Throughout the offseason, NewYorkJets.com reporters Eric Allen, Ethan Greenberg, Randy Lange and Caroline Hendershot will each give their predictions to a series of questions regarding this year's Jets.
Today's question: Which Jets player is flying under the radar during OTAs?
EA: I'll take safeties Ashtyn Davis and Jason Pinnock. On consecutive days this week, Davis recorded interceptions. He was in centerfield Wednesday when he stepped in front of a Joe Flacco heave and would have returned it for a pick-six. Then on Thursday, Davis showcased his athleticism by sprinting towards the sideline and coming down with a one-handed grab on the slide before reaching the boundary. It's just spring, but both takeaways by Davis, who started 16 games in 2020-21 and had 4 PDs and 3 FF, highlighted something different. On the first, it's being in the right position and making the play you must make. On the second, it was the showcase of rare athleticism that made the Cal product a third-round pick in 2020. Pinnock, a corner at Pittsburgh who made the transition to safety last season, is long and fast and his toughness will come to light in training camp. He intercepted QB Zach Wilson inside the red zone on Thursday and received plenty of props from his teammates. You also have to like the dynamic that Jordan Whitehead, who recorded an impressive PD during the same session, is a longtime confidant of Pinnock's going back to their days together at Pitt. While the Whitehead, a potential tone-setter, was the key move at the position in free agency and the Jets are planning for a healthy return from Lamarcus Joyner, they also have some interesting depth pieces behind them in Davis and Pinnock plus Will Parks and Elijah Riley. I'm fascinated by this position as we head towards training camp.
EG: I'm going with a pair of tight ends in Tyler Conklin and Lawrence Cager. Conklin, who signed with the Jets in free agency after C.J. Uzomah, makes everything look smooth. He's developed a nice rapport with Zach Wilson throughout the spring. This week, Conklin had a touchdown reception in red zone work, found a crease up the seam in tight coverage and juked out a pair of defenders on the sideline. He's coming off a career year and his natural pass-catching ability was on full display this spring. I've also been impressed with Cager, who's making the transition from wide receiver. Cager is a big target at 6-5 and is a mismatch for defenders. He's also looked smooth during the drills and has taken advantage of his opportunities with Uzomah not at the voluntary workouts the last few open sessions. He tweeted that he's been watching film of former Commanders tight end Jordan Reed, who had good receiving numbers at tight end. Both players have a slender build at the position. Trevon Wesco and Kenny Yeboah have also made a handful of plays throughout the spring. The real test will come when the pads come on training camp and defenders can put defend as if it were a game. I'm particularly interested to see how Cager will respond in training camp and how he'll match up against the defense. As a receiver, I'd imagine he's used to lining up against cornerbacks, but as a tight end, will linebackers and safeties guard him?
See the best images of the Jets during the final week of OTA practices in Florham Park.
RL: I'll say CB Bryce Hall. He's still rolling with the ones at OTAs, but with the signing of D.J. Reed as a free agent and the selection of Sauce Wilson fourth overall in the April draft, there is a tendency to overlook the third-year man from Virginia. I certainly can see an ultimate decision by the Jets to go with a changing of the starting corners in '22, but Hall can and will still be a valuable contributor. He displayed his durability by becoming the first Jet in history to start 17 games in one regular season. OK, that's got an asterisk next to it since last season was the first in NFL history with 17 RS games per team. But his 1,169 scrimmage snaps were the most on the Jets, more even than C.J. Mosley's 1,096. And Hall broke up 16 passes, best on the defense and the most by a Jets DB since Dee Milliner had 18 in his one shining pro season in 2013. Further, Hall also notched 79 tackles, the most by a Jets DB last season and the most by a Green & White corner since Darrelle Revis had 88 takedowns as a rookie in 2007. For all these reasons, keep your eyes on the radar for No. 37.
CH: Second-year Jets S Jason Pinnock has been making consistent plays for the defense throughout OTAs. Pinnock played in 12 games last year for the Green & White and had 16 tackles and 1 PD. What really stood out to me about Pinnock was a play from OTAs where he worked in tandem with rookie Sauce Gardner in order to make an interception in the red zone. The play happened close to the end of practice when Zach Wilson was trying to connect with D.J. Montgomery. Pinnock and Gardner were waiting in the endzone before Pinnock saw the play unfold and was able to cut off Montgomery before he even knew what happened. It was not just that one play or that one practice either. Pinnock has looked overall sharper than he did last year and has been reading the offense at an impressive speed throughout all of the offseason practices. He came into his own at the end of the 2021-2022 regular season and it has carried into this year.