1. Quinnen Williams, DT, NY Jets
Entering his fourth season in the NFL, Quinnen Williams is the best New York Jets player under 25. However, an up-and-down season has made his seat at the top of this list a bit warm.
Robert Saleh and his staff expected the change to an attacking 4-3 scheme to elevate Williams’ game by letting him attack and play free. But Williams, much like the rest of the Jets’ defense, struggled to make a significant impact in 2021.
While his pass-rushing numbers remained more-or-less the same, Williams struggled at times in the run game. In addition, the pile-up of injuries amongst the Jets’ defensive linemen personnel allowed defenses to expend extra attention to Williams and take him out of plays.
With Williams now eligible for a contract extension, he will need to take steps to make Joe Douglas confident in giving him a lucrative long-term deal.
Don’t let my criticisms sway your opinion, though; Williams is still one of the most talented young interior defensive linemen in the league.
He is an explosive player who utilizes a rare combination of strength and speed to create and maintain leverage against blockers. When fully engaged, no player on the Jets’ defense matches his potential relative to their position.
Some improvement will be a product of reinforcements, as the return of Carl Lawson and additional improvements to the Jets’ defensive line this offseason will force opposing offenses to game plan for more impact players.
But for Williams to play to the level he can, he must become a consistent contributor and limit the stretches where his impact on the field is diminished.
The 2022 season should see the Jets take another step towards returning to playoff contention. A productive offseason from the front office will catalyze the improvement.
Still, the Jets’ young playmakers, led by Quinnen Williams, must take significant steps in their development to take the team where it wants to go.