Ranking the New York Jets' Top 25 Players: No. 1, DE Muhammad Wilkerson

By Greg Sulik
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We have finally reached the No. 1 spot on our rankings of the top 25 New York Jets, and to the surprise of absolutely no one, defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson has earned the top spot. Wilkerson emerged as a dominant force on the defensive line in his third season, and he has gotten better every year he’s been in the NFL. It is clear the Jets found a special talent when they drafted him 30th overall in 2011, and the team is very excited to see just how good he can become.

Wilkerson recorded 63 tackles, 10.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and 1 interception last season, narrowly missing his first Pro Bowl berth (the fact that Cameron Wake made the team over him remains incomprehensible). Wilkerson was equally dominant against the run and the pass, and his performance has led most observers consider him to be the second best 3-4 defensive end in the NFL, behind only the exceptional J.J. Watt.

Wilkerson led the Jets in sacks and tied for the team lead in forced fumbles, and he was able to make a huge impact against both the run and the pass. Wilkerson played 95% of the team’s defensive snaps, an exceptionally high workload that illustrates both his versatility and effectiveness. Wilkerson is the total package physically, and he has the intelligence and skill to maximize his physical gifts.

According to Football Outsiders, the Jets allowed the second fewest yards in the league when teams ran to their right tackle, aka directly at Wilkerson’s left defensive end spot in the base defense. With 10.5 sacks, 3 pass deflections and 1 interception he recorded in passing situations, Wilkerson would be a very impactful player. The fact that he can do all that while providing elite run defense is what makes him special.

Wilkerson is under contract for two more seasons, but extensions have already started to trickle in for the impressive 2011 draft class. Wilkerson could be in for a big pay day after this season, and the Jets would be very wise to lock down their star for a long time. Wilkerson has quickly become an elite player, and the Jets hope he will continue to get better. There is no reason to think he won’t, and there is absolutely no doubt that he is the Jets’ best player.

Greg Sulik is a New York Jets writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @GregSulik or add him to your network on Google

Previously: No. 25 Bilal PowellNo. 24 Kenrick EllisNo. 23 Geno SmithNo. 22 Dawan LandryNo. 21 Jeff CumberlandNo. 20 Antonio AllenNo. 19 Quinton CoplesNo. 18 Calvin PryorNo. 17 Michael VickNo. 16 Willie ColonNo. 15 Dee MillinerNo. 14 Calvin PaceNo. 13 Breno GiacominiNo. 12 Nick FolkNo. 11 Demario DavisNo. 10 Jeremy KerleyNo. 9 Chris JohnsonNo. 8 Chris IvoryNo. 7 David HarrisNo. 6 D’Brickashaw FergusonNo. 5 Eric Decker,No. 4 Damon HarrisonNo. 3 Nick Mangold, No. 2 Sheldon Richardson

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