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New York Jets: 5 green and white candidates for the 2020 ‘NFL Top 100’

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 02: Le'Veon Bell of the Pittsburgh Steelers attends SiriusXM at Super Bowl LII Radio Row at the Mall of America on February 2, 2018 in Bloomington, Minnesota. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 02: Le'Veon Bell of the Pittsburgh Steelers attends SiriusXM at Super Bowl LII Radio Row at the Mall of America on February 2, 2018 in Bloomington, Minnesota. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM)
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(Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images)

With the 2019 NFL Top-100 complete, it got us thinking, which New York Jets should be in the running for the 2020 NFL Top-100?

The NFL Network has just finished unveiling its list of the NFL Top 100 Players in 2019, and as expected, only two New York Jets made an appearance, that is brand new linebacker CJ Mosley and Pro Bowl safety Jamal Adams. Despite this, the Jets actually have quite a talented roster, and with so many young players ready to break out, Gang Green may surprise quite a few people during the 2019 season.

While the team is a long way away from making a deep playoff run or even having a shot at the New England Patriots and the AFC East crown, a wild card berth in 2019 is a definite possibility, but that only happens if all the teams’ stars play to their potential.

Making the NFL Top 100 may not seem like an achievement many players are going after, but being given the respect of your peers is second to none, and the Jets are sick of being overlooked, so that adds an extra layer of motivation to the 2019 squad. While injuries and other unforeseen circumstances always play a part in football, the team is working hard and has the talent, so expect a lot of perceptions about the Jets to be changed in the coming year.

From former All-Pro Backs to rising young stars, the Jets have the roster to make a run to the playoffs in 2019, and if that can be achieved, there will be plenty of New York players getting recognition for it. With that being said, here are the five players from the New York Jets that may find themselves on the NFL Network’s ‘NFL Top 100’ in 2020 (only ones that didn’t appear on the 2019 list), given they play and perhaps even exceed expectations for the 2019 season.

Next: 5. Le'Veon Bell

5. RB Le’Veon Bell

In 2018, then Pittsburgh Steelers Running Back was ranked No. 5 in the NFL Top 100 list, and given how motivated he seems to be with his childhood team, he could get back to that form this coming season. Bell’s skillset is incredibly unique in today’s NFL, as he is just as effective as a pass-catcher as he is a traditional back, and with all of his physical traits, he remains one of the best in the game.

There are guys like Ezekiel Elliot, Alvin Kamara, Todd Gurley and so many others who are doing great work all over the NFL, but with his skillset, if Bell can stay healthy in 2019, there’s no doubt he’s just as good, if not better than all of them. Working behind this Jets O-Line will be different from anything he’s worked with before in the NFL. Although in fairness with a young QB, Bell will shoulder more responsibility than he ever has before, but he’s talented enough to thrive on that.

As mentioned, Bell has been as high as No. 5 on the NFL Top 100 before, and while we can’t see him immediately jumping that high, a top 10-20 berth is almost a given for Le’Veon and his talent. Ultimately, team success will be much more important to Bell, seeing as how he left a playoff contender to take a chance on the Jets, and if that can be achieved, he’ll be regarded as one of the best backs in the game once again.

After having a year away from the game to sort out contractual issues, Bell is motivated and excited to join his new team, and with young QB Sam Darnold at the helm, this pairing could be quite special. Unlike Pittsburgh, the Jets don’t have an elite offensive line, so this will put more pressure on the former Steelers star, but if he comes back anywhere near the player he once was, he’ll be back in the top half of this list for certain.

Next: 4. Leonard Williams

4. DL Leonard Williams

Leonard Williams has shown flashes of greatness since coming into the NFL, but due to little help alongside him on the Jets defensive line, he’s struggled to put consistent performances together thus far. The ‘Big Cat’ has all the skills and attributes it takes to be one of the leagues best pass-rushers, and now it looks like the Jets have some talent alongside him, it may finally come together.

With elite-level talent behind him as well, Williams will become much more effective, and seeing the leap that so many great players have had under defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, it’s now or never for Williams. Alongside Sheldon Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson, Williams was a great player early on in his career, even reaching the 2016 Pro Bowl, but since losing that help alongside him, he’s been stopped by double teams and sometimes has become non-existent upfront for the Jets.

With the additions of Jachai Polite and Quinnen Williams, some attention will be taken away from Leonard and using all of his skills and moves to get to the QB, we could see him returning to the form that made him a Pro Bowler three years ago. The O-Line has improved quite a bit in 2019 too, and that will force him to step up in training camp, and if iron truly does sharpen iron as the saying goes, 2019 will be the best year of Leonard’s career.

Ultimately, there are much better players in the NFL at getting to the QB and disrupting an offense, so don’t expect him to climb up to the level of a JJ Watt or Aaron Donald, but given his talent and prior production for the Jets, it wouldn’t shock anyone to see him make it into the No. 80- No. 100 range in 2020.

Next: 3. Sam Darnold

3. QB Sam Darnold

After years of toiling and struggling at the QB position, the Jets have seemingly now found their man, and if Sam Darnold can make the second-year leap that so many people expect, he could be a breakout star in 2019. With Jamison Crowder and Le’Veon Bell joining the team in 2019, the former Trojan star has plenty of weapons around him, and after a decent rookie campaign, Darnold has the hopes of New York securely on his shoulders.

We’ve seen the second-year leap in QB’s such as Carson Wentz and Jared Goff over the past few seasons, and given the potential and maturity that Darnold showed throughout his rookie year, Jets Nation expect similar in 2019. Sam has a level head on and off the field, and his arm strength has reportedly improved since his rookie year, and with all these factors coming together, Jets fans can’t help but become optimistic again.

The O-Line was bad in Sam’s rookie year too, but with the additions of Ryan Kalil and Kelechi Osemele, he’ll be a lot more comfortable in the pocket, and that will help not only him but Le’Veon Bell and the entire offense. The team will be without Chris Herndon for the first four games of the season, and that will definitely have a negative effect on the team’s production, but when the whole team gets together (and hopefully stays healthy together), Sam Darnold will be in contention for the NFL’s ‘Most Improved’ player in 2019.

There’s still plenty of growing up for him to do, but given the glowing reports from training camp, Darnold may be the answer that Jets fans have been waiting for since Broadway Joe Namath. Baker Mayfield came in at No. 50 this past year after his rookie season, and while Darnold won’t make that big a leap, expect him to be in the No. 70 through no. 90 range in 2020, with a potential Pro Bowl berth on the way as well.

Next: 2. Robby Anderson

2. WR Robby Anderson

Due to the lack of quality play at the QB position for the Jets, their receiving corps hasn’t looked good for a number of years, but in 2019, it looks like this may be one of the best groups in the AFC. Although Robby isn’t a traditional No. 1, he’s got all the talent in the world, and with Le’Veon Bell attracting attention in the backfield, it may finally be the year for Anderson to step up and lead this group to success.

With the additions of Josh Bellamy, Ty Montgomery, Le’Veon Bell, and Jamison Crowder, plenty of attention will be taken away from Robby in 2019, and with Sam Darnold looking to improve, Anderson could be a Pro Bowl candidate as well. Sure, the former undrafted free agent isn’t the strongest receiver, and he definitely needs to work on his catching, but the upside is fantastic for the Jets, and he could make a huge impact in 2019.

Quincy Enunwa is also a sneaky candidate to make the NFL Top 100, but he needs to stay healthy first, and as such, Robby needs to solidify himself as the Jets No. 1 receiver. In 2020 Free Agency, the Jets will no doubt be looking for a No. 1 to pair with Anderson to make this offense as dynamic and dangerous as possible, but for right now, Darnold is riding with Anderson as his lead guy, and given the deep threat he’s become, that may be enough for this offense to break out and scare some teams.

The Darnold-Anderson connection built throughout 2018, and the chemistry between the two blossomed, so with more weapons to distract from the deep threat in Robby, he could torch a lot of teams in 2019. He’s not one of the top WR’s in football, and he’s never going to be mentioned among the elite (Brown, Jones, Hopkins, Thomas etc.), but don’t be surprised if Robby Anderson has a breakout year and is featured in the back half of the NFL Top 100.

Next: 1. Quinnen Williams

1. DL Quinnen Williams

Over the past four years, the Jets have drafted Leonard Williams, Jamal Adams, and Sam Darnold, and with their 2019 selection of Quinnen Williams, they may have completed their rebuild towards AFC East supremacy. That’s not going to happen in 2019, but the culture around the Jets has shifted dramatically, and with Quinnen Williams, his big talent and personality in New York, it’s hard to not see him succeeding in the NFL.

There were six rookies in the 2019 Top 100 (with the highest being Darius Leonard at No. 26), so the precedent is there for Williams to succeed, and he’ll make an impact from day one. Whether it’s getting to the QB, eating up double teams for the other pass-rushers on the line or stopping the run, Quinnen can do it all, and as he rises, he’ll become a star and one of the most likable players in the entire NFL.

At Alabama, Quinnen showed quickness, versatility, power and a motor that few D-Lineman in the entire 2019 Draft are capable of showing, and while Josh Allen was a possible pick at No. 3, the Jets have made the right call. Only time will tell how quickly Quinnen adjusts to the NFL game, but he’s reportedly impressed at training camp, and if fellow rookie Jachai Polite can step up to make an impact, Williams will be allowed to do much more damage.

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If the team is to succeed in 2019, the defense needs to step up big time, and if the Williams boys upfront can do their job, opposing QB’s will be running scared, and Quinnen will be a big reason for that. We’ve seen some poor D-Line selections over the past 20 years, but the former Alabama star has everything it takes to be an elite level player in the NFL, and while the Jets were highly overlooked in the 2019 NFL Top 100, don’t expect it to happen again.

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