Throughout the offseason, NewYorkJets.com reporters Eric Allen, Ethan Greenberg and Randy Lange will each give their predictions to a series of questions regarding this year's Jets.
Today's question: Which Jet will benefit most from changing to a 4-3 defense?
EA: Jarrad Davis.
The Jets targeted Davis in free agency because they like his athleticism, physicality and overall tenacious play. Davis (26) was a first-round pick of the Lions in 2017 and he had a career year in 2018 with 100 tackles, 6 sacks, 5 PDs, 1 FF and 1 FR. His production dropped in 2019 and he became a rotational player last season after the Lions declined to pick up his fifth-year option. While the Lions operated out of a 3-4 base the past three seasons, Davis will move to a 4-3 defense under Robert Saleh and Jeff Ulbrich. The Jets want to create chaos up front and let their linebackers get after it laterally.
Davis is an excellent athlete. He had freakish numbers at Florida's pro day, posting a 4.56 in the 40-yard dash , a 38.5-inch vertical and 10-9 broad jump. Plus Davis has outstanding length (33.5 inches) and he's a big hitter who has been productive as a blitzer. I don't know if he's reached his ceiling yet and some players develop at different rates.
Former Jets LB Demario Davis was a guy who took a few years to figure it all out. He was a punishing tackler who worked hard on coverage and his pass rush to become more of a complete player, but he also gained more of an understanding of the finer details of the game and that came with experience. Davis became one of the NFL's better inside linebackers. Two different players (J. Davis a better athlete and D. Davis bigger and stronger), but there is a chance the best is yet to come for Jarrad Davis. He'll play alongside C.J. Mosley in 2021 and the Jets linebacking corps will be perhaps the most interesting unit on the club.
EG:Have your pick of defensive lineman, but I'm going with Quinnen Williams. Williams broke out in the 2020 season, leading the team with a career-high 7 sacks in 13 games. He also set career highs in tackles (55), pass defensives (3), forced fumbles (2) and QB hits (14). He led the NFL among defensive tackles in run-stop-win rate (49%) and No. 4 in pass-rush-win rate (17%) according to ESPN. That production came in a 3-4 defensive front. Now in a 4-3 and in an "attack style up front," he should be able to increase his production. Head Coach Robert Saleh said he's excited to "get the seat belt off his harness and let him go" in his introductory press conference and that he liked Williams as a prospect in the 2019 draft. Saleh was with the 49ers when they selected Nick Bosa No. 2 overall, the pick before Williams. San Francisco's front in 2019 with Bosa, DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead and Dee Ford helped the Niners total 48 sacks, which tied for fifth in the NFL. Williams is one piece of the puzzle, but it'll he difficult for teams to double team him with Carl Lawson, who signed with the Green & White in free agency, coming off the edge now. Lawson is another player who I think will benefit in this system along with the rest of the group, but I think the blueprint is there for Williams to emerge as one of the best defensive tackles in football.
See Top Images from the Second OTA Practice on Tuesday
RL: The cornerbacks. We've heard it forever and now we'll hear it again this fall: Great pass rush helps pass defense. It remains to be seen if the Jets will have a great rush, but Joe Douglas, Robert Saleh & Co. have set the table for an improvement in that area. And if Quinnen Williams, Carl Lawson and Vinny Curry on the outside plus Foley Fatukasi and Sheldon Rankins on the inside and the rest of the D-linemen can compete and provide that improvement from the four-man front, it will help the young corner starters, Bless Austin and Bryce Hall, plus second-year men Lamar Jackson and Javelin Guidry, plus the rookie draftees, Jason Pinnock, Michael Carter II and Brandin Echols, and the rest to get their feet beneath them. Then the counterpoint with the up-and-coming D-line and front seven can begin in earnest.