Projecting Jets Defensive Depth Chart: Unknown, Potential Raise Questions

Javelin Guidry Jets

Getty New York Jets cornerback Javelin Guidry being tossed like a common salad.

Everyone says that the success or failure of the New York Jets’ 2021 season depends on how good rookie quarterback Zach Wilson is.

There’s a really strong chance that’s true, but another key pivot point is the defense.

There’s so much mystery, so many questions, and so much insane potential. At all three levels of the defense, there is a slew of players that could pop or could drop.

A few weeks ahead of training camp it’s time to project where everything stands. If you missed the first part of this series we projected the offensive starters heading into camp.

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Robert Saleh Needs To Put His Money Where His Mouth Is

Defensive line

Defensive ends: Carl Lawson (starter), John Franklin-Myers (starter)

Defensive tackles: Quinnen Williams (starter), Sheldon Rankins (starter)

This will be the bread and butter of everything the Jets do. Jets head coach Robert Saleh and defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich are bringing a patented 4-3 scheme that is proven. This is another pivot point for the success or failure of the team.

The Jets have to get after the opposing quarterback because if they don’t they’ll be picked apart slowly but surely.

Carl Lawson and Quinnen Williams are absolute locks as starters, but the other two are up in the air. Rankins is a former first-rounder with a ton of potential, but his true position is Quinnen’s and obviously, he isn’t coming off the field. So Saleh is going to have to get creative there.

JFM can rush from the inside or the outside, but his best projection is the opposite of Lawson. He’s on the precipice of truly breaking out and when you have this much talent in the trenches, he’ll be forgotten about, which should be great news for him.

Linebackers: CJ Mosley (starter), Jarrad Davis (starter), Blake Cashman (starter)

This is one of the thinnest positions on the team and there is so much uncertainty at this spot. Mosley hasn’t played in two years, but he’s a guaranteed starter. While Davis may not have the fan support based on his prior track record, the coaching staff believes in him and that’s all he needs as another starter.

The saloon doors are spinning at weakside linebacker. Blake Cashman is the starter ahead of camp, but he’s holding onto that gig with the hairs on his chinny chin chin. During the 2021 NFL draft, Saleh opted for traits as opposed to a track record with Hamsah Nasirildeen and Jamien Sherwood.

Each of those prospects will get their opportunities situationally throughout the season and will have the chance to hammer down the starting gigs with a strong camp and/or preseason.

Breaking Down the Secondary

Cornerbacks: Isaiah Dunn (starter), Bryce Hall (starter), Javelin Guidry (starter)

Say what now? It’s the boldest take of the season, but maybe it shouldn’t be. Isaiah Dunn was one of 12 undrafted free agents that signed with the team shortly after the draft. The former Oregon State product was so highly thought of that he signed the largest DB UDFA contract in NFL history.

He’s gone from potentially making the roster to snagging a starting spot. That’s how talented he is and how not talented the rest of the depth chart is.

In this projection, Dunn stole this gig from Bless Austin. He’s a great story but has an affinity for penalties and inconsistent play.

Bryce Hall is as close to a lock that you can be in this cornerback group. While Javelin Guidry should have the edge in the slot.

Safeties: Marcus Maye (starter), Lamarcus Joyner (starter)

This is a group of super underrated players. Marcus Maye is currently on the franchise tag and has until July 15 to negotiate a long-term deal with the Jets ahead of the deadline. If both sides are unable to find some common ground, Maye will have to play 2021 out on the tag.

Lamarcus Joyner is arguably the most underrated free agent add of 2021 for the Jets. It received absolutely zero pub and it could reap major rewards this fall. He will return back to his natural position which should play to his strengths.

Don’t rule out Ashtyn Davis in this grouping either. He’ll likely be a utility player, playing where needed for this defense in 2021. He’s got unreal talent, athleticism, and potential we’ll see if this coaching staff can get it out of him.

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