As the New York Jets prepare for the upcoming season, they will need to rely on their second-year players to make them somewhat competitive.
The gloomy predictions for the 2017 season of the New York Jets are abundant heading into training camp. The Jets season relies on second-year players development. Sure, there will be other factors involved, rookies have been added, free agents have been signed, and players injured last year will try to bounce back. All that is great, but the team desperately needs for second-year players to step up and lead.
The first player everyone will have an eye on this summer is quarterback Christian Hackenberg. The young signal caller was taken by the team in the second round of last year’s draft and was redshirted throughout his rookie campaign. With little else at the quarterback position, the Jets are hoping for Hackenberg to take the reigns of this team and lead the way. Neither Josh McCown or Bryce Petty are legitimate options, so the hope lies on Hackenberg’s shoulders.
Linebacker Darron Lee was the team’s first-round pick from a year ago, and the team needs him to step into the starting role at inside linebacker. Lee was highly hyped going into last season but didn’t produce as many expected. With the release of linebacker David Harris in June, the team hopes Lee can step up and produce at a higher level in year two. The Jets have looked for other options during the offseason, including bringing in linebacker Zach Orr as recently as this past Saturday. A lot depends on Lee’s development, the team has very little depth behind him.
Linebacker Jordan Jenkins is yet another player the team needs to develop. Last year’s third-round pick played well towards the end of last season, and the fans are hoping he can build on his success and continue to show development. Jenkins played very well against the run last season, and the hope is that Kevin Greene can develop his pass rushing techniques. A breakout year from Jenkins would be a huge plus for the Jets front seven.
Cornerback Juston Burris comes into this summer’s camp with huge expectations on his shoulders. The fourth round cornerback saw some action in 2016, but hardly enough to know if he can handle a bigger role this year. While filling in for the injured and ineffective Darrelle Revis last season, Burris fared quite well. This year, however, he’ll be vying for a full-time role, with many expecting him to start opposite Morris Claiborne. That’s a big jump, and Burris will need to prove he’s up for the job this summer.
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Offensive tackle Brandon Shell came in as a fifth-round pick for the team, and he too saw some action in his rookie campaign. Shell will need to compete for a starting role this summer and it’s the team’s hope that he can come right out of the gate and claim his spot.
Shell impressed many last season and with questions surrounding the makeup of this offensive line, a successful camp for him will go a long way towards arranging the pieces.
Punter Lach Edwards was one of two seventh round picks of a year ago. Edwards punted 75 times last season and placed 24 of those inside the 20-yard line. He fared well enough last season, but the Jets would like to see him come out with a stronger leg this summer. Edwards averaged 43.1 yards per punt, with four of those resulting in touchbacks. If Edwards can continue to develop, he’ll help a strong defense in their efforts when the Jets offense stalls.
Wide receiver Charone Peake rounds out last season’s draft class. The wide receiver has the potential to have a breakout camp this summer. Peake has great size for a receiver and his 4.45 speed has the capability to keep defenses honest in coverage. At 6’2″/209lbs., if Peake can continue to develop this summer, it would be welcome news for John Morton’s offense.
All of these players, as young as they are, are being depended on to play big for the Jets in 2017. The team dismissed a large contingent of veterans this past offseason, which left them short of leadership. The hope is these players along with others will step up and produce on the football field and lead in the locker room. The potential is clearly there, training camp will prove whether they are up to the task, but they are being heavily depended on to make this season a successful one.