In an occasional feature, we're going to briefly highlight any of the lesser-known players that make an unexpected impact during camp or in the season. Today, we focus on defensive end Micheal Clemons:
What he did:
Clemons was the Jets' final draft pick in April, and joins a position group where there aren't many reps available, with everyone ahead of him firing on all cylinders.
However, the Jets are reportedly thrilled with his progress and players and coaches have taken notice of the rookie's performances so far:
Robert Saleh said that Michael Clemons is like Deebo from Friday.— Zack Rosenblatt (@ZackBlatt) August 8, 2022
“He doesn’t flinch.” #Jets
Clemons stood out as much as anyone in Saturday's Green and White scrimmage, especially against the run where his power and ability to move laterally along the line saw him getting in on three or four stuffs.
He's not quite so far along in terms of his pass rushing, but watching him on Monday, you can see that the power he brings makes him hard to stop on the bull rush and he got to the quarterback first a few times.
What has the Jets excited about Clemons is that he's a student of the game and loves football, showing an obsessiveness to learn the defense inside-out and maximize his potential.
We've seen young players dominate at camp before only to then fizzle out, but right now we're on a path to a scenario whereby the Jets can't keep Clemons off the field.
That being the case, who gives way? Hamilcar Rashed was already cut, Vinny Curry has fallen behind due to a hamstring injury and Bradlee Anae was always going to be a long shot. However, there are still several players who would have been ahead of Clemons at the start of camp.
As long as everyone remains healthy, Carl Lawson and John Franklin-Myers will start. Yes, the Jets will move Franklin-Myers inside at times, but he'll still eat up reps on running downs.
The three main players competing with Clemons to be a primary backup are Clemons' fellow rookie Jermaine Johnson, offseason acquisition Jacob Martin and the incumbent Bryce Huff. Johnson had a bit of a breakout on Monday, including one period where he got to the quarterback on three consecutive snaps. Jacob Martin has been racking up sacks since camp began - and is guaranteed $6 million. Huff started seven times last year and posted decent metrics in a few pass rush categories. Simply put, all four are worthy of a role.
Like Franklin-Myers, Clemons has the ability to move inside in certain situations, so that might give him more chances to get involved in spite of the impending logjam. Ultimately, though, it may require either an injury or a trade for the picture to become clear. Clemons is doing the right thing by just focusing on himself and this is working well for him so far.
More on Clemons:
Here's the in-depth scouting report on Clemons.