So many New York Jets offseason storylines are tied up in losing Darrelle Revis, adding Geno Smith and trying to lose Mark Sanchez. There are throwaway jokes abound on Twitter, Tumblr, George R.R. Martin‘s blog — pretty much every nook and cranny of the Internet — making fun of the Jets for having just traded away their one elite player.
But that might not be so.
Many analysts have tracked his quiet climb, but Muhammad Wilkerson has remarkably managed to fly relatively under the radar in the New York market. Now that Tim Tebow has left and Sanchez could end up on the bench, there might just be some ample space on the airwaves for Wilkerson. The Temple alum finished his second season in the NFL ranked second to only JJ Watt, that’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year JJ Watt, in Pro Football Focus’ 3-4 defensive end grading.
The allure of making your way up the Gang Green defense is no longer about playing in the same unit as an elite cornerback like Revis, but now joining and watching an elite 3-4 end like Wilkerson.
“I was a noseguard in college. Now I’m a defensive end,” said Jake McDonough, who will be competing for the spot vacated by Mike Devito. “I’m playing a whole new position — and I’m loving it. Learning from Mo he’s a heck of a guy to learn from. Especially watching film of him and seeing how he does things inspires me to perfect my craft.”
Wilkerson ranked second against the run and fourth in pass rush last season, via PFF grading, and it will be interesting to see how his play will function among the slew of young front-seven weapons that now includes first-rounder Sheldon Richardson.