Jets Players to Watch Ahead of Preseason Week 1

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IIAugust 9, 2021

Jets Players to Watch Ahead of Preseason Week 1

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    RICH SCHULTZ/Associated Press

    On Saturday night, New York Jets fans got their first glimpse at the 2021 team in a game setting. The Green and White scrimmage took place at MetLife Stadium, which was a step up from watching the team practice during training camp.

    The Jets will be back at MetLife Stadium on Saturday when they take on the New York Giants in the first of their three preseason games. It will be the first opportunity for these players to suit up and hit players wearing a different uniform this summer.

    While preseason results don't matter, the games are important because players are trying to ramp up ahead of the upcoming season. And for some, there are position battles taking place, so they need to go out there and impress the coaching staff to try to earn either a starting spot or a place on the roster.

    With the Jets' preseason opener only five days away, here are a few players to keep an eye on heading into the matchup vs. the Giants.

Zach Wilson, QB

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    RICH SCHULTZ/Associated Press

    Jets fans are hoping that Zach Wilson can become the franchise quarterback for years to come. That's what the team was expecting when it used the No. 2 overall pick to land the former BYU standout in the 2021 NFL draft. However, Wilson wasn't too impressive during the Green and White scrimmage.

    Going up against his New York teammates, Wilson went 11-for-24 for 112 yards and two interceptions. The Jets' offense produced only three points with Wilson at the helm. But the 22-year-old is going to go through growing pains, and he seems to understand that will be the case.

    "I'm going to go back and find out what I can learn from it," Wilson said, per SNY's Ralph Vacchiano. "You can't get down on yourself. I've got all the confidence in the world in myself. It's just understanding that it takes time. And I'll do everything I can to get there."

    Wilson will have his first opportunity to go against another team's defense when he faces the Giants. He could have a better showing if he corrects some of the issues from the Jets' scrimmage. So Wilson's growth and maturation will be something to watch, not only throughout the preseason but once the regular season arrives as well.

Denzel Mims, WR

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    Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

    Mims had some opportunities to flash his potential as a rookie in 2020, and that's what he did at times. But the Jets' receiving corps is now much more crowded. They added Corey Davis and Keelan Cole during free agency and used a second-round pick to draft Elijah Moore, while others such as Jamison Crowder and Braxton Berrios have also returned.

    If Mims is going to carve out a role on New York's offense, he may need to impress during preseason action. Especially considering he's been working with the second- and third-team offenses early in training camp, according to ESPN's Rich Cimini.

    While there's been some speculation that Mims could be on the roster bubble, Brian Costello of the New York Post reported that the Jets "still see Mims as a big part of the 2021 team and are not even close to considering moving on from him." Mims was a 2020 second-round pick who had 23 receptions for 357 yards in nine games last season, so it's easy to see his potential impact.

    Still, Mims could be motivated to have a big preseason with quite a few receivers likely ahead of him on the depth chart at this point. Keep an eye on the 23-year-old receiver when he takes the field this preseason to see how he stacks up to those who he's battling with.

Hamsah Nasirildeen, LB

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    Rusty Costanza/Associated Press

    Nasirildeen's draft stock fell when he was limited to two games during his senior season at Florida State in 2020 because of injury. That's why he was still on the board when the Jets took him with the 186th overall pick of the 2021 NFL draft, which came in the sixth round.

    Not only is Nasirildeen now trying to prove himself with New York, but he's doing so at a new position. After playing safety all four seasons with the Seminoles, he's been converted to linebacker as the Jets implement a 4-3 defense under new head coach Robert Saleh and new defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich.

    Nasirildeen could even end up as a starter on the Jets' new-look defense if he performs well throughout the preseason. And it seems he's off to an impressive start in training camp. He's even been lining up with the first team, according to Eric Allen of the Jets' official website.

    With the skills and athleticism that allowed him to be a defensive back in college, Nasirildeen has the potential to be an exciting player for New York, possibly as soon as this season. As he looks to solidify his spot (maybe even a starting job), he should be exciting to watch this preseason.