In 2021, the Jets were in yet another rebuilding season. They had rookie quarterback, rookie running back, along with many other rookies in every position. Despite some injuries, most of these players showed promise during the latest season. The Jets draft class is looking to be impressive for the most part, thanks to Joe Douglas. Let’s take a look at some of the key rookies on both sides of the ball, and grade them based on their play in the previous season.
Zach Wilson, B+
Drafted with the second overall pick in the 2021 Draft out of BYU, with lofty expectations, Zach Wilson had a fairly good rookie season. His first couple of professional games were atrocious, but after his injury, he was able to step up his game. Wilson limited his turnovers, and his touchdown to interception ratio improved from 4:9 in his first 6 games, to 5:2 in his last 7 games. He played a great game against the then-defending Super Bowl Champions Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They only lost that game because of a patented Tom Brady 2 minute drill. So far, he hasn’t been the saving grace that Jets fans have been looking for since the 1960s, but he looks to have the right tools. With the right team around him, he could be set up for success.
Michael Carter, A-
A fourth overall pick from UNC, Carter exceeded expectations in his first season. He emerged as a dual-threat back, racking up 639 rush yards, as well as 325 receiving yards. He was the Jets leader in all-purpose scrimmage yards. Carter also sustained a minor injury throughout the season, playing in 14 out of 17 games. Expect Carter to have a breakout season next year, as his offensive line develops and improves. He will play a key role in Wilson’s development, as having a good run game takes the pressure off the QB.
Elijah Moore, B+
Elijah Moore was drafted to be a weapon in Zach Wilson’s offense. Moore was a second-round pick, but he had a slow start to his season, catching only nine passes in his first five games. It did not take him long to adapt to the pros, and he showed promise of becoming a star receiver. Following those five games, he picked up the pace and became a reliable receiver for Wilson. He scored 5 touchdowns and put up 538 yards., along with a rushing touchdown. He also missed time with an injury (I am sensing a common theme here) but was still impressive in the 11 games played. The rookie receiver averaged 12.5 yards per reception. He has the tools to break out next year, so expect him to go off.
Brandin Echols, C+
Echols had a pretty good year for a rookie cornerback. He had two interceptions, one of them being a game-tying pick-six against the Dolphins, and the other one is off of Tom Brady. Going into next season, he needs to work on consistency. He played well at times, however, he also got torched in multiple games. In both games with Buffalo, he gave up a combined 123 yards. Against the Dolphins, however, did not allow any yards with three pass breakups. If he plays the way he did against the Dolphins, then no quarterback will want to challenge him.
Hamsah Nasirildeen, F
Nasirildeen was a 6th round pick, but even still you expected him to have more of an impact. The linebacker only had 10 total tackles on the season, with his play being mainly on special teams. In Florida State, he had 101 tackles in his junior year, so him being this limited is strange. Hopefully, he gets more of an opportunity next season in Robert Saleh’s defense.
Alijah Vera-Tucker, A
With the Jets trading up in the draft to select him, Vera-Tucker knew his expectations would be high. Slotting in with fellow first-rounder Mekhi Bekton, they had the task of protecting their new QB. Vera-Tucker did not disappoint, using his 6’5, 309-pound frame to stop defenders in their tracks. He only allowed two sacks all season, using his footwork and sheer muscle and power in his game. The Jets O-Line is on track to be one of the best in the league if developed properly, as the Jets know that their number one priority is to protect Wilson.