Heading into his second year with the New York Jets, defense end Leonard Williams will need to do his best to avoid the dreaded sophomore slump.
Williams was the first round pick of the New York Jets back in the 2015 NFL Draft. While he didn’t put up incredible numbers in his rookie season, many felt that he showed good progress throughout the season and looks like a player to watch going into to the regular season. However, after successful rookie seasons, fans of every team always dread the “sophomore slump”.
While the sophomore slump isn’t a scientifically proven factor, many players have experienced a sophomore slump. While it isn’t the end all be all of a player’s career, there are a lot of implications based on Williams’ performance this year.
One of the biggest offseason storylines for the Jets has been the Muhammad Wilkerson contract situation. As of now, he is still a member of the Jets and general manager Mike Maccagnan has said that a Wilkerson trade is “unlikely”.
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However, if Wilkerson is traded or in the event he leaves in free agency next season, Williams may be asked to step in and fill Wilkerson’s role and that would be a big role to fill.
Not only was Williams the first round pick of the Jetslast year, but he is also the first ever draft pick in the Mike Maccagnan era.
The success of every draft pick is important, but as a general manager, the success of your first round pick can have a great impact in determining how long you can keep your job.
Is it a coincidence that John Idzik’s first ever draft pick in 2013 was cornerback Dee Milliner? While Milliner (whose fifth year option was declined) has shown potential, it would be tough to argue Milliner’s stats and production warrant him being taken in the first round let alone the top 10.
To be fair, Idzik had two first round picks in 2013 and the other one (defensive end Sheldon Richardson) worked out pretty well but let’s also remember that one of those picks was acquired in the Darrelle Revis trade to Tampa Bay.
Now there’s no way to know if that trade was the right move or not, but the fact is Milliner hasn’t panned out and the looming shadows of other notorious Jets busts such as defensive end Vernon Gholston and defensive tackle DeWayne Robertson are hanging over Jets fans. So far though, Williams showed good progress in his rookie season but taking the next step and justifying being a top overall selections is a whole new challenge.