NY Jets: What to expect from third-round pick Jabari Zuniga

NY Jets (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

NY Jets’ third-round pick Jabari Zuniga figures to play a key rotational role in 2020.

It’s looking more likely that the NY Jets won’t add big-name free agent edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney. And perhaps the drafting of Florida pass rusher Jabari Zuniga in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft could have something to do with it.

While it would be nice to have the three-time Pro Bowler on the roster, it seems unlikely due to cap restraints. General manager Joe Douglas appears confident with the players that they currently have on the roster.

And the aforementioned Zuniga is one of those important players who will see time in the edge rush rotation this season.

Coming out of college, Zuniga was a possible first-round talent who fell in the draft because of his recent injury history. When healthy, Zuniga was one of the Gators’ most productive players on defense totaling 53 tackles and 18.5 sacks in his five-year college career.

Obviously, his biggest knock was that he was injury-prone in college. In his fifth and final year, he only played in five games due to an ankle injury he suffered early in the season against Kentucky.

The NY Jets could have one of the steals of the draft in Jabari Zuniga.

If he can stay healthy for Gang Green and performs the way he did while at Florida, the Jets might have a steal on their hands.

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Zuniga’s biggest strengths are that he is quick off the edge and that he plays with good play strength. He’s more of a run stopper than a true speed rusher, but he does get pressure on the quarterback from time to time.

His pass-rushing ability can get better under defensive coordinator Gregg Williams’ tutelage as he has the size, strength, and speed to play both on the interior and on the edge. But at least for 2020, expect him to be a key rotational piece on defense.

Overall, Zuniga has a ton of athletic ability for a 253-pound edge rusher with the potential to become more than simply a rotational front-seven defender with the right coaching staff.

I have faith in Gregg Williams to develop some of the young guys the Jets have acquired during the offseason especially after the incredible job he did last season.

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Zuniga could very well be one of those guys.