If you’re a regular reader of this site you may have noticed that I love Pro Football Focus. It’s one of the best football sites on the planet, using advanced analysis to break down football that is very 21st-century.
They’ve been doing a series all off-season called “Secret Superstar,” which looks at an underrated force on each team that is key to their success.
Today, they posted on a piece on the New York Jets’ Secret Superstar, defensive lineman Mike DeVito.
Many fans around the NFL may not know much about the versatile DeVito, but to Jets fans, he’s become an unsung hero and a household name over the last few years.
In 2010, the Jets lost Kris Jenkins to an injury just five plays into the season, and it forced DeVito into a much bigger role than the Jets had first anticipated. The 26-year-old undrafted free agent out of Maine responded better than anyone could have ever expected.
Devito’s play continued to justify not only his roster spot, but his 2009 contract extension as well. A standout as a college nose tackle at Maine, he took to playing tackle in a 4-3 alignment and was as comfortable with the move to 3-4 end, a force versus the run at every stage.
Week after week during the 2010 season, Devito showed that he deserved to be the starter. He ended his first ten games with a positive rating, thanks mostly to his ability to stop the run. Two of his best run-stopping games came early in the season where he got the best of Ravens guards Ben Grubbs and Chris Chester, and then Patriots guard Dan Connolly and center Dan Koppen for seven stops in two games.
DeVito eventually hit some rough spots, as he wasn’t as effective weeks 12 through 16. He actually played a lot of snaps in week 17 against Buffalo and used it as a great tuneup, as he dominated in the game. He posted his best single-game grade of the season in the regular season finale, leading to a second wind in the postseason.
In the Wild Card round, Devito was back to his usual self, getting the best of Jeff Saturday for another three stop day and, in his third time facing the Patriots’ offensive line, he did the same but also added a forced fumble in the fourth quarter.
Devito went to another level in the AFC title game, earning a positive grade on an outstanding 10 plays. He came away with a safety in the fourth quarter and had three other moments where he secured tackles for short gains or no gain. It was a day-long battle, especially when he squared-off with the right side of the Steelers’ line, Ramon Foster and Flozell Adams, but overall, Devito won the fight with seven tackles and six stops.
All told, Devito finished as our top-graded 3-4 end in run defense. (my own emphasis)
A lot of people know the Jets have a great defense, but many people don’t know about some of the overlooked key cogs that keep the Jets defense so dominant. The Jets are rumored to be interested in a defensive lineman in the first round of the draft again this year, just like they were last year when they took a cornerback.
Even friend of the site Nick Spano of FloppingOut.com has the Jets taking DE Cameron Jordan in his Mock Draft. It doesn’t hurt to have depth, especially on the line.
It’ll be interesting to see what the Jets do at that position going into the NFL Draft in a few weeks. But Pro Football Focus said it best:
There isn’t yet a clear answer to who will line up next to Devito and Pouha next year, but it is clear that the Jets have two thirds of a defensive line that teams will not want to run against.
All of the players leaving might be big names, but the players left, Devito in particular, are names you need to know.
Mike DeVito is going to be a guy that gets more recognition next year and beyond as he continues to get better. The Jets are very lucky to have him. The Secret Superstar.