The next player to appear on our rankings of the New York Jets’ top 25 players is nose tackle Damon Harrison, who enjoyed a meteoric rise to prominence last season after earning the starting job late in the preseason. Harrison was an undrafted free agent and barely played in 2012, but he grabbed his opportunity and ran with it last season.
Affectionately known as “Snacks”, Harrison is a mountain of human being in the middle of the Jets’ line, checking in at 6’4″, 350 lbs. Arguably no one was more important to a Jets run defense that finished third overall and first in yards per carry last season. Harrison’s traditional stat line says he recorded 66 tackles and one sack, but those numbers don’t even begin to tell the story of his impact last season.
According to Football Outsiders, the Jets finished third in the NFL in stuff percentage, which measures the amount of times run plays were stopped at or behind the line of scrimmage. Harrison played a huge role in that success, as he is able to occupy blockers in the middle of the line and create space for David Harris and Demario Davis to make tackles. Harrison is also very capable of getting penetration himself, showing excellent quickness off the ball for a man of his size.
According to Pro Football Focus, Harrison ranked second in the NFL in run stop percentage, behind only teammate Kenrick Ellis (who is Harrison’s backup and played far fewer snaps). That kind of impact is exactly what teams look for in a 3-4 nose tackle. Harrison is often removed from the game in passing situations, but you can make a very reasonable argument that there was not a single defensive lineman in the NFL who performed better against the run last season.
Harrison is entering the final year of his contract and will become a restricted free agent after this season, and it would be reasonable to expect the Jets to lock him up with a long term contract. Assuming that happens, Harrison will continue to join Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson in forming one of the best defensive lines in the NFL. Although his rise to prominence was extremely sudden, there is every reason to believe that Harrison will continue to produce at a high level. He is on his way to becoming one of the top nose tackles in football, and Harrison is very worthy of a spot among the Jets’ top 5 players.
Previously: No. 25 Bilal Powell, No. 24 Kenrick Ellis, No. 23 Geno Smith, No. 22 Dawan Landry, No. 21 Jeff Cumberland, No. 20 Antonio Allen, No. 19 Quinton Coples, No. 18 Calvin Pryor, No. 17 Michael Vick, No. 16 Willie Colon, No. 15 Dee Milliner, No. 14 Calvin Pace, No. 13 Breno Giacomini, No. 12 Nick Folk, No. 11 Demario Davis, No. 10 Jeremy Kerley, No. 9 Chris Johnson, No. 8 Chris Ivory, No. 7 David Harris, No. 6 D’Brickashaw Ferguson, No. 5 Eric Decker