Why Edge Rusher Jordan Jenkins Deserves a Second Contract

An elite pass rusher off the edge can change a game in an instant. The last time the New York Jets had that threat was with John Abraham

He last played for the team in 2005.

Since then, it has been trial and error trying to find a player to fill that void. Muhammad Wilkerson made the Pro Bowl in 2015 with 12.0 sacks… but injuries and inconsistent play pushed him out of the league. Sheldon Richardson never became the pass-rushing threat he was expected to become after his second season. Most recently, Leonard Williams’ inability to turn quarterback hits into sacks drove him to the opposite side of MetLife Stadium. 

It has been too long since the Jets have even had any sort of consistent pass rusher off the edge. And given how productive Gregg Williams’ has been without a healthy defense, specifically along the line, it puts the front office on notice. The team needs to do whatever it costs to get a consistent presence off the edge. 

As the lone productive mid-round pick from the Mike Maccagnan era, Jordan Jenkins should already be a household name amongst Jets fans. The definition of a football player rather than a natural athlete, Jenkins is a leader and smart player. He has used his football I.Q. to become not just a run stuffer, but a threat to take down the quarterback. So why would the Jets just let their homegrown rusher walk this March?

Jordan Jenkins Deserves A Second Contract

College to the Draft

The Georgia Bulldogs are known for their elite run-stopping defense. From 2012-2015, it was all about stopping the big play. At 6’3″ and 260 pounds, Jenkins was the perfect 4-3 defensive end. With teammates Leonard Floyd and Lorenzo Carter joining him, the team was focused on stopping the run before getting to the passer. That being said, entering the draft Lance Zierlein of NFL.com’s scouting report was that “Jenkins may not be viewed as a dangerous enough as a pass rusher to warrant a first-round pick, but he’s a safe pick whose toughness and football I.Q. make him an early starter candidate.” 

On the second night of the 2016 NFL Draft, Jenkins was selected by the Jets with the 83rd overall pick (third round). Looking back now, he is an absolute steal compared to those before him. First-round pick linebacker Darron Lee is with the Kansas City Chiefs, and quarterback Christian Hackenberg is not even in the league. 

The Pros

Switching to outside linebacker to fit the Jets 3-4 defense, he was an immediate contributor. Zierlein looked like he was on the money, as his I.Q. and run-stopping ability were clear through 11 starts as a rookie. Jenkins has never looked back, with 44 starts through his first 54 games of his career.

After a solid first two seasons, Jenkins has begun silencing critics. His third season ended with a career-high and team-leading 7.0 sacks to go with 15 quarterback hits. Every year he has improved that number and is on pace to be around the 7.0 sack mark again, even though he missed three games. 

The Impact

In the long term, who knows if Jenkins can ever reach a Khalil Mack or Von Miller level. Yet his consistency is something that mirrors that of former Jets outside linebacker Calvin Pace. In eight seasons with the Jets, Pace averaged about 5.5 sacks a season, which seems to be an expected minimum going forward for Jenkins. At 25 years old, Jenkins still has plenty of room to grow as a pass rusher and is years from hitting his prime. 

Gregg Williams’ aggressive playcalling as defensive coordinator has allowed Jenkins to capitalize more off the edge as well. Once again, Jenkins should hit his career-high mark while playing in fewer games than a year ago. Over the past three weeks, Jenkins has three sacks, which might not jump off of the stat sheet. But his impact cannot be ignored. Since returning from injury and hitting stride, the Jets have 16 sacks in three games. In the seven games prior (three without Jenkins), the Jets had only 29. This certainly something taking note of. 

Last Word on Why Jordan Jenkins Deserves A Second Contract

When it is all said and done, who knows if Jenkins will be a consistent 12-15 sack player when he hits his prime. He will certainly go down as the only successful Maccagnan mid-round pick and demand a solid contract on the market. Jenkins is only 25, is continuing to perfect his game as a pass rusher with a high ceiling, and has been a fantastic leader in the locker room. 

So why would the Jets just let a great player walk and leave the team with no established pass rushers?

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