As the Jets get closer to training camp, I am examining the roster and giving you my top 25 players. Each weekday, we will reveal another person on the list, leading right into camp. I am not including rookies on this list because I do not feel it is possible to fully evaluate them before they play a game.
No. 1: Quinnen Williams
Last year’s ranking: 13
Age on Opening Day: 23
How acquired: Selected in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft
Years left on contract: 2 (plus a team option for a third)
2021 Salary Cap figure: $9 million
Looking back at 2020
After a slightly disappointing rookie season, Williams had a breakout sophomore campaign.
Williams made impactful plays and looked dominant at times. He started 13 games, missing three to injury. He had 55 tackles, a team-high seven sacks, 14 quarterback hits, 10 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and three passes defensed.
Williams looked like a more confident and comfortable player in Year 2 and showed why he was worth the No. 3 overall pick in 2019.
PFF graded Williams 12th out of 126 interior defensive linemen. He was eighth against the run and 16th against the pass. They credited him with 28 stops (a play that constitutes a loss for the offense), which was sixth among interior linemen. He also had 23 quarterback hurries.
Outlook for 2021
No player may benefit more from the coaching change than Williams. Robert Saleh’s defense will allow him to run upfield and attack more than the read-and-react style of Gregg Williams’ defense. Quinnen Williams should be able to cause more havoc in the backfield and get to the quarterback more often.
Williams really blossomed last year. The next step is consistency. Williams had games where he was dominant last season and others where he faded a bit. If he wants to become an All-Pro, he’ll have to have more of the former than the latter.
Williams showed a commitment to getting in shape last season with boxing workouts and a strict diet. Those things should help him going forward.
Injuries are a slight concern. A neck injury ended Williams’ season prematurely last year, but he said it is now 100-percent healed. He broke a bone in his foot early in the offseason that kept him out of OTAs and minicamp. The Jets have said Williams will be ready for training camp, but it bears watching.