NY Jets rookie linebackers taking center stage on defense

NY Jets, Hamsah Nasirildeen, Jamien Sherwood
NY Jets, Hamsah Nasirildeen, Jamien Sherwood / Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

The NY Jets are expecting big things from their 2021 NFL Draft class, both in the near and distant future. But while the attention is undoubtedly on the likes of Zach Wilson, Alijah Vera-Tucker, and Elijah Moore, it's important not to overlook other members of their rookie class.

The Jets could have as many as six or seven rookie starters come Week 1, and two of them might be at one position — linebacker.

Gang Green took an interesting approach to the linebacker position this offseason signing former draft bust Jarrad Davis in free agency before drafting two college safeties, Jamien Sherwood and Hamsah Nasirildeen, with the plan to move them to linebacker.

The expectation was that Davis would start alongside the returning C.J. Mosley in the nickel with Nasirildeen and Sherwood competing for playing time as the third linebacker.

But with Davis now sidelined for at least the first six weeks of the season, the Jets' rookie linebackers are being given a golden opportunity to shine.

Jarrad Davis' injury opens up an opportunity for the NY Jets' rookies

Nasirildeen has been getting the majority of first-team reps at WILL this summer and seems to be the favorite to start at the position when the regular seasons begins.

Meanwhile, Sherwood impressed in the first game of the preseason and was the player called on to replace Davis when he got hurt this past Saturday.

Head coach Robert Saleh confirmed on Monday that Sherwood will take Davis' place in the starting lineup setting up a scenario where both he and Nasirildeen are Week 1 starters on defense.

It's important to remember that we're talking about two Day 3 picks that are learning completely new positions this summer. Yet, after just a few months to adapt to their new position, the Jets are entrusting them with starting roles.

That's quite the vote of confidence.

Nasirildeen does appear to be facing some competition for the starting WILL job in the form of former Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Noah Dawkins.

Dawkins got the start at WILL on Saturday, but Nasirildeen has been almost exclusively working with the starters in practice.

Davis' injury is another blow to a Jets defense that has battled numerous injuries this summer. But with injury comes opportunity.

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And Jamien Sherwood and Hamsah Nasirildeen are about to get the opportunity of a lifetime.