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By: Rivka Boord
The New York Jets have several stars who deserve to rank high on the NFL Top 100 list
In 2022, the New York Jets had no members of the NFL Top 100 list. What a difference a year makes.
The 2023 Jets have three or four players who are locks to make the Top 100. The question is merely where they will land on the list. There aren’t too many question marks, although one player may be more uncertain than you would think.
Where will the Jets 2023 players rank in the Top 100? Past 2023, which Jets players could become first-time Top 100 candidates for 2024?
My ranking: 60s
Prediction: late 70s/early 80s
Ordinarily, I would think that the Offensive Rookie of the Year would be a lock for the Top 100. However, Garrett Wilson did not make the Pro Bowl in 2022, and Terry McLaurin was ranked in the 90s. McLaurin already received his big second contract, while Wilson has only one year under his belt. That makes me question how the players actually voted.
Then again, I also have questions when I see ballots like this.
I have even more questions when I see players like Harrison Smith, Eric Kendricks, and Dalvin Cook on the list, or when Tristan Wirfs, an All-Pro tackle, ranks behind those players.
Wilson posted 83 receptions for 1,103 yards and four touchdowns despite catching passes from the NFL’s 33rd-ranked quarterback (out of 32 starters). The No. 10 overall pick ran elite routes and won consistently against both man and zone coverage. Though he’s not a fully finished product yet—he needs to become more of a downfield threat to join the ranks of the elite—Wilson has a chance to take that leap in Year 2 with a Hall of Fame quarterback throwing his way.
I still think Wilson made enough waves around the NFL that he’ll make the list. If he doesn’t, that might add fuel to his already-burning fire to prove himself in the league.
My ranking: teens
Prediction: late 20s
Quinnen Williams was a first-team All-Pro in 2022. He racked up 12 sacks and ranked in the top five in virtually every defensive category, all while playing significantly fewer snaps than his peers. His contract’s average annual value of $24 million per year reflects his status as one of the league’s best defensive players at any position.
In my opinion, Williams should be the second-rated defensive tackle on this list, behind only Chris Jones. Yes, I know Aaron Donald is Aaron Donald, but Donald was more like the fourth- or fifth-best defensive tackle in 2022. I think it’s fair to say that at 32 years old, Donald is still a force, but other interior defensive linemen have more of an impact at this point. No one is what Donald was at his peak, but the hierarchy on the interior has changed a bit.
With that being said, I’ve noticed that several lists, from Pro Football Focus to Madden, have underrated Williams, placing him as the fourth-best defensive tackle. It would not shock me if the players do the same, notwithstanding Williams’ dominant season. Therefore, although I think he should be in the teens, I could see him placing in the late 20s or even lower.
My ranking: 20s
Aaron Rodgers‘ 2022 season was in many ways his worst as a starter. Still, Rodgers played with subpar talent surrounding him and also dealt with a fractured thumb. Given his improved supporting cast and healed thumb, there’s a good reason to believe that he can rebound in 2023.
I think Rodgers’ peers will still rank him as one of the best in the game. Personally, I have him rated as the sixth or seventh-best quarterback in the league right now. I just think that the future Hall of Famer is only one year removed from back-to-back MVPs, and that will influence the players to put him pretty high.
It’s interesting that Trevor Lawrence, who is one of the quarterbacks I have rated ahead of Rodgers, was ranked No. 96. I think that would bode well for Rodgers, indicating that players care more about past reputation than just 2022 performance. Then again, that might hurt Williams.
My ranking: 20s
Prediction: No. 10
I think Williams and Wilson are both more refined players at their positions than Sauce Gardner is at his. That being said, a lockdown cornerback is far more rare than a strong receiver or defensive tackle, which is what makes Gardner so special. As the Defensive Rookie of the Year and a first-team All-Pro, Gardner made his case as the best cornerback in the NFL in his first season. While I don’t believe he was quite there in his technique yet, the numbers certainly make a strong case for him.
I think that despite all the hate Gardner gets from non-Jets fans, his peers respect him as a dominant force in the league. In particular, the receivers he faced know how tough of an opponent he is. If the 2022 Offensive Rookie of the Year struggled mightily against Gardner in their first training camp together (in Wilson’s own words, Gardner won most of the battles), not too many receivers were getting the better of Sauce.
Therefore, I think Gardner will slot in at No. 10. I feel that it’s a bit high, but it’s representative of the rookie sensation that he was around the league.
Likely snub: D.J. Reed
D.J. Reed was snubbed from the Pro Bowl in consecutive seasons. He was routinely snubbed in lists of the NFL’s top cornerback duos, which at times didn’t even mention the Jets (but instead lauded the Dolphins’ wildly overrated pair). He simply can’t get the recognition he deserves. Seeing some of the players in the Top 100, I would be surprised if Reed found his way onto the list.
2024 possible debuts
If Breece Hall makes this list after seven games as a rookie, there’s something wrong with the list. However, I think Hall will get back to himself enough to qualify for next year’s list. Even if he’s missing some of the home run-hitting explosiveness as he works his way back from an ACL tear, I think his pure instincts and patience as a running back will allow him to become a potential top-100 candidate.
Alijah Vera-Tucker was well on his way to an All-Pro season at guard before injuries forced him outside to tackle. Even stuck at the tackle spot, Vera-Tucker would have been a Pro Bowl candidate. With the Jets intent on keeping him at guard, look for Vera-Tucker to truly announce himself to the NFL with dominant run-blocking and intelligent pass-blocking.
I don’t believe this one will happen, but I couldn’t fail to put him on the list. The Jets’ defensive line rotation is such that no matter how dominant their edge rushers are, it’s unlikely that any individual player will put up big enough numbers to make the Top 100. There’s a chance that not a single one of their edge rushers sees at least 50% of the defensive snaps this season.
That being said, the Jermaine Johnson camp hype is here. As a rookie, Johnson was a stalwart in the run game but didn’t do much as a pass rusher. After packing on some weight and muscle, Johnson has been flying around early in training camp, but without pads on, there’s not much stock to put into that.
I suppose you can list Johnson as a candidate due to his talent and first-round pedigree. I’m just not convinced he’ll get the snaps or the rate production to get anywhere near there.
I feel that this can’t be totally discounted. Mekhi Becton flashed elite traits as a rookie, and although he hasn’t played in two years, he has the pure physical ability to be a top tackle in the NFL. It’s not all that likely, but if Becton puts it all together, he could certainly make his way onto the list.
The first question is whether Becton will even play the 2023 season with the Jets. Michael Nania predicted that he will be traded before cuts, as did Rich Cimini. I wrote that the chances of a trade are stronger than they should be. However, for the sake of discussion, I included Becton as a possibility.
It remains to be seen how the players vote. We’ll come back afterward to take stock of where the Gang Green players landed.
Next Article: NY Jets training camp: Separating real takeaways from the hype
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Originally posted on Jets X-Factor