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 Poised for a Breakout Season?
EA: The Jets have a talented young roster and there are several quality options for breakout candidates. On defense, you certainly could go with a pair of Jets who never have played a down for the Green & White — DE Carl Lawson and CB Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner. Lawson was a monster last summer before the Achilles tendon tear and Gardner, the No. 4 overall selection in the NFL Draft, is a monster talent. With more talent on the edge with Lawson, Jacob Martin and Vinny Curry plus rookie Jermaine Johnson, DT Quinnen Williams could push for his first 10-sack campaign. This is a quality group of receivers who should have considerable production if they remain healthy. We saw what Elijah Moore did in 11 games last season, Garrett Wilson was a points producer at Ohio State, and I think Corey Davis will reach 1,000 yards for the first time in his career. With the overhaul at tight end and the Breece Hall/Michael Carter dynamic in the backfield, QB Zach Wilson has more options and he'll take a leap. But I'll go with an unconventional answer and take Alijah Vera-Tucker as he moves to right guard. By the end of the season, the Jets will have two Pro Bowl guards in Laken Tomlinson and AVT.
EG: I think a popular answer is Zach Wilson. With all the new talent up front, out wide and in the backfield, Wilson has more playmakers at his disposal. Entering his second season, the No. 2 overall pick in 2021 has looked more comfortable commanding the offense in the spring, according to HC Robert Saleh. The coaching staff and the players believe in Wilson, who finished the final seven games of his rookie season with 9 TDs (5 passing, 4 rushing) and 2 INTs. The arrow is pointing up for Wilson. I think other popular answers would include Carl Lawson and Elijah Moore. Keep an eye on a pair of second-year defenders in S Jason Pinnock and CB Michael Carter II. Pinnock, who took first team reps in the spring, could see a significant bump in playing time as he enters his first full season as a safety (he was drafted at CB). With a stronger CBs room on the outside, Carter II could see more passes thrown his way in the slot. He was impressive as a rookie and should continue to develop in 2022.
See the Jets' 90-man roster leading up to training camp.
RL: Too obvious to say Carl Lawson? Last year's UFA edge-rusher star — until he tore his Achilles tendon in training camp — is champing at the bit to get his Jets career started. He's got reinforcements on the DL to help him as well as Quinnen Williams and John Franklin-Myers in rookies Jermaine Johnson and Micheal Clemons. He's got veteran reinforcements in the secondary to help give him and the Jets' pass rushers that extra split-second per play to get to the opposing QB. And just to refresh memories, in 2020 with the Bengals, Lawson had 29.5 QB knockdowns, the most by any NFL D-lineman that year, and his 1.84 knockdowns per team-game and per player-game that year were the most by any DL with at least 25 KDs in the past three seasons. Needless to say, we'd like to see Carl get back into the groove with a safe and healthy preseason and then get shot out of a cannon into the regular season.
CH: Maybe I'm excited by the new face, but I believe that Tyler Conklin is going to have a breakout season. In his four years with the Vikings, he improved each year statistically. Last year he ended the season with 61 receptions for 593 yards and 3 touchdowns. Not to mention, Conklin said that the offense isn't new to him. "The offense, I'm very familiar with it," Conklin said. "We ran it the past three years in Minnesota." That familiarity showed in minicamp and OTAs this off-season when Zach Wilson consistently connected with Conklin with ease on the field. So, because he familiar with the scheme and trending upward in his production, I think Conklin is going to make a major impact for the Green and White and have a breakout season in 2022.