Sam Darnold and the new rookie class makes for an interesting 2018 pre-training camp player power ranking New York Jets list.
Wearing a stale black t-shirt, a no-name white hat and even bleaker maroon shorts, there he was, the golden-armed kid worth millions to an organization sporting some of the same clothes you and I could whirl up via hand-me-down. Sam Darnold entered MetLife Stadium for the first time with no flash to go along with all emotion as seen on Tuesday night as part of Facebook’s Episode 4 of “One Jets Drive: The Road to Training Camp.”
This is the kid, the third selection of the 2018 NFL Draft who so easily showcases raw emotion. He turns excited (as seen when he and his rookie colleagues checked out their new professional digs) yet always stops short of the level of overly emotional. He maintains an even-keel, a flat-line of sorts that projects perfectly unto his new professional career as a young adult.
He now joins the official fray—Sam Darnold, that is.
Darnold, along with many more young ones and veterans join the Florham Park fray this season. Much like the usual 33 percent turnover as it pertains to roster freshness each season in this specific league, the New York Jets remained pretty on par since the end of the 2017 campaign.
Now that Darnold is in the fold, the unimportant yet terribly difficult decision of where he ranks among the crop is necessary. It was only a year ago we threw Jamal Adams in the top five prior to training camp and turned up aces. It’s now officially time to take on the same challenge heading into the 2018 version of camp.
Here are the 2018 pre-training camp player power rankings:
- Trenton Cannon
- Jordan Leggett
- Clive Walford
- Eric Tomlinson
- Ben Ijalana
- Brent Qvale
- Dakoda Shepley
- Dakota Dozier
- Antonio Garcia
- ArDarius Stewart
- Charone Peake
- Thomas Rawls
- Deon Simon
- Folorunso Fatukasi
- Xavier Cooper
- Courtney Upshaw
- Josh Martin
- Neville Hewitt
- Rontez Miles
- Derrick Jones
- Kevin Perre-Louis
- Cairo Santos
- Thomas Hennessy
The notables section is pretty self-explanatory—23 individuals on top of the 40 we ranked give us 63 total Jets. That number is, obviously, nine over the 53-man roster. So we’re toiling with a realistic number of 63 that exactly equal the 53-man roster plus 10 practice squad members.
The higher upside individuals on the notables include newcomer Courtney Upshaw and rooks Trenton Cannon and Dakoda Shepley.
Now let’s move on to the big show, beginning with No. 40:
NEXT: No. 40 through 31
40. Dylan Donahue
39. Travis Swanson
38. Juston Burris
37. Lorenzo Mauldin
36. Josh McCown
35. Dimitri Flowers
34. Kelvin Beachum
33. Chris Herndon
32. David Bass
31. Henry Anderson
When the starting left tackle can’t crack the top 30 players on the team, that’s not a good deal for the young, generational franchise quarterback. Kelvin Beachum is No. 34 on the team and deserves that distinction.
The very same year Beachum signed on with the Jets, his former team, the Jacksonville Jaguars, moved from 22nd in the NFL in rushing to first. Obviously, Leonard Fournette helped things greatly, but he barely cracked 1,000 yards rushing (a far cry from over 2,500 in total). Beachum was gone and his replacement, rookie Cam Robinson, led the way to a terrific and much improved Jags O-line.
After a below-average first season in New York, Beachum will be Sam Darnold’s blindside. It’s a scary proposition as of right now.
NEXT: No. 30 through 21
30. Spencer Long
29. Kevin Minter
28. Darryl Roberts
27. Parry Nickerson
26. Lachlan Edwards
25. Buster Skrine
24. Teddy Bridgewater
23. Terrelle Pryor
22. Chad Hansen
21. James Carpenter
Speaking of the O-line, Bachum plays the most important spot on the unit while ranking as the fifth best lineman. Newcomer Spencer Long and James Carpenter hit as the 30th and 21st best Jet on the player power rankings, respectively.
Teddy Bridgewater comes in at 24 while Terrelle Pryor at 23. Chad Hansen, a kid whose talents are being noticed this offseason, will start at 22 with tons of room to improve.
A dark horse to move up rapidly is rookie Parry Nickerson. Starting only two spots down from the man whose job he’s after, Buster Skrine, the young corner possesses loads of talent.
NEXT: No. 20 through 16
20. Brandon Shell
19. Jermaine Kearse
18. J.J. Wilcox
17. Nathan Shepherd
16. Isaiah Crowell
Newcomers in J.J. Wilcox, Nathan Shepherd and Isaiah Crowell dominate the 20-16 range and it’s interesting due to the idea all three of these guys may not start—or, will at least have to earn those starting spots this coming August.
Wilcox is the Jets talented third safety who’ll never start yet play a huge role in most sub-packages against multiple wideout sets. Shepherd must earn that starting interior spot alongside Leonard Williams in order to help free up the Big Cat. Whether he starts or not doesn’t matter. Crowell will find himself in a time-sharing situation with Bilal Powell and Elijah McGuire.
At 20 and 19, respectively, returnees Brandon Shell and Jermaine Kearse represent solid NFL football players.
NEXT: No. 15 through 11
15. Jordan Jenkins
14. Brian Winters
13. Steve McLendon
12. Bilal Powell
11. Elijah McGuire
As perhaps the shocker of the list, Elijah McGuire ranks 11th.
Yes, the kid is nasty and could absolutely take on a workhorse role in New York. Bilal Powell is at No. 12 and with expected starter Isaiah Crowell also in the mix, the running back spot doesn’t offer up any household names yet does showcase incredible depth.
Jordan Jenkins is your regular, professional 3-4 outside linebacker who’s studly against the run while maximizing effort over athleticism. Unfortunately, he’ll never be that speedy edge demon the Jets have been without for so long.
Brian Winters ranks as the highest offensive lineman while underrated Steve McLendon has done a tremendous job filling in as best he can for Damon Harrison.
NEXT: No. 10 through 8
10. Avery Williamson
Perhaps the most surprising move of the Jets offseason came at inside linebacker when Demario Davis was let go after a career year. Avery Williamson is the man who’ll replace the Jets defensive leader a year ago.
With Williamson in, Darron Lee’s captaincy and leadership role will expand. More importantly, however, the question of whether or not Williamson can effectively fill Davis’s shoes remains.
Surprisingly in Tennessee, Williamson rarely played on passing downs. He would come out during any sub-package situation in favor of another backer. In New York, while D-Lee’s the No. 1 guy, he’ll finally receive his chance at that every-down role.
9. Morris Claiborne
Morris Claiborne returns to the team a notch down on the cornerback depth chart through no fault of his own. And this is a really great thing for the Jets.
Claiborne, 28, put forth a tremendous season in 2017 with one interception, eight passes defensed and 34 tackles in New York. With Trumaine Johnson on board, Mo-Claiborne represents a phenomenal No. 2 corner.
8. Quincy Enunwa
Though No. 8 may feel high for a football player returning from a season-long injury, Quincy Enunwa is that damn good.
At his frame, 6-foot-2 and 225 pounds, Enunwa is a matchup nightmare for any NFL defense. His a receiver who can play the Y on any three wide receiver or more set which forces the D to decide whether an extra corner is needed or not.
Enunwa, 26, put forth 857 yards and four scores on 58 receptions two years ago and has a great chance of making the Pro Bowl this season opposite deep threat Robby Anderson.
NEXT: No. 7 through 5
7. Darron Lee
A couple of positions are simply loaded for this team. Safety is one. Wide receiver is another. Corner as well. And the one Darron Lee plays, inside backer.
Entering his third season in the league, the 23-year-old undersized Lee is the new breed of inside linebackers in the NFL. He’s the guy who may struggle in the seven-man-front base yet possesses the speed and agility to be that stud on passing downs.
Though the numbers lend to the idea he’s struggled against the pass thus far, don’t think that trend will continue. This kid is good. It’s not easy playing this position so undersized. Those first two seasons were an evil necessity.
6. Marcus Maye
All Day Maye, baby.
Marcus Maye is already one of the better centerfielders in the National Football League. With Jamal Adams sniffing the box and roaming the field, Maye plays the deep middle like a pro, already, after just one season.
It was interesting to see Maye selected just one round after Adams when O-line and edge rusher was still very much a desperate need, but it’s worked out. The Jets are set at safety for the next five-to-eight years—the new “most important” position on defense in the league (especially strong safety) for it’s the one matchup neutralizer (in taking away tight end and running back mismatches).
Maye picked off two passes to go along with 56 tackles in 2017. That’s simply child’s play for what’s to come.
5. Sam Darnold
Oh yes, you actually reached No. 6 while still not laying eyes on the name Sam Darnold. That’s done now. He’s the fifth-ranked Jet.
It’s not every day this organization is able to scoop up a potential franchise quarterback, yet they finally did it with the selection of Darnold at No. 3.
Forget rookie. Forget third string. What matters right now is talent, and Darnold has it.
Unless the Jets make it a serious point to hold him back, look for Darnold to impress immediately and start Week 1.
NEXT: No. 4 and 3
4. Robby Anderson
Can’t teach speed. It’s that simple.
Robby Anderson is the deep threat the New York Jets have lacked since Cyclops, the man we all loved by the name of Wesley Walker.
We saw it numerous times last year. Josh McCown would scan the defense, recognize Cover 3 or a press Cover 1 and know exactly who’d be open: Robby on the 9-route for the score.
Teamed with Big Q and solidified with tons of depth at the position, Robby Anderson could easily top 1,000 yards and 10 scores assuming the O-line at least holds up to an average level.
3. Trumaine Johnson
He’s yet to make a Pro Bowl appearance but it feels like he’s one of the best cornerbacks in the game. Sometimes it’s funny the way it works.
Trumaine Johnson represents Mike Maccagnan’s top free agent signing this past offseason and immediately provides incredible talent to a terrific secondary. With two picks and 13 passes defensed a season ago, Johnson will look to repeat his sound 2017 campaign, this time in Jersey.
NEXT: No. 2 and 1
2. Leonard Williams
And then there were two—the young two who lead a football organization.
Leonard Williams entered last year as the best player on the depth chart. He’s now at No. 2, perhaps through no fault of his own.
With only 2.5 sacks a season ago, the Big Cat simply doesn’t receive a fair shake. He’s constantly double-teamed and never has a shot of a one-on-one matchup en route to the QB. Against the rushing attack, he routinely beats double-teams.
Without an edge presence and, perhaps the worst edge rushing situation in the league, it’s going to stay this way for Williams for at least another season (unless somebody on the edge steps up in a major fashion).
1. Jamal Adams
Yes, it’s the president, the self-proclaimed pres (as he likes to call himself on Twitter).
Many are worried that Jamal Adams couldn’t come away with at least one interception during his rookie campaign. Worry not. Interceptions are not his game. Moreover, the Jets conventional rushing situation is so poor that it takes multiple interception opportunities away from every individual on defense.
Make no mistake: J-Adams is a stud and is the most talented Jet of the moment. Much like Williams, his Pro Bowl and even All-Pro success hedges on support, but even so, he’s good enough to overcome the worst of situations.
Jamal Adams, the president, is the new New York Jets leader on and off the field.