On July 24th, ESPN Insider reporters Mel Kiper Jr and Mike Sando ranked who they believe to be the NFL’s top 25 players under age 25, and two of our New York Jets made the list.
Defensive ends Muhammad “Mo” Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson were ranked number four and number twelve, respectively, on the ESPN list and deservedly so. Both players had excellent 2013 seasons, especially Wilkerson with a career-high 10.5 sacks.
Wilkerson was selected as a first alternate for the 2013 Pro Bowl, was voted number 42 on the NFL Network’s Top 100 Players of 2014 list, and was given the 2013 Jets team Curtis Martin Most Valuable Player award.
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Richardson was named the 2013 Associated Press Defensive Rookie of the Year, was named NFL Rookie of the Month in November, and became the first defensive lineman to score a rushing touchdown since 2011.
The Jets can proudly boast that they have two-thirds of the best DEs in the league who are under the age of 25. But, let’s be honest, we can boast that we have two of the best DEs in the league despite their ages.
Now that the Jets have exercised the fifth year option with Wilkerson, it’s high time to pay the man “Mo” money. He has proven that he is a very skilled and valuable player. Wilkerson has even said that he wants to be a “Jet for life.” Everybody knows, including Wilkerson himself, that he’s being underpaid, but that could, and should, change.
“Do I feel that I’m underpaid right now? Yeah,” Wilkerson told the New York Daily News on Thursday after the Jets’ first training camp practice. “But that’s part of the business. My time will come when I get a new contract. But right now I’m just worried about becoming a better player, a better teammate and a better leader.”
The future of the Jets defense is bright. We have all these young guys that are committed to the team and committed to excellence. This year’s defense is going to be great, not only because of these two stand-out players, but as a whole. Although, having two of the best defensive players in the league doesn’t hurt. They all worked really hard last season and are already working hard this season at training camp.