As another lost New York Jets season unfolds, it’s time to evaluate this 53-man roster from top to bottom. Let’s continue this daily ranking with #44, Jordan Willis.
Outside Linebacker, New York Jets
Willis was the Cincinnati Bengals’ 2017 third-round pick and played in 32 games over two seasons. He made this year’s roster and then got caught up in a numbers game.
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Those who saw the Jets humiliating loss to the winless Bengals know it was driven by a deep front-seven led by Geno Atkins.
So, Willis was among 11 D-lineman to make this year’s Bengals opening roster. Two days after the team’s opener, they tried to pass Willis through waivers.
Within hours, the Jets pounced. That September 11th signing has been general manager Joe Douglas‘ finest under-the-radar move to date, as Willis has become an effective weapon in the arsenal of defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.
Willis and Quinnen Williams share virtually identical stat lines in terms of sacks and solo tackles. But Willis has done so with just a fraction of the first-rounder’s reps — at times inactive as a healthy scratch.
It will be interesting to see how much of Willis’ dramatic decline in edge-rushing production over his first two pro seasons had to do with the team’s insistence he gain 30 pounds.
The Jets have many important decisions to make this offseason, including here. Willis is a legit situational pass rusher with a nose for the ball, who fits the system and works well with the defensive coordinator.
He has the requisite size, skillset, and “motor” to develop into that vital pass-rushing role which the Jets so badly need help with. But will Willis again fall victim to the number’s game in New York?