Unlikely Jets Prospect Named to ‘All-Breakout Team’ in Year 2

Micheal Clemons

Getty New York Jets second-year defensive lineman Micheal Clemons during the 2022 regular season.

The New York Jets’ 2022 draft class was exciting from the get-go, considering it included three first-round picks and Breece Hall — a first-round talent at a somewhat devalued position.

That cast a bit of a shadow on later selections like OT Max Mitchell and DL Micheal Clemons, who were both called upon to contribute as rookies. The latter registered a full season in year one — just about — missing one game in Week 14.

Not only was Clemons available, but he was also formidable with 2.5 sacks, six QB hits and four tackles for a loss as a rotational player according to Pro Football Reference. He graded out well on Pro Football Focus too, which was part of the reason PFF writer Jim Wyman named the 6-foot-5 defensive lineman to their “2023 All-Breakout Team.”

“As a rookie fourth-rounder in 2022, Clemons didn’t start a single game but was effective when he did appear on the field,” Wyman voiced. “While not a finished product as a pass-rusher, as his 58.6 pass-rush grade can attest to, Clemons was very stout as a run defender, putting up an 86.4 run-defense grade and an 81.5 tackling grade.”

He concluded that “if Clemons can add some more pass-rush moves to his repertoire, he could form a dangerous edge trio alongside Jermaine Johnson II and Carl Lawson.”

Micheal Clemons’ Added Weight Should Lead to More Opportunities With the Jets in 2023

Wyman mention Lawson and Johnson but this Jets D-line is much deeper than a trio. There’s also John Franklin-Myers, Bryce Huff and rookie first rounder Will McDonald IV to contend with on the edge, as well as Quinnen Williams, Al Woods, Quinton Jefferson and Solomon Thomas up the gut among others.

In 2022, Clemons lined up outside the offensive tackle on the majority of his defensive snaps according to PFF. 290 out of 311, to be exact, which comes out to 93.2%.

Nine of those 311 snaps were also lined up over an O-tackle. Only 12 came at defensive tackle.

That’s expected to even out a bit more in 2023 after Clemons bulked up 20-plus pounds over the offseason. Defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich revealed the details of the muscular transformation on May 31, noting that the second-year pro is operating in the 290s now — a new weight class for NFL D-linemen.

With Clemons joining Franklin-Myers as a true tweener on the DL, that opens up a world of opportunity for both Clemons and the Jets.

For the latter, the Jets could choose to keep just three D-tackles in 2023 — considering they have two versatile cogs that can shift inside. That would free up a roster spot, which could be utilized elsewhere.

For Clemons, added weight means a higher snap share, aka more playing time. Due to his dual-position potential, the former fourth-round pick might even get on the field more than first rounders Johnson and McDonald.

Jets D-Line Has Less Competition at 2023 Training Camp

Although the Jets D-line is deeper than ever in terms of talent, the training camp battle shouldn’t be as cutthroat in 2023.

Last year, the Jets practically held an open competition on the edge with 10-plus D-ends at summer camp at one point in time. This year, head coach Robert Saleh has narrowed his group of pass rushers down to eight — but there’s really a strong core of six DEs on the roster.

Behind Lawson, JFM, Johnson, Clemons, Huff and McDonald are Bradlee Anae and undrafted rookie Deslin Alexandre. Realistically, Alexandre is vying for a practice squad role in 2023.

Anae might have had a shot of making the 53-man roster, theoretically, but he’s currently injured. The Jets placed him on the injured reserve, officially, on May 25. The team did not choose to disclose what’s keeping the 2022 training camp darling off the field, or when he may return.

The other six are expected to make the Week 1 roster, barring a trade or injury.

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