ESPN Ranks Jets No. 3 in Under-25 Talent in NFL

Zach Wilson, Sauce Gardner Among Green & White’s Young Nucleus

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Scott Spratt, a senior analyst at Football Outsiders, recently published an article for ESPN.com ranking all 32 teams by their under-25 talent. The Jets came in at No. 3.

The ranking was based on a combination of factors, including number of starts and snaps by players under 25 years old, quality of play, returning players and draft value.

"The Jets won the 2022 draft with their first- and second-round selections of cornerback [Sauce] Gardner, wide receiver [Garrett] Wilson, pass-rusher Jermaine Johnson and running back [Breece] Hall," Spratt wrote. "Gardner and Johnson should immediately plug the biggest holes of a unit that finished 32nd in pass defense and overall defensive DVOA last season."

Spratt listed the team's blue-chip players as QB Zach Wilson, Gardner, RG Alijah Vera-Tucker, G. Wilson, DT Quinnen Williams and Hall. He also lists DL John Franklin-Myers, CB D.J. Reed and S Ashtyn Davis as notable players.

"Defensive tackle Williams led the team with 7.0 and 6.0 sacks the past two seasons, achievements that both made him a worthy Pro Bowl alternate and reflect poorly on the team's edge rushers," Spratt wrote. "Wilson and Hall should lead a pair of playmakers at their skill positions that offer their second-year quarterback all the weapons he needs to be successful. The receiver Wilson and his teammate Elijah Moore are undersized at 192 and 178 pounds, but they run remarkably sophisticated routes for a pair of 22-year-olds.

"And the running backs may be even more exciting. Hall earned the fourth-highest BackCAST projection in Football Outsiders history behind exclusively blue-chip hits in Jonathan Taylor, Ricky Williams and Saquon Barkley. And Michael Carter led backs with 150 or more touches last season with a 24% broken tackle rate on his carries and catches."

Spratt believes it all comes down to Z. Wilson, the No. 2 overall pick in 2021. Wilson came on strong in the last 6 games of his rookie season, throwing 5 touchdowns and 1 interception. He also had 3 rushing scores.

"For that skill position group to hit its high ceiling, quarterback Wilson needs a dramatic improvement in Year 2," Spratt wrote. "His minus-32.3% passing DVOA rate was the worst of the 34 quarterbacks that threw 200 or more passes in 2021. And it landed him in a range of rookie inefficiency where Stafford (minus-36.3% in 2009) and Allen (minus-33.2% in 2018) are the only modern examples of quarterbacks who recovered to become stars. Pass pressure could be the key. Wilson faced the third-highest pressure rate (30.5%) and produced the worst DVOA when pressured (minus-120.6%) of regular starters in 2021. But Wilson seemed also to deserve a lot of the blame for that pressure since the Jets finished middle of the pack with a 61% pass block win rate."

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