Predicting the Jets Final 53-Man Roster: Defense/Special Teams
Here are my NY Jets roster predictions for the 2022 season. Here are the defense and special teams breakdowns.
- Coming off a torn Achilles suffered in the preseason last year, Lawson comes back looking to become a dominant pass rusher in this attacking scheme. If he can even be 85% of the player he has been in camp the last two years, Jets fans will flood the stands of MetLife Stadium with #58 jerseys. He could be the missing piece waiting to unlock the entire Robert Saleh defense.
- Entering the second year of his new contract, Franklin-Myers will be a pivotal piece on the defensive line. He will play both on the edge and on the interior, so he will be relied on heavily. He is my dark horse candidate to lead the team in sacks.
- Currently nursing an oblique injury, Huff brings a special skill set to the edge rusher position for New York. He has tremendous bend to match his speed (see: flag forced vs Eagles LT Jordan Mailata), and he isn’t a liability against the run. Huff is one of the players I’m most intrigued to see how he is used within the defense.
- A rookie first-rounder that the team traded up for, Johnson will come in as a rotational player in the pass rush. Head coach Robert Saleh has touted his ability to be a speed player, but he needs to work on his power game. He has flashed in the preseason, chasing quarterbacks out of the pocket in both games.
- A free agent acquisition from the Houston Texans, Martin comes in with a key role in defensive line coach Aaron’s Whitecotton gameplan. While he will be a rotational player like Johnson, Martin is more of a “pass rush specialist” with less upside against the run.
- Another rookie along the defensive line for the Jets, Clemons comes in with a ferocity unlike anyone else on the team. His long arm and physicality in his hands make him stand out in the preseason, chasing down ball carriers from the opposite side of the play. He will earn more reps throughout the season, especially since he has the versatility to play on the interior like JFM.
- Entering his 4th season and seeking a potential contract extension, Williams looked good vs the Eagles in preseason before suffering an ankle injury. It is unknown how much, if any, of the game the starters will play in the finale against the Giants, but Williams should be healthy enough to compete if they need him.
- After a relatively quiet training camp and preseason, Rankins plays a big part in filling the void left behind by Foley Fatukasi. Can he be more effective in the run game in 2022 and help the defense finish better than 32nd?
- One of the few holdovers left from the Mike Maccagnan era, Shepherd’s maturity has been praised by Saleh this summer, specifically in terms of his ability to de-escalate in a heated moment at practice. If he can harness that tenacity and avoid making penalties on gameday, Shepherd could be in line for an expanded role in 2022.
- A second-year player who bounced back and forth from the practice squad last season, Marshall has impressed this summer, including a sack against the Falcons in the second half. He has the athleticism and strength to be a capable player on the interior for the Jets.
- The team MVP in 2021 after two seasons away from football, Mosley proved everyone wrong about his ability following a long hiatus. He led the team in tackles with 168, falling just short of Johnathan Vilma’s franchise record. He will now have a bit more talent around him in Kwon Alexander, so it’s likely that Mosley can still produce at high-level in his age 30 season.
- A late summer addition on a one-year deal, Alexander came in and immediately made his presence felt. He was running with the first team within his first week, and it’s likely he will be heavily involved early for Jeff Ulbrich’s defense. His energy is also unmatched whether at practice or in a game atmosphere.
- Perhaps the biggest question mark on the second level of the defense, Williams has had an up and down career for the Jets. He has tremendous speed to make plays on either sideline, but he was a liability at times in coverage. He will need to play his best football yet to keep up with Alexander if he wants to be the every down linebacker alongside Mosley.
- After a summer of positive reports and health, Nasirildeen enters his second year at his new position in a much better place than he left it last year. Coaches said he has put on weight, and his unique size for the position has always been an advantage for him, even at safety. If he can put it all together in 2022, he has a chance to go from a special teams ace to a staple in the defense.
- After missing essentially his entire rookie season with an ankle injury in 2021, Sherwood looked very sharp in the preseason. He had multiple run stops, and a critical third down pass deflection. He has made plays on both defense and special teams, and he looks to be the immediate backup to the veteran Mosley at MIKE linebacker.
- A veteran free agent addition from the Seattle Seahawks, Robert Saleh can’t stop gushing about Reed. He has not played yet in the preseason, but he has flashed in practice, including a 100-yard pick 6 against Zach Wilson. He will be the starter on the perimeter opposite Ahmad Gardner.
- The fourth overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, “Sauce” Gardner has come into camp and immediately looked the part. His preseason film, while limited, has shown that he is not letting the mental aspect get the better of him. He will inevitably let up plays throughout the season, but he will swim more than will sink in his rookie campaign.
- A somewhat forgotten name on the roster after missing training camp with a shoulder injury, Echols has the opportunity to solidify his CB3 status, especially while Bryce Hall struggles. He tied for the most interceptions on the team last year as a rookie, so his ball skills are adequate enough to play outside corner in this scheme. Health will be his biggest hurdle in 2022.
Michael Carter II
- The starting nickel corner for the second straight season, Carter II took over as a rookie in 2021 and never looked back. He has been tested by a lot of good players that match up well against him, Kyle Pitts, Mike Gesicki, and has held his own. He is a great communicator as well, which is an important trait to possess on the backend of a defense.
- The backup nickel corner, and perhaps the fastest player on the team, Guidry brings a ton to both the defense and special teams. He is a sure tackler and his speed can be used in multiple ways, whether as a blitzer off the edge or as a player to run in man with crossing routes designed to put stress on defenders.
- A core special teams player and a veteran voice in the locker room. He will not give you much at all on defense, but his abilities on punt and kick teams are exceptional. Brant Boyer will likely be pounding the table to keep Hardee around as long as possible.
- Another veteran defensive back added this offseason, Whitehead comes from Tampa Bay with tons of playoff experience and a physicality that will help the Jets run defense improve. Saleh has already said he’s the type of player that usually doesn’t leave the building and team he was drafted to, so it speaks to how much responsibility they will entrust in him.
- After playing only 10 snaps before suffering a season-ending injury, Joyner comes back to New York on a one-year deal to be the starter opposite Whitehead. He had a shaky return to football in the preseason game vs the Falcons, so this will be a position to keep an eye on throughout the regular season.
- After making a handful of splash plays in the preseason, Parks will get every opportunity to push the aforementioned Joyner for starting reps. While he may not be the most complete safety, he will be a steady player who won’t make detrimental mistakes.
- A converted cornerback turned safety, Pinnock has earned the praise of his teammates and coaches alike. He still has a long way to go, but he has expressed his comfortability in the new position, so that will only help him learn his role at a faster pace. If he catches on to the defense quickly, he could be mixed in with the starters in certain situations during the game. He is a player to watch to see if he can climb the depth chart into a predominant role for the team.
Special Teams (3)
- After already winning the kicking competition between himself and Eddy Piñeiro, Zeurlein looks to return to “Greg the Leg” form in his first season in the Green & White.
- Entering his 3rd season with the Jets, Mann had a rocky start in 2021 before suffering a leg injury. After returning from the injury, he wore a brace for the first few games, but when the brace came off, Mann started to return to form. He is also the best tackler on special teams currently.
- The longest tenured player on the roster, Hennessy has been a mainstay for Brant Boyer’s special teams unit. He enters his 6th year with the team.