New York Jets Player Power Rankings: Midseason Edition
The New York Jets get some time off for their bye this week. Halfway into the season they are 3-5 overall and 2-2 in the AFC East.
They will be looking to take advantage of their softer schedule in the second half of the season to try to sneak into the playoffs as a wild card.
Here are the Jets player power rankings based on their performances through the first half of the season. I have ranked 55 players. Asterisks next to rankings signify players who have suffered injuries.
Trying to Earn Snaps: 41-55
55. Hayden Smith
A former Rugby player from Australia, Hayden Smith is learning to play offensive tackle. He was recently activated and played his first NFL snap.
54. Daniel Muir
Nose tackle Daniel Muir is seeing some playing time due to injuries to Sione Pouha and Kenrick Ellis. He saw his first action as a Jet in Week 6.
53. Jason Smith
Offensive tackle/hybrid Jason Smith was taken in exchange for Wayne Hunter in the offseason. He has not seen action as a true offensive tackle this season, but he has played in the jumbo set, as a blocking tight end and as a fullback.
52. Marcus Dowtin
An undrafted rookie, linebacker Marcus Dowtin saw his first NFL action in the past two weeks in New England and against the Miami Dolphins.
51. Jonathan Grimes
Grimes is a 22-year-old running back who was signed off of the Houston Texans practice squad on September 25th. In his final year of college, he led the nation in all-purpose yards.
In 48 college starts, Grimes averaged 94 yards per game on five yards per carry. He scored 41 touchdowns (34 rushing, seven receiving) and threw for one touchdown. He has not yet seen significant NFL action.
50. Josh Bush
A sixth-round pick in the 2012 draft, backup free safety Josh Bush hopes to be the future for the Jets at safety, with Yeremiah Bell being 34 years old and LaRon Landry 28.
49. Aaron Berry
Backup cornerback Aaron Berry was brought in as a midseason stopgap when Darrelle Revis was lost for the season. He is currently fifth on the depth chart.
48. Antonio Allen
Backup strong safety Antonio Allen was drafted in the seventh round this year. He came up to the active roster from the practice squad after the injury to Darrelle Revis. He has earned snaps in the nickle position. As a hybrid player, he is useful against the hurry-up offense run by the New England Patriots and a few other teams.
47. Damon Harrison
Undrafted rookie nose tackle Damon Harrison rose up from the practice squad due to injuries to Kenrick Ellis and Sione Pouha. He has seen action in three games so far this season. He has shown some promise and could some day fill the role now filled by Pouha.
46. Konrad Reuland
Undrafted in 2011, Konrad Reuland became a Jet this season and began to see action as a pass-catching tight end. He is not athletic but has reliable hands.
45. Tanner Purdum
In his third season as the Jets' long snapper, Tanner Purdum has been invisible, which is the job of a long snapper.
44. Aaron Maybin
Aaron Maybin is an outside linebacker and pass-rushing specialist. He had a few good games in 2011 after being cut by the Buffalo Bills. So far this season he has been quiet.
43. Isaiah Trufant
Trufant was mainly a special teams player until Darrelle Revis went down with an ACL tear. Now he gets significant reps in the nickel cornerback spot.
42. Greg McElroy
A star quarterback in college at Alabama, Greg McElroy was a seventh-round draft pick in 2011 and is learning the pro game. He has had decent showings in the 2011 and 2012 preseasons. Perhaps in 2013 he will give Mark Sanchez a run for his money.
41. Tim Tebow
Tebow was performing well as the punt protector up until Sunday, when he whiffed on a block and allowed a punt block for a touchdown.
The Lower Tier: 31-40
40. Vladimir Ducasse
Former second-round pick and offensive guard has been called a bust by many. The Jets continue to hope he will turn his talents into production. He has been taking about a third of the snaps at left guard away from Matt Slauson.
39. Austin Howard
Right tackle Austin Howard may feel like an upgrade over Wayne Hunter, but the upgrade is small or non-existent. He leads the Jets in quarterback pressures allowed.
38. Eric Smith
Strong safety Eric Smith is in a very reduced role this year after the acquisitions of Yeremiah Bell and LaRon Landry. He is used mostly in running situations.
37.* Jeff Cumberland
The Jets hoped to have a double tight end threat with Cumberland and Dustin Keller. Unfortunately, Keller was hurt for most of the season, and now Cumberland is hurt. Sanchez continues to have only one tight end to throw to.
36. Ellis Lankster
Lankster is being given more responsibility than he has received in the past due to the injury to Revis. Lankster and Trufant are splitting reps as the nickel and slot corners.
35.* Josh Mauga
Gone for the season with a torn pectoral muscle, Mauga was a potential starter-in-waiting before the injury.
34. Matt Slauson
Left guard Matt Slauson has had somewhat of a disappointing season. He has been splitting reps with backup guard Vladimir Ducasse.
33. Garrett McIntyre
32. Clyde Gates
Second-year receiver Clyde Gates only saw playing time this year because of injuries to Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill. However, he has shown flashes of potential. On Sunday he led the Jets with seven receptions for 82 yards.
31. Nick Bellore
Bellore is a sub-par linebacker but earns his roster spot with stellar special teams play. He is one of the best in the NFL on punt and kick coverage. He also caught a pass for a first down on a fake punt.
The Middle of the Pack: 21-30
30. Bryan Thomas
Outside linebacker Bryan Thomas was briefly released earlier this season to make temporary roster room. He has been with the Jets since he was drafted as a first-rounder in 2012. He continues to be adequate at setting the edge in run defense, but at his age is no longer an elite linebacker.
29. Mark Sanchez
Sanchez is in a rough position this season. He continues to be a slightly below average quarterback in a situation where excellence is expected.
28. Chaz Schilens
Wide receiver Schilens is getting significant playing time now that Santonio Holmes is gone for the season. He runs a solid slant route and is becoming one of Sanchez's favorite third down targets.
27.* Bart Scott
Outside linebacker Bart Scott continues to deal with a toe injury. If he cannot get healthy, he may be phased out to make room for younger linebackers.
26. Brandon Moore
Right guard Brandon Moore finally got a Pro Bowl bid in 2011, although he was much better in 2009 and 2010. Sometimes the accolades come with some delay.
Moore has been adequate in pass block so far this year but not as dominant in the run game as he was in years past.
25. Yeremiah Bell
Strong safety Yeremiah Bell is a step up from last year but not a huge one. He plays relatively mistake-free football but does not have the athleticism or speed at this point in his career to make many big plays.
24. Kyle Wilson
Third-year cornerback Kyle Wilson is starting this year because of the injury to Darrelle Revis. He was a very good slot corner. He is not quite as good in the starting role but is doing a decent job.
Wilson is an easy target for criticism because of the huge shoes he is filling. However, he has the talent to start for most NFL teams.
23. Lex Hilliard
Lex Hilliard has turned out to be a solid pickup in the past few weeks. A hybrid fullback/running back, he is excellent in short yardage, can block and is capable of catching passes out of the backfield.
22. Calvin Pace
The 32-year-old outside linebacker, Calvin Pace, was a first-round pick in 2003 and has been with the Jets since 2008. This year his age has really started to show.
He has 41 sacks in his career, but Sunday he garnered only his second sack of this season on Ryan Tannehill. The Jets' entire starting linebacking group has a total of only four sacks in eight games this season.
21. Demario Davis
A third-round pick this year, the expectations for Davis were not sky-high right away. He was meant to primarily sit behind a strong veteran group.
However, with the linebacking issues the Jets are having, Davis is getting more snaps. He received 128 snaps in the first seven games—more than Bryan Thomas—and got his first NFL start in New England. He got a second-straight start on Sunday against the Miami Dolphins.
As a rookie, Davis was supposed to find himself under the tutelage of an elite linebacking core. Instead he finds himself trying to resurrect an aging group. He has played well so far but has a ways to go if he wants to become elite.
The Second Tier: 11-20
20. Robert Malone
The offseason pickup of punter Robert Malone has worked out so far this year. He is consistently capable of punts longer than 50 yards. The punt block on Sunday was not his fault, as a defender came unabated up the middle.
19. Shonn Greene
Starting running back Shonn Greene is having a mediocre year so far despite a couple of solid games. He had a career game against the Indianapolis Colts but has for the most part been held below 100 yards per game.
After a solid game on Sunday (5.1 yards per rush), Jets fans can hope that he will continue to improve.
18.* Bilal Powell
In Tony Sparano's new power system, Powell is doing better than starting running back Shonn Greene. Powell was unable to play on Sunday with a shoulder injury. However, he is expected back after the bye week. Expect his reps to continue to increase.
17. Stephen Hill
Second-round pick and rookie wide receiver Stephen Hill dealt with injuries earlier in the season but is healthy now. In his first two full games in the NFL he caught touchdown receptions.
Hill has obvious promise and talent but needs to avoid drops. He has had multiple prominent drops so far in his young career.
16. LaRon Landry
Strong safety LaRon Landry was a big this offseason in free agency, replacing the heavily criticized Eric Smith in the starting lineup.
Landry racked up as many tackles as Yeremiah Bell and David Harris in the first seven weeks of the season. Landry also has a forced fumble, an interception and a defensive touchdown.
The Jets are in a better situation this year with Landry and Bell than they have been in recent years.
15.* Kenrick Ellis
Backup nose tackle Kenrick Ellis is developing but is still a fairly raw talent. He has tremendous physical ability and would have been a first-round pick in 2011 if not for his legal troubles. The Jets snagged him in the third round, and he improved a lot in his first offseason in 2012.
Ellis is dealing with an MCL injury but could be back in three or four weeks. His presence will be needed, especially if Sione Pouha does not get healthier.
14. Quinton Coples
Rookie defensive end Quinton Coples is another player who is quietly having a strong season. He is above average against both the run and the pass and is earning playing time as part of a very deep defensive line.
13.* Dustin Keller
You need only your eyes to see the impact of tight end Dustin Keller on quarterback Mark Sanchez. Without his tight end, he has trouble finding open receivers. Keller is a poor blocker but is undeniably an above average pass catcher and route runner. Unfortunately, he has been dealing with a hamstring injury since Week 1.
12. David Harris
Harris has been a mainstay at the middle linebacker spot for the Jets for a long time. He is a defensive leader and reliable player. He deserved to be a Pro Bowler in each of the past three years.
This year, however, has been a down year for him. He is not pressuring quarterbacks and is not flying around the field as much as he used to. With 57 combined tackles—37 individual and 20 assisted—he remains Top 15 in the NFL at tackling. However, he is not making turnovers and sacks happen. At No. 12, Harris is still good but no longer great (at least right now).
11. Mike DeVito
Defensive end Mike DeVito is quietly having a nice season. Surprisingly enough, he is the third-ranked player on the Jets defense this season. With multiple injuries to the defensive line, DeVito has played both inside and outside.
10. Nick Folk
Now in his third year kicking for the Jets, Nick Folk is looking better than he has in the past. His mediocre performance in 2011 led to an offseason kicking competition. However, he has secured that spot with his performances thus far in 2012.
Folk is 12 of 13 on field goals, and the only miss was a blocked kick against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. Folk performed exceptionally well in Week 7 in New England and has kicked four game-winning field goals in the past two seasons.
One of the few players on the Jets who has been rock steady and reliable for the Jets this year, Folk deserves his spot in the top 10.
9. Jeremy Kerley
A fifth-round pick just last year, wide receiver Jeremy Kerley is already making a case for himself as the No. 1 wide receiver on the Jets. As a rookie, he was primarily a slot receiver and a punt returner.
Since the injury to Santonio Holmes, Kerley has been Mark Sanchez's favorite target. Other than Nick Mangold, no one else has had more positive impact on the Jets so far this year.
He is a quick route runner and reliable at catching the football. He plays like a faster version of former Jet Wayne Chrebet and has been compared to Patriots receiver Wes Welker.
For the rest of this year—as Stephen Hill continues to develop—Kerley will remain Sanchez's primary target. He will have to be successful in order for the Jets to win games.
It will be interesting to see in 2013 if Holmes reclaims the No. 1 spot or if Kerley can retain it.
8.* Santonio Holmes
New York Jets No. 1 wide receiver Santonio Holmes was knocked out for the season with a Lisfranc injury in his foot. Holmes has taken a lot of criticism in the past season and half. Nevertheless, he is the most talented veteran receiver on the Jets.
Rookie second-round pick Stephen Hill has perhaps as much physical talent but is still very raw (as we saw again Sunday with the touchdown pass that bounced off his chest).
Holmes is a quick receiver and has the ability to get open downfield against any defense. In each of the past seven seasons, Holmes has averaged more than 12 yards per reception.
He was most successful in 2010 across from Braylon Edwards. Having Stephen Hill as a deep threat was supposed to revitalize his career. Obviously the Lisfranc injury got in the way of that.
Jets fans will have to wait until 2013 to find out whether or not a Hill/Holmes combo can be a scary deep threat.
7.* Joe McKnight
A fourth-round pick by the Jets in 2010, Joe McKnight is a versatile player who has built a name for himself in New York.
He plays running back on offense, cornerback on defense and is an All-Pro kick returner. After garnering more than 1,000 kick return yards in 2011, he already has 562 kick return yards this year, with a 29.6 yards average.
His contributions are not limited to special teams. He is the leading speed back for the Jets and has averaged 6.6 yards per carry this season. With Shonn Greene and Bilal Powell being similar, slow-paced power backs, McKnight is the only running back on the Jets who can break big runs.
McKnight played admirably in Week 7 despite a high-ankle sprain. In Week 8 he re-injured the ankle and was unable to return. Hopefully, he will get healthy during the Week 9 bye.
6. D'Brickashaw Ferguson
A Pro Bowler the past three seasons, Ferguson was drafted in the same 2006 draft class that brought in center Nick Mangold. One could argue that Ferguson's quality of play trailed off toward the end of 2011 and is still not at its peak.
There is likely some truth to that. However, Ferguson continues to be an above average tackle and a borderline Pro Bowler. His style of play is similar to what it has been in the past. He continues to be weak in the running game but great in pass protection.
As usual, Ferguson is ranked as the top pass protector on the Jets. He and Mangold are currently the only two reliable pass protectors along the Jets front five.
Ferguson is a respected leader. He has always had a positive attitude and been a role model for his teammates. He is sure to be a part of the Jets' core for several more years, and he now owns the No. 6 spot.
5. Antonio Cromartie
Former All-Pro cornerback Antonio Cromartie did not get a lot of attention in his first two years in New York. He played in the shadow of Darrelle Revis, and being the best No. 2 cornerback in the NFL is not enough to be a star.
Cromartie is now in the spotlight because of the injury to Revis. Cromartie has stepped up and played better since the injury in Week 3. He has three interceptions so far this season.
While the drop-off from Revis to Cromartie is noticeable, it is not as big as the drop-off from Cromartie to the next tier of corners on the Jets—Kyle Wilson and Ellis Lankster.
Able to shut down opposing No. 1 reasons for the most part, Cromartie is a perfectly fine No. 1 cornerback. Even without Revis, the Jets remain a top 10 team against the pass, in large part due to Pro Bowl quality performances from Cromartie.
4. Muhammad Wilkerson
I expect this to be my most controversial pick. However, second-year defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson has been clearly the No. 4 player (and best healthy defensive player) on the Jets this season.
He stuffs runs, he sets the edge, he gets pressures. In other words, he does all the things that don't get you on highlight reels. Moreover, he's doing it for a team that is now 3-5.
Performing great in boring ways for a losing team is the best formula for going unnoticed in the NFL. Wilkerson is far from being a household name. However, his consistent pass pressure and fantastic run defense have separated him from the pack on the Jets defensive line.
Wilkerson is rated as the No. 1 player on the Jets defense so far this year, by a surprisingly wide margin. There is one he thing he can that no one else on the Jets defense can say:
He has played well in every game so far this season.
That is called consistency, and Wilkerson is one of the few players on the Jets who has it.
3.* Sione Pouha
Sione Pouha is perhaps the most underrated defender in the NFL. At nose tackle—the most unsung position in the league—Pouha is the best there is at digging in on the trenches, occupying two blockers and stopping the run.
Rated the best nose tackle in the NFL in 2011, Pouha is an eight-year veteran. He has spent his whole career so far with the Jets and is widely considered to be one of the best best run-stuffers in the NFL.
At 325 pounds, he takes up a lot of space on the interior line, and can consistently generate a push against double teams.
Unfortunately for the Jets, Pouha has the injury asterisk next to his name. Pouha has been dealing with back problems all season. He missed four of the first seven games, and was well below 100 percent in the first three games in which he played.
Due to injury, he has had little value for the Jets so far this season. His backup—Kenrick Ellis—is also hurt. The combination of those two injuries has greatly damaged the Jets' run defense.
If the Jets want to reclaim the title of best defense in the NFL, one important and necessary step is getting a healthy Sione Pouha back on the field.
2. Nick Mangold
Center Nick Mangold is a complete no-brainer at the No. 2 spot. He is by a wide margin the best offensive player on the Jets and is arguably the best center in the NFL.
Mangold was a first-round pick by the Jets in 2006. He is already a three-time All-Pro player and has been a Pro Bowler in each the last four years. He ranked second in the NFL among centers in 2011.
The Jets' collapse during his absence in 2011 was evidence of his great value to the team. That season the Jets lost three consecutive winnable games following an injury to Mangold, which can be attributed as the main reason they failed to reach the playoffs.
One of the best things about Mangold is his versatility. He is a powerful run blocker, and can easily drive back any defensive lineman in the NFL. He is also one of the best pass blockers in the NFL, both in terms of sacks yielded and pressures yielded.
Said rival defensive tackle Vince Wilfork of the New England Patriots:
[He's] probably the best. I've been saying this since he was a rookie. He's been pretty steady for them and it hasn't changed. It seems like everything goes through him. The run game, he calls the plays on the line slides. He's the guy in charge. That's how it should be. That's their bread and butter. If they're running the ball, it always seems to be behind 74.
Mangold is arguably the most reliable and consistent leader on the Jets. He has been a contributor and locker-room presence since his rookie year. He has a hand in everything good that comes out of the Jets offense.
1.* Darrelle Revis
It is a shame for Jets fans that their No. 1 player has the injury asterisk. Revis only played in two games for the Jets this year (both wins) before tearing his ACL. He is gone for the season. They are currently 1-5 when he does not play.
For countless reasons, Revis is far-and-away the best player on the Jets. He is without a doubt the best cornerback in the NFL, both against the run and the pass. He is a hard-worker, strong leader and a dominant and reliable player.
Revis is already considered the best cornerback since Deion Sanders by many and the best of all time by some. Assuming he returns from injury and is at least close to his former level of ability, he is a surefire Hall of Famer.
Rex Ryan wants to have the best defense on the field every Sunday. However, that cannot happen until he has the best defender in the NFL back on the field.