CBS Sports came out with their roster rankings for the 2022 NFL season – some think it’s dead-on, some think their low-balling potential over experience, and some think it might as well be a quarterback ranking list.
The Jets came in at 20, which many believe is fair; Zach Wilson is still a pretty blank canvas, and many of the biggest editions are rookies at the end of the day, but their upside and the established pieces they got allowed for several of their position rooms to take big steps in the right direction.
The Jets’ neighbors on the list are relatively fair as well:
- Indianapolis Colts
- Pittsburgh Steelers
- San Francisco 49ers
- Arizona Cardinals
- New York Jets
- New Orleans Saints
- Tennessee Titans
- Carolina Panthers
- New England Patriots
Everything seems to make sense. Pittsburgh’s defense is elite and their receiving corp is young and ascending, but they’re rebuilding a quarterback and offensive line. Arizona lost several key pieces – Chandler Jones and Chase Edmonds have made their way to other teams, and DeAndre Hopkins will be suspended for the opening chunk of the season. And the Patriots have lost just about everyone, except Matt Patricia.
Joe Douglas’ squad made some loud improvements on both sides of the ball, and he and everyone in that front office have hope that the fabric of the team will carry them into a top 15 roster by the end of the year. But what could propel them into that territory? And what could help them back? Answering both shows why 20th place is a fair starting point at this moment in time.
Let’s start with the positive, going by unit:
OFFENSIVE LINE – Pro Football Focus currently has the left-to-right starting lineup of Mekhi Becton, Laken Tomlinson, Connor McGovern, Alijah Vera-Tucker, and George Fant as the 13th-best starting offensive line in the NFL. That’s seventh-best among AFC teams and second-best in the AFC East behind the New England Patriots (7) with Isaiah Wynn, Cole Strange, David Andrews, Michael Onwenu, and Trent Brown. The Jets finished with a PFF run-blocking grade of 71.2, which was 14th in the NFL. That number will only go up with the addition of Laken Tomlinson, who thrived in the run-first heavy offense of Kyle Shanahan. And with both Michael Carter and Breece Hall to worry about, his veteran presence will not go unnoticed.
TIGHT END – Having a trustworthy tight end can be a safety blanket for any young quarterback. Having three of them is a safety tent. C.J. Uzomah, Tyler Conklin, and rookie Jeremy Ruckert will do wonders for Zach Wilson – their collective dimensions of speed, agility, receiving, and blocking will open the playbook wide open and give Wilson less to worry about.
PASS RUSH – New nickname for Jermaine Johnson II: Heist Johnson. As in Heist of the Century. His athleticism to go along with Quinnen Williams, John-Franklin Meyers, and Carl Lawson, except the Jets front seven – this is assuming Johnson can maximize his ability to play as an OLB in certain blitz packages with Sheldon Rankins at DT – to hit the 40 sack mark this season. They finished seventh to last at just 33 sacks last season. But now, there is more substantive tape on Mac Jones and Tua Tagovailoa, both of whom are known for shrinking when out of the play-call structure.
Here’s what could hold them back:
QUARTERBACK – At the end of the day, Zach Wilson is his own man. The trend is the right kind, but his patience and discipline are in his control. The added pieces at tight end and receiver take less pressure off him in the playbook but add more off the field. Continued hero-ball and unpolished footwork could limit the Jet’s ability to climb the ranks after Wilson shakes off the rust in the Jets’ landmine of a pre-bye schedule.
SAFETY – Now with Tyreek Hill in the division and Stefon Diggs showing no signs of slowing down, the Jets are gonna be pressured in the middle of the field. And while Jordan Whitehead brings situational awareness and experience to the free safety position, Lamarcus Joyner and Ashtyn Davis had two interceptions collectively and were easily beat on most cutting routes. The departure of Marcus Maye could not have come at a worse time. Getting scored on is one thing, getting scored on quickly is a whole other pit of football hell. Blow-out losses against the Bills and Dolphins in the first half of the season could force the Jets to play catchup in the playoff hunt.
Here’s the deal: considering it’s ~the Jets~, New York can settle for 20th place. With the right patience and a continued promising trajectory, CBS and its rankings could be blown out of the Hudson River water.