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The NY Jets have enjoyed the play of these three surprising standouts thus far in 2020.
The NY Jets have seen their fair share of disappointments in 2020. At the end of the day, the Jets themselves, have been a massive disappointment this year.
Expectations were far from sky-high, but they were certainly above what’s felt like rock-bottom for a number of weeks now.
Nonetheless, despite the disappointments continuing to pile up, the Jets have also been fortunate enough to bear witness to a few surprising standouts this season.
Now that we’re officially at the halfway point of the season, it makes sense to take a look back at the first half and try to find any semblance of optimism in a very pessimistic organization.
But we’re not just looking for players who everyone expected to be good this season. The likes of Jamison Crowder and Marcus Maye might be playing exceptionally well at the moment, but their success isn’t particularly “surprising.”
Instead, we’ll be taking a look at the overachievers — the guys who have outplayed their projections in 2020.
With that, let’s explore the three most surprising standouts for the Jets through eight games this season.
Next: 3. Bryce Huff
3. Bryce Huff, OLB, NY Jets
Of the nine initial undrafted free agents that signed with the Jets shortly following the conclusion of the 2020 NFL Draft, perhaps no player received more hype than former Memphis pass-rusher Bryce Huff.
That hype was likely helped by the fact that he received the most guaranteed money of all the team’s undrafted signees, but it also had plenty to do with his talent.
Huff isn’t the most athletic player, but he became a fan-favorite at Memphis for his relentless work ethic and on-field energy. For that reason, many saw him as a player who could not only make the 53-man roster, but play a sizable role on defense in 2020.
And that’s exactly what’s happened to this point.
Huff made his NFL debut in Week 3 and has gradually seen his playing time increase with each week. Just this past Sunday, Huff played in a whopping 70 percent of defensive snaps marking a new career-high.
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This isn’t a coincidence either, his play has certainly warranted an increase in snaps. While he isn’t exactly setting the world on fire, Huff has been fairly effective as both a run-defender and pass-rusher and is currently ranked as Pro Football Focus‘ 56th-highest edge defender.
That’s around league average — not bad for an undrafted rookie. His eight pressures going into this past week were also tied for second among all rookie edge rushers behind just Chase Young, the No. 2 overall pick in this year’s draft.
Huff has worked his way into a starting role — a role he doesn’t seem likely to relinquish any time soon.
Next: 2. John Franklin-Myers
NY Jets Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
2. John Franklin-Myers, DL, NY Jets
Another player who’s emerged virtually out of nowhere this season has been defensive lineman John Franklin-Myers.
A fourth-round pick of the Los Angeles Rams in 2018, the Jets claimed Franklin-Myers off waivers shortly after cut day last season. However, injuries would force him to the sideline for the entire campaign.
A strong showing in training camp allowed him to earn his way on to the 53-man roster and it quickly became apparent that a much bigger role was in store for him.
The former Stephen F. Austin star has forced his way into the starting lineup and is now playing around 50 percent of defensive snaps per game.
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His 74.3 Pro Football Focus grade is proof of his excellent play and he ranks in the top-15 interior defensive linemen as a pass-rusher this season, per PFF. While his play has slightly tailed off in recent weeks, he remains a fixture of the defense.
And at just 24-years-old, there’s no reason why Franklin-Myers shouldn’t be considered a true building block of the defensive line going forward.
Pairing him with the equally impressive Quinnen Williams could give the Jets a duo of very effective pass-rushers in the interior of their defensive line.
From a waiver claim to a potential long-term starter, Franklin-Myers has solidified himself as one of the Jets’ biggest surprises of 2020.
Next: 1. Mekhi Becton
1. Mekhi Becton, OT, NY Jets
The Jets obviously had high expectations for Mekhi Becton after using the 11th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft on the man they hoped would become their franchise left tackle.
The plan was to have Becton develop throughout the season with some expected rookie struggles along the way. The road to stardom was expected to be a rather bumpy one.
But those rookie struggles and bumps have been almost nonexistent to this point.
Despite being viewed as the biggest project of the top-four offensive tackles in this year’s class, Becton has looked like anything but through the first half of the season.
Already an impressive run-blocker, Becton’s combined that aspect of his game with consistent dominance in pass protection. Any concerns about his technique in pass sets have quickly vanished which has left fans pondering just how good he might get.
Becton is 21-years-old with a ceiling unmatched by any offensive lineman the Jets have had in years. If this is how good he is as a rookie, just think how good he might be by his third season in the league.
The Jets had high hopes for Becton both in his rookie season and in the future. But through the first half of the year, he’s exceeded any and all expectations.
The future is very bright for the former Louisville star.