NY Jets RB Zonovan Knight proving he deserves a permanent role

NY Jets, Zonovan Knight
NY Jets, Zonovan Knight / Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

When the NY Jets traded a sixth-round pick for James Robinson prior to the trade deadline, they did so with the hope that they would find an adequate replacement for the injured Breece Hall.

As it turns out, that replacement was already under contract. He just hadn't been given an opportunity yet.

Undrafted rookie Zonovan Knight has made the most of the extended look he's been given over the last two weeks, and the Jets have wasted little time making it clear that he's RB1 with Hall and Michael Carter sidelined.

But Knight has proven that he deserves to retain a prominent role in the team's offense even when Carter returns from injury in the near future. He's legitimately been one of the NFL's best running backs over the last two weeks.

Just how good has Zonovan Knight been for the NY Jets?

Knight was given the nod over James Robinson two weeks ago with the Jets looking to shake up their running back room. And following Carter's injury, the undrafted rookie was suddenly thrust into a prominent role in his NFL debut.

All he did was set a new franchise record for scrimmage yards in a debut while leading the team to its most productive rushing performance since Hall's injury. His repeat performance in Week 13 was just as impressive.

Knight finished Sunday's game with 90 yards on 15 carries while adding five catches for 28 yards. He was the clear-cut RB1 even with Robinson active again.

Over the last two weeks, Knight ranks second in the NFL in missed tackles forced with 10, trailing only Josh Jacobs of the Las Vegas Raiders. His 83.1 Pro Football Focus grade ranks fourth among running backs since Week 12 while his 77.0 PFF receiving grade is the best at his position.

On top of that, Knight's 151.0 elusiveness rating is easily the best in the NFL over the last two weeks. Only one other player (Jacobs) has earned a rating above 100.

It's not as if he's been a liability in pass protection either — far from it. Knight's 77.8 PFF pass-block grade ranks third among running backs since Week 12. He's quite literally doing it all.

With Carter potentially in line to return as soon as next Sunday's game against the Buffalo Bills, Knight has more than earned a permanent role in the Jets' offense. You could even argue he should be the 1A to Carter's 1B given their production and efficiency.

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The Jets seem to have found a diamond in the rough in Zonovan Knight. He's played himself into the team's backfield plans in 2023 and beyond.