7 biggest surprise standouts from the NY Jets' 2021 season

NY Jets, George Fant
NY Jets, George Fant / Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
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NY Jets, George Fant
NY Jets, George Fant / Steven Ryan/GettyImages

1. George Fant, LT, NY Jets

Without a doubt, the biggest surprise standout for the Jets in 2021 was George Fant. Fant was signed to a three-year, $27.3 million contract prior to the 2020 season, and his first year with the team didn't go so well.

Starting at right tackle, Fant finished the season with a 61.6 PFF grade that ranked 64th out of 79 qualified offensive tackles. Fant was expected to compete with the newly-signed Morgan Moses for the starting right tackle job, and he actually won, starting Week 1 at the position.

But when Mekhi Becton went down to a serious knee injury that same game, Fant stepped in as the starter. What followed was one of the more unlikely seasons from a Jets player in recent history.

Fant was one of the best pass-protecting left tackles in football in 2021. The veteran lineman allowed the second-fewest pressures among all left tackles in the NFL this past season surrendering just 18 in 15 games started.

Only Tristan Wirfs and Andrew Whitworth were tagged with allowing fewer pressures, among qualified offensive tackles. Fant was one of just four left tackles to play at least 500 pass-block snaps and surrender one or fewer sacks.

Fant was a top-10 (if not top-5) left tackle in 2021. His future with the Jets might be a little uncertain, but that's not important right now. What's important is recognizing George Fant for having one of the best seasons by a Jets offensive linemen in recent team history.

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That alone must be celebrated, and it's why he earns his rightful place atop this list.