This offseason, the NY Jets finally addressed their need for a premier edge rusher. Gang Green signed former Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Carl Lawson to a three-year deal worth $45 million. Quickly, the team realized they may have gotten the steal of free agency.
In training camp against standout left tackle Mekhi Becton, Lawson was a monster. Every day of camp he seemed to get into the backfield and wreak havoc. Both against the run and pass.
Simply put, the Jets finally had a pass rusher to be excited about. Someone who could be elite and be “the guy” in big moments. Not to mention, Lawson has already gained a big following from the fans through social media.
That is why it is so unfortunate that on Thursday, Lawson tore his Achilles in a joint practice with the Green Bay Packers. Almost immediately, people began to panic, despite Lawson never having suited up in Gotham Green.
Nevertheless, the loss of a potential double-digit sack artist is a big one. But what if the Jets still have someone capable of that production on the team?
Here are three players who could surprise everyone and step into the role Lawson’s injury will keep him from in 2021.
3. Hamilcar Rashed Jr., DE, NY Jets
Here lies the biggest wild card of the Jets defensive front, because he is not a lock to make the roster. Hamilcar Rashed Jr. is an undrafted free agent out of Oregon State, who was among the top edge defenders in college football.
From 2018-2019, Rashed played in 23 games for the Beavers. In that span, Rashed totaled 35.0 tackles for a loss, and 16.5 sacks, including 14.0 in 2019. Expectations were high entering his senior year in 2020, before injuries limited him to seven games.
At 6-foot-2 and 251 pounds, Rashed does not have the size of a prototypical 4-3 defensive end, but neither does Lawson (6-foot-2 and 265 pounds). Rashed wins with athleticism, hands, and plays through the whistle.
After a 1.5-sack performance against the New York Giants in his first preseason game, Rashed is not only a candidate to make the roster, but to help fill the void that Lawson leaves behind.