Pre-season or not, NFL football is back and Jets fans should be excited to see Gang Green get the ball rolling tonight against the Philadelphia Eagles. While fans are anxious to see year two of Zach Wilson along with what is expected to be a loaded rookie class, who are the key players to keep an eye on and why?
The O-Line: Yup. The whole group. This is expected to be a much improved part of the Jets offense in 2022 and pre-season or not, the starters are going to want to make a statement and get off on the right foot.
WR Denzel Mims: The much maligned Mims showed up to camp in great shape. Thus far, we’ve seen that translate to results on the field as Mims made more plays through the first week of camp than he did all of last season. A strong pre-season from Mims could result in a trade just as easily as it could a roster spot. Either way, he’s got to make some plays to show he belongs on somebody’s roster and he has the physical tools to get it done.
LB Kwon Alexander: After rolling out what was arguably the worst defense in franchise history last season, it came as somewhat of a surprise to see Joe Douglas do so little to improve the linebacker room. It was widely believed the Jets would start Quincy Williams in 2022. Enter Alexander, who signed after the start of training camp and has impressed early on. One of the better linebackers in the NFL just a couple of seasons ago, Alexander was derailed by injuries. If he’s all the way back, he’ll be a steal for Gang Green. Keep an eye on Alexander and see if he continues his hot start and wins himself the starting job.
OT Max Mitchell: The Jets starters will probably play roughly a quarter of football, meaning Mitchell could see significant reps. The rookie has reportedly opened some eyes early on. So much so that head coach Robert Saleh has said Mitchell was in the running to start at right tackle. This, of course, was before the Duane Brown signing. Either way, Mitchell’s early results are worth watching given the uncertainty of the Jets tackle position.
WR Irvin Charles: The Jets have some significant depth at wide receiver but Charles has been mentioned several times through the early portion of camp. He’ll need some big performances as an undrafted free agent if he’s hoping to stick around and is a big play candidate.
Jets UDFA WR Irvin Charles with his only big plat at @PennStateFball before being dismissed. What jumps out most is the amount of space he creates between himself and chasing defenders. The guy can definitely move for a big guy. pic.twitter.com/jvRIJPnP40
— Glenn Naughton (@AceFan23) May 18, 2022
DT Jonathan Marshall: A second-year interior defensive lineman, Marshall has freakish athleticism. He spent last season on the bench with just a handful of reps. However, his skill set in this defense makes him a candidate to be a significant contributor.
LB’s Hamsah Nasirildeen and Jamien Sherwood: A pair of converted safeties, both linebackers had nightmare rookie seasons for different reasons. Nasirildeen was basically handed the starting job out of camp and found himself on the bench for the rest of the season by the middle of week two. Meanwhile, Sherwood suffered a season-ending injury just a couple of plays in to his first NFL start. Both will look to make an impression tonight and should see plenty of reps to do so.
S Will Parks: Parks played well in a couple of starts to close out the 2021 season and has had his name called several times throughout camp. If he can impress on the back end, the safety room could turn out to be much deeper than previously thought.
Perfectly timed play here by Jets safety Will Parks who reads the route and breaks on the ball to knock it loose for an incomplete pass. Parks impressed in just a handful of games last season. pic.twitter.com/c1MumW4Dlf
— Glenn Naughton (@AceFan23) May 16, 2022
S Jason Pinnock: Like Parks, Pinnock finished the season nicely after he was moved from cornerback to safety. If Pinnock can manage to develop in to a quality defender, it would only make the 2020 draft class look that much better.