NY Jets: 3 surprise rookies who could become starters in 2020

NY Jets, Bryce Hall (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
NY Jets, Bryce Hall (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /
NY Jets (Photo by Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images) /

The NY Jets could have a handful of rookies see starting reps in 2020.

The NY Jets haven’t exactly found the most success in their recent draft classes. Be it in the short-term or long-term, the Jets have found it challenging to land players who could actually contribute to the organization in a meaningful way.

However, they’ll be hoping that their fortunes have changed with their most recent draft.

General manager Joe Douglas went into the 2020 NFL Draft in the midst of his first offseason with the team after taking over for Mike Maccagnan last June.

It was a unique set of circumstances for a first-year GM, to say the least, but it seems as though Douglas came away with a number of players who could make an early impact.

Of course, first and second-round picks Mekhi Becton and Denzel Mims are expected to play key roles right out of the gate. Both are projected to be Week 1 starters at their respective positions and it would be very disappointing if they weren’t.

But they aren’t the type of players this article will be focusing on.

Instead, we’ll be analyzing the unheralded rookies who many aren’t expecting to play major roles in their rookie season, but who might just end up doing so anyway.

Let’s take a look at three rookies who could surprisingly become starters by the end of the 2020 season.

Next: 3. Bryce Huff

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

3. Bryce Huff could start for the NY Jets in 2020

We start this list off by looking at a player who wasn’t even a part of the Jets’ nine-player draft class in undrafted rookie Bryce Huff.

Huff shined at the University of Memphis earning second-team All-AAC honors in both his junior and senior seasons. While not the most physically-gifted pass rusher, Huff still managed 16 sacks over his final two collegiate seasons.

That’s primarily due to his high motor and highly-touted work ethic that made him a fan-favorite with the Tigers. And that could be his ticket to securing not only a roster spot, but a role on defense this season.

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Huff is the only player on this list who’s not guaranteed a spot on the final 53-man roster, but given the Jets’ overwhelming lack of edge-rusher talent, it won’t take a dominant preseason to prove that he’s worth a spot.

He’ll be competing with the likes of Frankie Luvu, Harvey Langi, and Wyatt Ray for one of the final edge rusher spots on the roster. And if he makes the team, he’ll probably have to usurp Tarell Basham for the starting spot opposite Jordan Jenkins.

The Jets will mix in the likes of third-round rookie Jabari Zuniga and Kyle Phillips there as well. But Huff’s quick first step and relentless energy give him as good of a shot as any to win the job.

Don’t expect him to be a starter right out of the gate, but don’t be surprised if Huff forces his way on to the field for a high percentage of defensive snaps by the season’s end.

Next: 2. Bryce Hall

NY Jets (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

2. Bryce Hall could start for the NY Jets in 2020

While the focus has undoubtedly been on the work the Jets did to improve their offensive line in the offseason, the additions they made at the cornerback position have seemingly gone overlooked.

But make no mistake about it, the Jets have serious depth at cornerback and fifth-round rookie Bryce Hall is a large reason for that.

Hall was considered one of the best cornerbacks in all of college football going into 2019 after a breakout junior season that saw him named second-team All-American and first-team All-ACC.

Unfortunately, the 22-year-old suffered a devastating ankle injury just six games into the season effectively ending his senior season and tanking his draft stock in the process.

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A player who was a consensus Day 2 pick (with a chance to become a Day 1 pick if he played the whole year) fell all the way to the Jets in the fifth round. But if he’s healthy, expect Hall to quickly outplay his draft status.

Hall will be competing with the likes of Blessuan Austin, Quincy Wilson, and Arthur Maulet for the starting cornerback job opposite free-agent signing Pierre Desir. Austin is considered the early favorite, but he’s far from a guarantee.

The former Rutgers star has his own extensive injury history and there’s no promise that he follows up his success from the final third of the season last year.

Hall could very well steal that job and it wouldn’t be shocking to see him receiving starting reps by the end of the season.

Next: 1. Cameron Clark

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

1. Cameron Clark could start for the NY Jets in 2020

Plenty of attention has been given to first-round pick Mekhi Becton, but the former Louisville star isn’t the only offensive lineman the Jets drafted in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Fourth-round pick Cameron Clark may not be asked to start Week 1 as will be the case with Becton, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t viewed as a future starter along the offensive line.

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Clark was drafted as an offensive tackle, but most analysts projected him as a guard at the NFL level. And that’s likely where his future lies with the Jets.

The team is still high on Chuma Edoga and want him to be the future starter at right tackle. Meanwhile, free-agent signing George Fant will be the player competing with Edoga for that starting job in the preseason.

Instead, Clark’s future is likely at guard. But could that future arrive as soon as 2020? It’s not probable, but it’s possible.

The Jets are expected to start Alex Lewis and Greg Van Roten at guard — provided the latter beats out Brian Winters for the right guard job. But if either struggles and Clark proves that he’s ready, he could be called into action.

That’s doubly true if the Jets decide to cut Winters and his $7 million salary before the start of the season. That would leave the likes of Ben Braden, Jonotthan Harrison, and Josh Andrews as Clark’s only competition at guard.

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It isn’t a scenario being discussed very much, but don’t be surprised if Cameron Clark starts at least a handful of games in his rookie season.