The 2020 Jets hope to kick off the new decade by snapping a nine-year playoff drought.
There was plenty of roster turnover this offseason, but the question remains: Does new necessarily mean better?
Tom Brady’s departure ostensibly gives hope to the rest of the AFC East, but will the Jets be the team to finally knock the Patriots off their perch as division rulers?
I’ll be revealing my Top 20 players on the roster every weekday for the next four weeks in the run-up to training camp.
This list is made up of the players who I believe will make the most impact for Adam Gase’s team this season. The ranking isn’t simply based on a player’s resume. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.
So, we’re peering into our crystal ball and taking some leaps of faith. There’s some quality young talent on Gang Green’s roster. Some of those guys are poised to take their games to the next level.
Get ready for some surprises.
2019 ranking: 6
Position: Defensive lineman
Age at the start of the season: 22
2020 salary cap charge: $7.48 million
Contract status: Second year of a 4-year, $32.53 million rookie deal (plus fifth-year option)
2019 Season in Review: Williams arrived with lofty expectations after Gang Green took him with the No. 3 overall pick. Although the rookie was far from a statistical wonder (28 combined tackles, 2 ½ sacks, six quarterback hits, four tackles for loss in 13 games), there were mitigating factors that shouldn’t be dismissed.
Williams missed just two games after suffering a high-ankle sprain in the season opener, drawing praise from coaches and teammates for his toughness. A neck injury late in the season prompted him to miss another game.
“He fought through injuries early, so he missed a few games,” veteran linebacker C.J. Mosley said. “But if you look back at his career at Alabama, he didn’t play a lot. So, I think he still has a lot of raw talent in him. The more he learns, the more experience he gets on the field is going to make him that much better.… Just those little things are going to help him as he gets older. You’re not just going to learn it right off the bat.”
Williams’ 5.8 pressure rate ranked him in the bottom third of interior linemen, according to Pro Football Focus. However, he improved his pressure rate to 8.1 percent from Weeks 13-17. His pressure rate jumped from 5.1% in his first nine games to 15.8% in his final four, according to jetsxfactor.com.
Williams, who was a one-year starter at Alabama, played an important role in the Jets’ second-ranked run defense. The rookie had 14 run stops in 158 run defense snaps, which ranked 20th among 117 interior linemen, per jetsxfactor.com.
“He’s so young,” defensive coordinator Gregg Williams said. “When they come in here, it takes a while that first year to adjust to the speed of the game and the power at this level. He’s already started that adjustment. We’re all seeing that.”
2020 Outlook: Williams has the tools to make a sizable jump in his second season. He will be expected to play a larger role for the team’s most successful unit from a year ago. His potential touches the sky.
“He’s definitely that guy in the middle of our defense that can wreck games,” Mosley said.
Williams spent the offseason training with his brother Quincy, who plays for the Jaguars, in Alabama. Charges for his March arrest for bringing an unregistered gun to La Guardia Airport are pending. The Jets don’t believe that he’ll be disciplined by the league this season. (Punishment in 2021 is TBD).
Williams admittedly didn’t have the rookie campaign that he envisioned, but it’s silly to make any declarations after one season. He was better than the numbers indicated.
But he’s fully aware that he’s going to have to elevate his play in 2020.
“He’s very intelligent,” Gregg Williams said. “The fact that he can play four different positions for us — not just right and left — conceptually four different positions, that doesn’t happen very often with rookies, to be able to do that. He’s a good young man and you’re only going to see him get better.”
Williams could be in store for a very big season.
Next on the Countdown: A star looking for redemption.
No. 20: P Braden Mann
No. 19: DL Foley Fatukasi
No. 18: WR Denzel Mims
No. 17: DL Kyle Phillips
No. 16: DL Steve McLendon
No. 15: DL Henry Anderson
No. 14: CB Pierre Desir
No. 13: CB Brian Poole
No. 12: WR Breshad Perriman
No. 11: C Connor McGovern
No. 10: S Marcus Maye
No. 9: OLB Jordan Jenkins
No. 8: OT Mekhi Becton
No. 7 TE Chris Herndon
No. 6: WR Jamison Crowder
No. 5: Le’Veon Bell