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LB Reset: After C.J. Mosley and Quincy Williams, Who Will Be the Third LB?

DC Jeff Ulbrich Says Group Is Among the Best in the NFL

Table inside Article
Jets Holdovers C.J. Mosley (UFA-BAL, 2019), Quincy Williams (W-JAX, 2021), Jamien Sherwood (Round 5a, 2021), Hamsah Nasirildeen (Round 6a, 2021), Chazz Surratt (FA, 2022)
Rookie Arrivals Zaire Barnes (Round 6a, 2023), Claude Cherelus (UDFA, 2023), Maalik Hall (UDFA, 2023), Caleb Johnson (UDFA, 2023)
Departure Kwon Alexander

Cornerstones and Contributors
Veteran linebacker and team captain C.J. Mosley is the heart and soul of the Jets' strong and evolving defense, which he helped to catapult to membership among the top five in the NFL last season. Mosley's play earned him a trip to his fifth Pro Bowl. Quincy Williams, the older brother of DT Quinnen Williams, has emerged as Mosley's running mate. Mosley (158, No. 9 in the league) and Williams (106) each eclipsed 100 combined tackles last season to lead coordinator Jeff Ulbrich's unit.

"Quincy is this unique athlete, like he has wide receiver speed," Ulbrich said. "He's got defensive line explosion and violence. He's such a rare combination of all of these things. Rather than learning a lot of stuff, we just asked him to learn a few things and you're starting to see him master these few things now. You're starting to see all his physical stuff now that you're starting to see him master these few things. You're starting to see all his physical stuff now that he's starting to really get the game up top."

Who will take up the third linebacker's spot will be sorted out in training camp. Third-year men Jamie Sherwood, Hamsah Nasirildeen and Chazz Surratt will compete and the Green & White also drafted sixth-round pick Zaire Barnes.

"First of all," Ulbrich said, "they should be in the conversation as one of the top linebacker groups in the NFL." He added: "C.J.'s awareness, toughness, consistency, his ability to run this defense — we put a lot on his table and he excels in that role. Just an amazing man and teammate."

See photos of Quincy Williams, C.J. Mosley, Hamsah Nasirildeen and the 2023 Jets linebackers.

Newcomers and Outgoers
DC Jeff Ulbrich and his assistants on the defense will need to find someone to replace eight-year veteran Kwon Alexander, who appeared in all 17 games last season and registered 69 tackles, 6 TFL, 2 QB hits and a forced fumble.

"I know there's some angst about who's going to man that position, but I really believe we've got four or five candidates on this team," Ulbrich said. "So those guys are going to compete their butts off, and through that competition someone will rise and become the man. We have great faith in all of them, too."

Jamien Sherwood appeared in 17 games last season, showing some grit in making 16 tackles along with a QB hit and a TFL. Hamsah Nasirileen spent most of the season on the practice squad, as did Chazz Surratt. Zaire Barnes, who was not invited to the NFL Combine, played 49 games at Western Michigan and had 205 tackles, 10 PD and 6 fumble recoveries. Others in the mix include undrafted free agents Maalik Hall and Claudin Cherelus. Alexander remains a free agent.

"Now in Year 3 in this defense, there's more opportunity for us to grow and show different things," C.J. Mosley said. "Because we're growing, we just have that confidence. With Aaron Rodgers on the other side [during OTAs], he's been testing us every single day. Having to drill down just makes us better." He added: "As a linebacker and a defender, it's not every day that you get to go against a future Hall of Fame quarterback to test your skill every day to grow as a defense and as a team."

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