Previously we broke down the defense for this week’s upcoming game for the Dallas Cowboys, now we dive back into the position battleground, this time looking at how each team’s rookie class stack up against each other.
NT Mazi Smith (First Round)
On the stat sheet it looks like Mazi Smith had a pretty quiet night against the Giants, and in some ways you could say it was a little uneventful. But we did see him on a play pushing the offensive linemen back into Daniel Jones which caused him to move out of the pocket. The play was intriguing as it showed his raw power and tenacity. This week both nose tackles, Smith and Johnathan Hankins, will be important to help slow the Jets rushing attack, and with that we should see an uptick in Smith’s snap counts.
TE Luke Schoonmaker (Second Round)
Last week Schoonmaker didn’t make a catch or get involved much in the passing game. But he was important as a run blocker. He came in on a dozen plays. This week there’s a chance he gets more involved on a few throws. The Jets can be exploited in the middle of the field and it could be Schoonmaker making that catch.
RB Deuce Vaughn (Sixth Round)
The crowd instantly boomed his name as he took to the field. It wasn’t until the coaches started pulling the starters from the game and rotated to the backup and third-string players did we get to see Deuce Vaughn. He had six attempts and averaged 1.8 yards per carry. It was a tough day for Vaughn, but he showed the willingness and toughness to go out there and do his part. This shows there’s a clear RB1 and RB2 on the roster, and Vaughn’s utilization is completely dependent on game script.
K Brandon Aubrey (UDFA)
As mentioned in the defensive article, the miss that Aubrey made at the start of the game can be seen as a concern, or there’s some level of assurance from how he played. Either way you have to be impressed by the way he didn’t let the first failed kick lead to a second or let it deteriorate his game. After the first missed extra point he stayed on target and was perfect, and that’s worth something. Can he progress now in this game and show he can stay perfect from the start?
New York Jets
The list for the Jets is pretty small, that’s mostly down to injury, but also depth at the positions they drafted. Their second-round pick, Joe Tippman, sits behind center Connor McGovern (not that one).
Their fourth round pick, offensive lineman Carter Warren, is on injured reserve. Their sixth-round pick, cornerback Jarrick Bernard-Converse is on the PUP list. And their tight end, Zack Kuntz, who they took with their last pick was released but came back to their practice squad.
The Jets also have two other players way down on their depth chart. Running back Israel Abanikanda from Pittsburgh has yet to play a snap on offense. And they also have linebacker Zaire Barnes from Western Michigan and he also has zero snaps so far for the Jets.
That leaves two players in their rookie class to talk about.
DE Will McDonald IV (First Round)
Will McDonald played 13 snaps for the Jets last week. He made one tackle over the short time he had on the field. He didn’t get a sack or even a pressure. But believe it, he’s a talented pass rusher. He’s explosive with great length and hits linemen with incredible timing. Whether he gets more playing time this week with other Jets defensive linemen set to return is unknown. But when he gets the chance he can unleash an almost unstoppable spin move.
WR Xavier Gipson (UDFA)
There’s a chance, a small chance, that Gipson could be sitting on the sidelines this week. That’s because Mecole Hardman is set to play if all goes to plan. As well as wide receiver, Hardman also plays as one of the team’s punt returners. Last week, Gipson wasn’t on offense as a wide receiver, but he returned the punt for a touchdown that won the game in overtime. It’s tough to say how the Jets will handle Hardman and Gipson this week. Look to see who’s lining up deep on the Cowboys first punt.
Which team has the better set of rookies?
New York Jets