Ranking the 5 most important NY Jets players on defense

Quinnen Williams, NY Jets
Quinnen Williams, NY Jets / Cooper Neill/GettyImages
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2. Sauce Gardner, CB, NY Jets

Sauce Gardner was better than anyone thought possible as a rookie and immediately became an integral part of the Jets' defense. Despite some recent Twitter debates, Gardner is without a doubt one of, if not the, best cornerbacks in the NFL.

In 2022, Gardner had the highest defensive grade from Pro Football Focus of all NFL cornerbacks (87.9). He also had the highest coverage grade at 90.0.

Patrick Surtain II had the second-highest with just an 86.7. The only "knock" on Gardner was that he only had two interceptions, but he also had 14 pass breakups, which ranked second among cornerbacks.

Gardner played so well as a rookie that an improvement in his sophomore season could see him enter the Defensive Player of the Year discussion. Gardner and Williams were undoubtedly the two biggest factors in the Jets' elite defense in 2022.

3. D.J. Reed, CB, NY Jets

Going into the 2022 offseason, there were questions about how much the Jets would invest in the cornerback position, with many saying they would prioritize the defensive line. Well, the Jets signed D.J. Reed and drafted Gardner with the fourth pick, and both seem like home-run moves.

Reed played about as well as the Jets could have hoped as the No. 2 cornerback. Reed’s 77.5 coverage grade ranked 12th, and his 10 pass breakups were tied for 11th.

There is a legitimate argument to be made that Gardner and Reed are the best cornerback duo in the NFL. Although the defensive line is important in this defense, having a pair of corners this talented certainly doesn’t hurt.