NY Jets: Quinnen Williams could be a player to watch in 2020

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

The NY Jets will need players like Quinnen Williams to step up in a suddenly-depleted defense.

The Jamal Adams saga finally came to an end late last month for the NY Jets.

The Jets sent the Pro Bowl safety and a fourth-round draft pick to the Seattle Seahawks in exchange for two first-round picks, a third-round pick, and safety Bradley McDougald, who will immediately be inserted into the starting lineup.

Although it seemingly had to happen and despite the fact that the Jets received an impressive haul in return for Adams, the fact remains that the team is now without a player that was previously its best on defense.

And to make matters worse for the green and white, star linebacker C.J. Mosley, who missed the majority of last season due to injury, opted out for the 2020 campaign earlier this week.

And while Mosley’s reasons for doing so are understandable given the current state of the world amid the COVID-19 pandemic, his decision is undoubtedly another brutal blow to the Jets defense.

With Adams and Mosley both gone, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams will have to dig into his toolbox and get creative to find success this season.

In addition to that, however, the Jets will also need certain players to step up on defense and one player to keep an eye on in regards to that is second-year defensive lineman Quinnen Williams.

Prior to the 2019 NFL Draft, Williams was a highly touted prospect with some even considering him to be the very best player in the draft class.

And this praise was warranted, as Williams had a monster 2019 season at Alabama where he totaled 71 tackles, 19.5 tackles for a loss, and eight sacks.

Given his physical skills in addition to his performance for the Crimson Tide, it made sense for the Jets to draft him with the third overall pick in the draft despite having a plethora of other holes to fill.

At the time, the Jets believed they were getting a generational talent in Williams — an energetic buzzsaw who could drastically improve the team’s pass rush from the interior.

Unfortunately, Williams didn’t live up that billing in his rookie season, appearing in 13 games and totaling just 28 tackles and two-and-a-half sacks.

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In his defense, however, there are reasons as to why the 22-year-old struggled, the most prominent being a lingering ankle injury that forced him to miss multiple weeks and bothered him throughout the season.

In addition to his injury, it’s important to remember that Williams only played two seasons at Alabama and was only a starter for one. He’s still a bit inexperienced at the highest level and needs time to develop.

Quinnen Williams may have struggled in his rookie season, but the NY Jets are still very optimistic about his future.

Despite his rookie struggles, however, Williams shouldn’t be counted out just yet. He clearly has the talent and it seems as if he’s been working throughout the offseason as well, appearing to be leaner and in better shape, which could result in a faster and more explosive player.

Simply put, a big season could be in store for the young lineman and it’s no secret that the Jets sure could use it. Now without Adams and Mosley, the Jets may lack leadership and playmaking ability on defense.

And while Williams is a completely different player than both Adams and Mosley, he’s proven before that he can be a force against both the pass and the run and the Jets will likely be counting on him to provide pressure from the inside.

It’s also important to remember that the Jets traded Leonard Williams to the NY Giants last season. While he typically underperformed in terms of pass-rush production, he was decent in the run game and oftentimes, at the very least, put pressure on the quarterback.

With him gone, Quinnen Williams will be counted on even more on the defensive line.

Ultimately, the Jets will likely be expecting a big season out of an improved Williams. And if he’s healthy and in shape, there’s certainly a possibility that Williams could step up as a game-changer on a defense that will look a bit different than it did a year ago.

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Will the 22-year-old live up to all of the hype he had entering the NFL? Only time will tell, but he’ll undoubtedly be a player to keep an eye on in 2020.