8. Michael Carter II, CB, NY Jets
Yet another Day 3 selection of last year’s draft, Michael Carter II was among the better rookie corners in the NFL from the nickel position.
The youth and uncertainty in the Jets’ secondary before the season brought forth an open competition across the board. Carter used the open competition to his advantage and responded by earning the nickel role in the Jets’ defense.
Carter tends to get overlooked by some fans and broadcasters because he isn’t the flashiest player. However, I tend to think that the underrated nature of Carter’s play speaks volumes about his contributions as a rookie.
While his ball production (zero interceptions) can stand to improve, Carter exhibited the awareness and athletic ability to be amongst the better slot corners in the league in time.
7. Zach Wilson, QB, NY Jets
Assigned the role of hopeful franchise savior from the moment the Jets handed in the card to select him with the second overall pick in last year’s draft, Zach Wilson had an uneven rookie year.
Wilson’s season was a tale of two halves, not uncommon for a first-year signal-caller in the NFL. In his first six starts, Wilson looked the part of an overmatched rookie who struggled with the simplest of throws. Poor footwork and a propensity to overthink contributed to his non-stellar start.
However, after a sprained PCL forced him to watch from the sidelines for a month, Wilson returned as an improved quarterback.
Over his final seven starts, Wilson accounted for nine total touchdowns while throwing just two interceptions. His stat lines weren’t gaudy, but Wilson exhibited noticeable improvement despite increased team injuries by the end of the year.
There is no question that Wilson needs to continue to improve before the Jets’ can be sure that he is “The Guy.” That being said, Wilson’s skillset and second-half improvement inspire confidence that Wilson can develop into a franchise-caliber signal-caller if the team continues to add talent around him.