Can the NY Jets replicate the 2019 49ers defensive line?

San Francisco 49ers v Arizona Cardinals
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NY Jets, Quinnen Williams
NY Jets, Quinnen Williams / Al Bello/Getty Images

Can the NY Jets fill the DeForest Buckner role?

DeForest Buckner was a key reason for the 2019 San Francisco defense’s success. He generated a ton of pressure from the interior, was strong against the run, and took pressure off the defenders around him.

Even with all that in mind, filling his role shouldn’t be much trouble for Gang Green this year with rising star Quinnen Williams.

Williams was drafted third overall in 2019 after a dominant season at Alabama but had a disappointing rookie year that was plagued with injury.

2020, however, saw a return to his Alabama form as Williams was a force to be reckoned with. He was constantly applying pressure up the middle and taking on double teams as a result.

His raw 2020 stats may not jump off the page (seven sacks and 14 QB hits in 13 games played) but this is a direct result of being targeted so heavily by offensive lines.

This issue was further exacerbated by poor edge rushers who struggled to get to the QB, and thus received little focus from opposing offensive lines. With no pass rush from the outside to worry about, double-teaming and sometimes even triple-teaming Williams was a no-brainer.  

With all that in mind, seven sacks in 13 games combined with a stellar 81.4 PFF grade are truly impressive figures from the budding defensive tackle. 

Ironically, Buckner was much better in 2018 and 2020 than in 2019. He recorded 12 sacks in 2018 compared to just 7.5 in 2019, and he received a 2020 PFF grade of 89.7 with Indianapolis, making him one of the best interior pass rushers in the NFL.

In fact, Williams' 2020 PFF grade was higher than Buckner’s 2019 grade.

The young star took great steps in his second season and has already filled the ‘19 Buckner role in the past. Let’s see if he can potentially even reach Buckner’s 2018 or 2020 form under Saleh’s tutelage.