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Jets depth chart 2021: New York’s projected Week 1 starters heading into OTAs, training camp

The New York Jets underwent a series of seismic changes this offseason. Gone is deposed ex-coach Adam Gase, along with several of the players whose underperformance was the trademark of the Gase era. In his place, the Jets hired former San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, and he and general manager Joe Douglas set out to remake the team’s roster in their image. 

That renovation included a change at quarterback, along with a change in offensive philosophy. It also included splashing the pot in free agency, laying out big money for two of the top targets on the market. All of the upheaval has resulted in a dramatically different depth chart from the one the Jets rolled out last year. 

As part of our ongoing series here at CBSSports.com, let’s take a look at where the Jets’ roster stands right now. 

Note: Asterisks denote rookies.

Offense

Obviously, the Jets have made a lot of changes on this side of the ball. Not only do they have a new offensive coordinator (Mike LaFleur, the former 49ers passing-game coordinator and brother of Packers head coach Matt LaFleur), they’ve got four new starters — at least two of which are rookies. (It’s possible they could have three rookies starting.)

The first change is under center, where No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson takes over for Sam Darnold, who was traded to the Carolina Panthers. The Jets are already doing a better job surrounding Wilson with talent than they ever did for Darnold, and nowhere is that more obvious than on his blind side, where they added Alijah Vera-Tucker to play guard next to last year’s first-round pick, Mekhi Becton. 

But the Jets also added Corey Davis in free agency, as well as Elijah Moore at the top of the second round of the draft. Jamison Crowder is still the likely starting slot man if he’s on the roster, but his contract and the presence of Moore makes him expendable, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he were cut or traded before the season. Perhaps the new coaching staff can finally get something out of Chris Herndon, who was utterly wasted in the Adam Gase era. The Shanahan-style offense is tight end-friendly, and LaFleur should be able to use the athletic Herndon to create matchup advantages. 

The biggest question mark here is in the backfield, where it’s unclear if Michael Carter will be the lead man right away or if he’ll have to share reps with Tevin Coleman and/or Lamical Perine and/or Ty Johnson. Carter has been working with the ones pretty often already in minicamp, so the bet here is he gets a crack at the top job from the jump, with Coleman providing a security blanket as a guy who knows the system well.

Defense

New head coach Robert Saleh’s calling card is defense, and with this group, it needs to be. New York made a splashy signing with Carl Lawson and still has Quinnen Williams and Marcus Maye held over from the previous regime, but this is a talent-deprived group at a bunch of positions. 

Specifically, the cornerback group in New York is rough. It was somewhat surprising that the Jets didn’t address the position earlier in the draft, and it’ll be interesting to see if they can cover for long enough to let the Lawson and Sheldon Rankins-infused pass rush hit home. Saleh has done yeoman’s work with seemingly undermanned secondaries before, but he’s got his work cut out for him here — even if Maye and Ashtyn Davis could form a solid safety duo.

Lawson will get help up front primarily from Williams, Rankins, Vinny Curry, and Ronald Blair, but there are some solid depth pieces available as well. It’ll be interesting to watch C.J. Mosley in his return after he opted out of last season, and to see whether the Jets can finally tap into the athleticism that made Jarrad Davis a first-round pick. They’ll have to count on the front seven to make the majority of the plays.




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