Making The Jump: DT
These weeks seem to be flying by now, Jets football will be back in no time. For now, we’re going to have to make do with a mandatory two-day mini-camp that will run on Tuesday and Wednesday this week. The expectation is that everyone will be present and everyone should be at the facility today for their physical…that means Becton will make his first appearances in NY since the birth of his child, and you know there are going to be stories doing the rounds depending on how that physical goes.
👋 Former Jets receiver Robby Anderson sent out a tweet suggesting he was considering retiring from football. Not sure if that’s serious or just to grab some attention, but considering the QBs he’s played with over his career, I can understand it.
4️⃣ The Jets had 4 QB whispers last year, but it’s been confirmed that we’ll return to a more traditional set-up with QB coach Rob Calabrese and coordinator Mike LaFleur. Zach’s private coach John Beck won’t return and Matt Cavanaugh has moved on.
👏 Corey Davis has a lot of good things to say about Garrett Wilson so far: “Dude is special. Dude is very special. He's got crazy routes, crazy hands, and is always focused. ... His separation is unbelievable. I'm glad we got that dude."
🌟🌟 Eric Allen of the official NYJ website listed Ashtyn Davis and Jason Pinnock as the two players who are flying under the radar after having strong OTA’s. Considering FS is considered our biggest weakness in the secondary, this can only be a good thing.
I spent a large portion of this weekend thinking about the Jets’ defensive tackle position, mainly because I think it’s such a huge question mark heading into the 2022 NFL season.
Joe Douglas worked hard this off-season to upgrade as many positions as possible, but there was always going to be one position that we just had to kick into the future. It seems to be as though defensive tackle was that position.
Recently we heard that Micheal Clemons had inside/out versatility and would likely see time inside at tackle as well as outside at his more natural edge position, it’s likely that John Franklin-Myers will do the same.
Quinnen Williams will (hopefully) lead the defensive tackles in snap share this year, he’s far and away the best players on the interior of that line and the hope is that he makes that leap into the upper echelons this season, but who will play alongside him?
Here are the four most likely candidates to step up for the Jets in 2022.
Sheldon Rankins - A former first-round pick of the Saints, Rankins had the worst year of his career in 2021 according to PFF, and based on what we saw I’m inclined to not question that too much. Back in 2018, it looked as though Rankins was going to live up to his first-round billing with an 8 sack, 46 total pressure season…and a positive ranking against the run. Unfortunately, Rankins suffered a torn Achilles at the end of that 2018 season and he hasn’t looked the same since. The good news is that he largely stayed healthy last season appearing in 16 games, most since the 2018 season and he’ll be walking into year two of the Saleh/Ulbrich scheme in 2022 with the knowledge he can stay healthy, psychologically that’s huge. Rankins is better than he showed in 2021, if he can build on that healthy season he could well be a diamond for the Jets.
Nathan Shepherd - I can almost feel the collective eye roll through my computer screen but stay with me on this one. Coming into the league back in 2018 we all knew that Shepherd was a huge project. He was playing his football at Fort Hays and Lance Zierlein in his pre-draft report had a 2nd round grade on him, but also said he’d likely need a couple of years to redshirt. He’s now entering his 5th year and 2nd in the same system, so now it’s really time to see what he can do. According to Rich Cimini, Shepherd turned down a bigger deal elsewhere to stay with the Jets in 2022 and there is logic to that decision. Shepherd made strides towards the back end of the 2021 season, in the first 8 games he only had one graded game over 55…which is awful. Over the final 9 games of the season, he had 7, including an 87.9 grade against Houston. But forget about the grades, he just looked more confident and comfortable as the season went on. Now with Fatukasi having moved on, he sees an opportunity here with the Jets.
Solomon Thomas - The Jets did make an addition inside with the signing of Solomon Thomas, and they gave him $1.4 million of guarantees as well. Thomas is another former first-round pick who’s never managed to perform at that level. His 30 pressures in 2021 would have ranked him 2nd on the Jets, just behind Quinnen Williams…and we have to remember that last year was his first year back after suffering a torn ACL against the Jets in 2020, another victim of that Metlife turf. The issue with Thomas is he’s never been a good run defender, he just hasn’t shown the ability to consistently stand up in the middle. Ironically his best game against the run last year came against Dallas and their outstanding offensive line. Thomas has some familiarity with Saleh from their time in San Francisco and maybe that helps, but if Thomas makes the team I can see him doing more damage as an interior pass-rusher over a run stuffer.
Jonathan Marshall - Marshall only had one season as a starter at Arkansas but in that season he was one of the better defensive tackles in college football against the run. He was quick, agile, and strong and it was those traits that prompted the Jets to take a chance on him. He spent the vast majority of that 2020 season as a Nose Tackle for the Razorbacks, but did also line up as a traditional DT. His lack of experience in college always suggested that his transition to the pro game would be a longer journey than most, so maybe what we saw last season was a player adapting to the speed of the NFL game while trying to learn a new system. This year Marshall should be better prepared and more comfortable, and that usually leads to better performances. The fact he only got 77 snaps on defense last year would indicate that the coaching staff believed he needed more time to adjust.
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