As the 2021 season draws closer, a combination of mounting injuries and impressive performances could (or should) lead the Jets to have six of their 22 week 1 starters come from their 2021 draft class with both sides of the ball well represented.
Head coach Robert Saleh said he expects wide receiver Elijah Moore and left guard Alijah Vera-Tucker to be ready for week 1 as the duo will look to support rookie starting quarterback Zach Wilson. We won’t count running back Michael Carter among the starters, but it’s fair to expect Carter to carry a fair bit of the load out of the backfield.
On defense, Saleh told reporters that he expects rookie linebacker Jamien Sherwood to step in for the injured Jarrad Davis who isn’t expected back until around week six, giving Sherwood ample time to show what he can do. Opposite Sherwood will be Hamsah Nasirildeen, who has been running with the 1’s from the day he was drafted. Both linebackers are converted college safeties which will fit what the Jets are trying to do on defense as they look to get more athletic as a unit.
That brings us to the final rookie who should (but may not) get the starting nod at cornerback in Brandin Echols. With so few pre-season games and not enough reps to go around, the sample size is small, but Echols has been the only corner who has made any plays while also earning praise throughout camp.
In the Jets pre-season opener Echols picked up a pass break up deep down the field against the Giants with a perfectly timed leap that allowed him to swat the deep ball away before picking up an interception this past week against the Packers.
Following the release of Corey Ballentine, There’s not much in the cupboard for the Jets at cornerback and outside of Bryce Hall and Echols, none have been all that impressive.
Robert Saleh has talked about the importance of letting the kids play and learn and it would appear that was more than just coach speak as Gang Green prepares to roll the kids out there and see what they can do.