As the New York Jets prepare for 2017, their roster might not be the strongest but they have some great players that stand out from the rest. Here are their top five players heading into the upcoming season.
Let’s face it, reality says the New York Jets are in for a long season in 2017. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be a complete disaster as the Jets do have several players on their team capable of turning games into their favor.
It won’t be easy but since the Jets are fully rebuilding towards a better future, they have a nice nucleus of young players that are also experienced in the NFL. Experience is the name of the game as several players on the Jets should be able to help all the rookies and inexperienced on the team develop as the season progresses.
Of course, many things can change throughout the season but if the Jets have the right culture in place, especially with coaching, they should be able to end the season with a few victories. This team is far from being a playoff contender but at the end of the day, do have some bright players on the team with a high ceiling.
Without further ado, here are the top five players on the Jets ranked on just how important they are to the franchise this upcoming season.
Next: 5. Running back Bilal Powell
5. Running back Bilal Powell
Starting on the offensive side of the football, running back Bilal Powell has been a consistent contributor for the Jets year in and year out.
After being a role player for much of his career, Powell broke out in a big way for the Jets in 2015 as he became an integral part of their offense as a runner and a receiver out of the backfield.
Powell continued to impress in 2016 racking up a total of 1,110 yards from scrimmage. With Matt Forte now 31 years of age and the Jets in the midst of a transition phase, Powell will finally get a chance to prove he can be an every down running back.
Much like Quincy Enunwa at wide receiver, the Jets will be expecting a lot more from the seven-year pro out of Louisville.
Next: 4. Wide receiver Quincy Enunwa
4. Wide receiver Quincy Enunwa
Staying on the offensive side of the football, Enunwa has turned out to be a diamond in the rough for Gang Green.
A sixth round pick by former general manager John Idzik back in 2014, Enunwa has gotten better each and every year and will now be the Jets number one receiver with Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall no longer around.
Enunwa posted career highs across the board last year tallying 58 receptions, 857 yards, and four touchdowns. Now that he’s finally the focal point of the Jets offense, those numbers should steadily increase and it may not be long before Enunwa pushes himself into the upper echelon of receivers in the NFL.
Question marks at quarterback will certainly stunt Enunwa’s growth to some extent but it shouldn’t stop the talented playmaker from leading the team in all three major statistical categories and once again, notching career highs.
Next: 3. Defensive end Sheldon Richardson
3. Defensive end Sheldon Richardson
It has been well documented over the last several years the great talent that the Jets possess on their defensive line as Sheldon Richardson has been one of the original anchors.
After bursting onto the scene his first two years in the league, Richardson looked bound for stardom. However, his career has fallen off the path the last two years some of which the result of off the field issues.
Richardson first served a four-game suspension in 2015, and then a one-game suspension in 2016 for an arrest back in July of 2015, and his play on the field has appeared to take a dip because of it.
The Jets have openly tried to shop Richardson but have seemingly gained very little traction. It’s quite possible that the only reason why Richardson remains with the Jets heading into the 2017 season is that due to his off the field issues and struggles on the field, the Jets have been unable to attain fair value for a player that has elite talent.
A first team All Pro back in 2014, Richardson has at times the last two years been moved to outside linebacker which has only hurt his stock. The move kept him from being the dynamic lineman he was his first two years in the league. A return to form for Richardson in 2017 will likely signal the end of his tenure with the Jets which would be beneficial for the franchise if they’re able to land a top draft pick as a result.
Next: 2. Defensive End Muhammad Wilkerson
2. Defensive End Muhammad Wilkerson
After breaking his leg in the Jets season finale loss to the Buffalo Bills back in 2015, Muhammad Wilkerson took a step backward in 2016.
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Wilkerson’s reputation off the field also took a hit as he was evidently late to team meetings far too often. It also didn’t help matters that he had just signed a massive five-year $86M contract back in July.
Many fans and members of the media blasted Mo and accused him of packing it in now that he finally been paid the big bucks he had been waiting for.
Never once did anyone take into account that he was six months removed from massive leg surgery. While I can’t excuse Wilkerson for being late and/or missing team meetings, players usually aren’t the same the year after a major operation.
I think it’s fair to expect a return to form for the rejuvenated-lineman who will be playing with a major chip on his shoulder all year long.
Next: 1. Defensive end Leonard Williams
1. Defensive end Leonard Williams
After falling to the Jets at No. 6 in the 2015 NFL Draft, Leonard Williams has proved everybody who passed on him wrong. During his first two years in the league, Williams has established himself as one of the best defensive linemen in the NFL, and a leader on the Jets defense.
A quiet, humble kid, Williams leads his actions and with a roster full of question marks he provides the Jets with a sense of certainty and stability.
Williams is the centerpiece of the Jets rebuild and will be a building block for years to come, especially with his outstanding ability to play both the run and the pass.
A Pro Bowler last season, the former USC Trojan’s great NFL career is just getting started and the Jets should be happy that No. 92 is one of theirs.