As the Jets get close to training camp, I am going to examine the roster and give you my top 25 players. Each weekday, we will reveal another person on the list, leading right into camp. I am not including rookies on this list because I do not feel it is possible to fully evaluate them before they play a game.
Last year’s ranking: Unranked (rookie)
Position: Outside linebacker
How acquired: Selected in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft
Years left on contract: 3
2017 Salary Cap figure: $740,980
Looking back at 2016: A calf injury kept Jenkins out of the first two games of the season and slowed his progress early in the year. But Jenkins got better as the year wore on and played his best football in December and January. His 2 ½ sacks came during that time. He looked more confident and comfortable.
Pro Football Focus ranked Jenkins 54th out of the 109 edge defenders graded. He finished the year with a forced fumble and a fumble recovery to go along with the 2 ½ sacks.
Jenkins showed he can set the edge and was strong against the run. He struggled in coverage at times, giving up a touchdown against the Dolphins in the first meeting of the year with Miami.
The coaches’ confidence in Jenkins grew as the year went on. He played a season-high 64 snaps in Week 16 against the Patriots.
Outlook for 2017: Jenkins will begin camp as one of the starting outside linebackers. He spent this offseason working with pass-rushing guru Chuck Smith in hopes of adding some pass-rushing moves to his repertoire and becoming more of a disruptive force. The Jets have been searching for a pass rusher for more than a decade, and will be thrilled if Jenkins can give them an outside rush.
Jenkins should benefit from the addition of outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene. The Hall of Famer brought significant energy to the spring practices and was an expert pass rusher as a player.
Jenkins may never be a flashy player, but his rookie year indicated he can be a solid, reliable piece of the Jets defense for years to come. He now must build on that in Year 2.