NY Jets: 3 players primed to take a huge leap in 2020

NY Jets (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images) /
NY Jets (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images) /

The NY Jets made progress in 2019 despite what could have been a disastrous year. Which players are set to make a huge leap forward in 2020?

The NY Jets managed to improve upon their awful 5-11 record from 2018 and somehow finished the 2019 season with seven wins. And after their 1-7 start, that has to be considered quite the accomplishment.

Even if they backed into that record with narrow defeats over lackluster opponents, there’s still something to be said about a 6-2 finish to a season — especially given how poorly the team started.

Going into 2020, the Jets will be relying on a number of young players to continue their development and take the next step towards stardom.

And given that 2020 is a so-called “leap year,” we thought it would be fun to discuss a few players who might take that next leap forward — so to speak — in the upcoming season.

In the spirit of February 29th, here are three Jets players poised to take huge leaps in 2020.

Next: 3. Chuma Edoga

NY Jets (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

3. Chuma Edoga, OT

When the Jets selected USC offensive tackle Chuma Edoga in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft, they knew they were getting a high-upside prospect who needed time to develop.

And that’s exactly what the team saw during his rookie season.

Edoga entered the season as a backup but soon took over the starting right tackle job from the incumbent Brandon Shell. He would go on to start eight games before a knee injury suffered in Week 12 ended his season prematurely.

In those eight games, we saw glimpses of Edoga’s ceiling, but more so, we saw the reason he was considered to be a “developmental prospect.”

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Edoga struggled in the run game and wasn’t much better in pass protection getting overpowered by power rushers and having his footwork exposed by speed rushers. For his efforts, he earned an abysmal 48.9 Pro Football Focus grade as a rookie.

However, it is worth noting that nearly every rookie offensive tackle struggled in 2019, as is the case for most rookies at the position. There is reason to believe that Edoga will improve immensely with another year of starting experience in 2020.

And the Jets seem to think so as well as he’s expected to be one of only two or so starting linemen to return as a starter next season.

Look for Edoga to take that huge second-year leap in 2020 as he tries to establish himself as a starter of the future.

Next: 2. Quinnen Williams

NY Jets (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

2. Quinnen Williams, DL

Quinnen Williams was a massive disappointment in 2019, there really is no way around that.

The Jets selected Williams third overall in last year’s draft with the expectation that he would be an immediate game-wrecker in both the passing and running games.

Unfortunately, he fell short of nearly every expectation in his rookie season. However, none of this means that he should be considered a lost cause just yet.

Williams only played 46.29 percent of snaps last year and came away with just 2.5 sacks and 28 tackles. However, his Pro Football Focus grade of 67.5 is evidence that he was doing his part.

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Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams opted to deploy Williams as more of a two-gap run stopper and he wasn’t used extensively on passing downs. That partially explains his lack of splash plays as a pass rusher.

But perhaps more importantly, Williams wasn’t nearly as NFL ready as first anticipated. The Alabama product was just 21-years-old at the time of his debut and still has a lot of room to grow as a player.

Yes, his rookie season was disappointing. But it’s still far too early to label him a “bust” or give up on him. Remember, Khalil Mack didn’t even record his first sack until Week 12 of his rookie season. Sometimes it takes young players a while to catch up to the speed of the NFL game.

In Williams’ case, it will take a change of role and more refined technique for him to truly reach his potential at the NFL level. He’s young and has the talent to succeed.

Now it’s all about putting everything together. Expect him to show his first signs of NFL stardom in 2020.

Next: 1. Sam Darnold

NY Jets (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images) /

1. Sam Darnold, QB

It’s been a rough two years for Sam Darnold. After an up-and-down rookie season, many expected the former USC star to take that huge leap in his second NFL campaign.

Unfortunately, fate had different plans for him.

From an early-season case of mononucleosis to the infamous “seeing ghosts” game on primetime television against the New England Patriots, Darnold endured more heartache in one season than many quarterbacks go through in a career.

But when all was set and done, Darnold came through it all standing tall on the other side.

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And if there was any reason not to sour on Darnold’s potential, that has to be it.

Despite the mess that he went through in 2019, the 22-year-old actually came away with better stats than his rookie season. Darnold finished with a much-improved 61.9 percent completion percentage as well as 3,024 yards to go along with 19 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

Each figure was an improvement from his rookie season in which he started the same number of games, 13. And perhaps the most important stat of all, Darnold actually finished the year with a winning record as a starter at 7-6.

He will need an improved supporting cast, but there’s no reason that Darnold can’t develop into a top-15 quarterback by the conclusion of the 2020 season — provided he receives a little help.

He’ll need a more competent display of coaching, an improved offensive line, and some additional offensive weapons. But Darnold can be the next great New York quarterback.

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And 2020 could be the year that he finally takes that huge leap towards greatness.