Pro Football Focus' Ben Linsey recently published an article with each NFL team’s most underrated player and pegged NT Steve McLendon as the most underrated Jet.
"Nose tackle is perhaps the least glamorous job in the NFL," Linsey wrote. "Much of the job rests on controlling blocks and eating double teams, allowing your fellow defensive linemen and linebackers to make the plays that end up on the stat sheet. McLendon has served well in that role for the Jets over the last three seasons, earning 75.0-plus overall grades on 450 or more defensive snaps in each of 2017, 2018 and 2019. He is one of just five defensive linemen with a run-defense grade of 90.0 or higher since 2017 when lining up over or shading the center, joining Damon Harrison Sr., Brandon Williams, Michael Pierce and Linval Joseph. That kind of play warrants some love for the 34-year-old out of Troy."
McLendon joined the Jets in 2016 six years after signing with the Steelers as an undrafted free agent. One of the Jets' team captains each of the last two seasons, the 6'3", 210-pounder has totaled 144 tackles, 28 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks and 17 quarterback hits in 59 games (54 starts) with the Green & White.
"Everybody knows he's a worker who's smart and tough," head coach Adam Gase said last August. "He's a culture guy, but he's a really good player. He does everything right and guys listen to him. When he speaks, people listen. He's about us getting better as a team and sometimes you need that. The guy has been a part of winning teams the majority of his career. He knows what it looks like, he knows how to do it. … And he doesn't look his age to me the way he practices, the way he plays the game."
McLendon, who received an extension through the 2020 season last October, has won the Jets' Dennis Byrd Most Inspirational Award in both 2018 and '19 after splitting the accolade with Demario Davis in '17.
"He's sort of like that older brother that you look up to,'' said OLB Jordan Jenkins, whom the Jets re-signed in the offseason. "He does everything the right way and he doesn't take shortcuts. He's the type of guy who, when you're around him, you want to work harder because you know how hard he's working.''
Jets DT Folorunso Fatukasi added: "If Steve were to tell me, 'Run through that wall because that's how you're going to get better,' I'm going to run 100 miles per hour through that wall."