With the defensive scheme the New York Jets run under Robert Saleh and Jeff Ulbrich, being able to win with the front four alone is necessary. Pair that with the current construction of the defensive line by Joe Douglas and Saleh. Currently, the Jets look like they will have 10 or 11 defensive linemen in total on the final 53-man roster. Let’s take a look at how the starters and key reserves rank up.
8. Solomon Thomas, DT
The Jets signed Solomon Thomas in the second wave of 2022 free agency. Thomas has four years of experience with Saleh when they were with the San Francisco 49ers (2017-20). Last season, Thomas had the best year of his career with 3.5 sacks. He played inside on the line and had some success as a pass rusher. The Jets will expect Thomas to provide an interior rush as a key backup.
7. Sheldon Rankins, DT
Sheldon Rankins signed with the Jets’ last free agency and is now in the final year of his two-year contract. He is similar to Thomas. His strength is rushing the passer inside. Rankins provides a bit more size as a traditional defensive tackle. He recorded three sacks for the Jets in 2021. Rankins provides a great leadership presence and can hopefully be even more impactful pressuring the quarterback this year.
6. Bryce Huff, EDGE
One of the Jets’ more underrated players, Bryce Huff, has attained some success with two sacks in each of his first two years as an undrafted free agent. Huff will be a primary backup edge pass rusher on third downs and other key passing situations. He is fast, built lower to the ground, and has bend turning the corner. Huff will play this season at 24 years old.
5. Jacob Martin, EDGE
The Jets signed Jacob Martin to a three-year contract early in free agency. Similar to how Thomas and Rankins have identical skill sets, so do Martin and Huff. Martin is another pure speed rusher with a fast first step. He is also on the smaller side and has great bend on the edge. Martin will give the Jets’ rushing depth a strong presence.
4. Jermaine Johnson, EDGE
The exciting first-round rookie, Jermaine Johnson, is going to have a significant role. Johnson is tall, fast, long, physical, and athletic. On early downs, expect a lot of reps for Johnson with his ability to set the edge against the run. As a pass rusher, Johnson has shown the ability to be successful with his technique and moves. Now, he just has to work on consistency with his plan rep-to-rep. Once he does, Johnson will have a promising long-term future with the Jets.
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3. Carl Lawson, EDGE
In the midst of all the Jets’ offseason excitement, the return of Carl Lawson seems to be flying under the radar. Throughout training camp last summer, Lawson was reportedly the Jets’ best player. Lawson was signed to a big three-year contract in March of 2021. He has comparable traits as a pass rusher to Martin and Huff. Lawson is fast and has bend at his smaller height. Expect Lawson to be a big contributor to the Jets’ pass rush in 2022.
2. John Franklin-Myers, DT
Arguably the best player in the first month of last season, John Franklin-Myers has been a top player for the Jets the last two years. He has proven his incredible versatility playing on the inside for the first time in his football career in 2020 and on the edge last year. He earned a big four-year contract with the Jets last season that puts him with the team through 2025. This year, expect Franklin-Myers on the edge on running downs and inside in passing situations.
1. Quinnen Williams, DT
This should be the year Quinnen Williams puts it all together for the Jets. As a former third overall selection in 2019, Williams has been very good for the Jets. Now, entering year four, it is time to be great. Williams has the talent to put himself near the best at the defensive tackle position. He is healthy, in the second year of a scheme that suits him best, and with the best surrounding talent, he has had yet during his four years with the Jets. Williams should be one of the best players on the Jets this year.