Will Israel Abanikanda be a Day 1 contributor for NY Jets offense?

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By: Joe Blewett

Does Israel Abanikanda’s film show a player who is ready to contribute as a rookie?

There are only a few draft philosophies that I prefer the New York Jets stick to. Drafting a running back in the later rounds of every draft is one of them.

The Jets’ running back room entering the 2023 offseason was a talented one, but with plenty of questions at the same time.

The full, member-only Israel Abanikanda film breakdown (1:14:00 in length) can be found at the bottom of this article (must be a Jets X-Factor member and logged into the site). 

Rookie Breece Hall had a stellar start to his NFL career as he was among the favorites to win Offensive Rookie of Year through the first seven games of the 2022 season. Unfortunately for Hall and the Jets, he suffered a season-ending ACL injury in Week 7. Will Hall be the same player in 2023? If so, how long will it take him to return to form?

Second-year running back Michael Carter had a disappointing season, to say the least. After a strong rookie year, Jet fans were happy with him as the RB1 before drafting Breece Hall. Carter couldn’t follow up his rookie season with another strong season. He struggled to the point where I believe he was battling an undisclosed injury, because he didn’t look like nearly the same player. Can Carter return to his 2021 form or is he “just a guy”?

Undrafted rookie free agent Zonovan Knight didn’t see the field much early in 2022 but he flashed during the latter part of the season. But it was a two to three-week “flash” – not enough to definitively say he is a good player.

Not only did the Jets enter the draft with the above questions, but they were lacking an RB4 on the roster.

To address the uncertainty at RB, Joe Douglas added another talented player to the room by drafting Pittsburgh’s Israel “Izzy” Abanikanda in the fifth round. Abanikanda undoubtedly adds some explosiveness to the Jets’ running back stable, but what about the rest of his game?

  • How polished is he in the passing game? (Blocking, route-running, hands)
  • Should we expect rookie growing pains or can he thrive immediately?
  • What does he have to improve to be a consistent back?
  • What will his role be?

All of these questions and many more are answered on this edition of Blewett’s Blitz. Plus, a list of strengths and weaknesses can be seen at the bottom of this article!

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Full member-only Israel Abanikanda film breakdown

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Next Article: Film Review of Jets Rookie OT Carter Warren 

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