than it was two offseasons ago, but much of that has been New York acquiring quality starters rather than spending up for elite talent. Their two biggest free-agent acquisitions of the last two offseasons — [Laken] Tomlinson and [Carl] Lawson — both end up on the list.

The Jets’ defensive line could use a big bounceback season from Lawson after he missed the 2021 season with a torn Achilles. From 2017 to 2018, Lawson ranked in the 93rd percentile in PFF pass-rushing grade among qualifying edge rushers.

The final name on the list was defensive tackle Quinnen Williams, who PFF placed on their top 25 under the age of 25 rankings earlier this spring.

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Thoughts on the List… Snubs?

As mentioned in the open, PFF included Becton, Gardner and Garrett Wilson as rising stars that could “warrant a spot above with their play in 2022,” as well as Elijah Moore and Alijah Vera-Tucker.

It’s hard to put a rookie as a top-three talent before they ever take the field though, no matter how good they’re expected to be. Becton is also a tough call after a lost campaign in 2021 and mixed results as a rookie, and Moore and Vera-Tucker didn’t do enough in year one to earn one of these exclusive spots.

It’s true that Lawson has never played a game as a Jet either, but his utter domination in training camp last summer proved just how much better he was than the rest of the roster. If the pass rusher can stay healthy in 2022, he could easily turn into the best that NYJ has to offer.

Tomlinson is another newbie, but his track record in San Francisco speaks for itself. The Jets offensive line was better than it got credit for last season but adding the ex-Niner as an anchor should still pay huge dividends, especially if AVT makes a leap toward consistency and Becton stays on the field.

Those two selections are sound from PFF, but I might slightly tweak the third and replace Williams with fellow D-lineman John Franklin-Myers. Both are around the same age and JFM outperformed the former first-rounder in nearly every statistical category in 2022. He also took over more games if we’re judging by the eye test.

Williams gets more of the name recognition but Franklin-Myers has been the more reliable player the past two seasons. Either way, both would be in my Jets’ top five, and the duo could make a scary pairing at defensive tackle in the near future.

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