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 linebacker Noah Dawkins:
What he did:
With the injury to Jarrad Davis, Dawkins' roster chances improved dramatically. The timing was interesting too, because it came as Dawkins had been getting some first team reps alongside Davis in the Packers game.
Dawkins continued to get some first team reps this week:
No Joyner today. Dawkins & Sherwood out there again with Mosley #Jets— Connor Hughes (@ConnorJHughes) August 24, 2021
Dawkins had been behind rookie Hamsah Nasirildeen for that third linebacker role and may just have been getting extra reps to enable the team to evaluate him but he certainly appears to be ahead of Milo Eifler and Del'Shawn Phillips (who has been injured for some time) to be the fifth linebacker with Davis out. He might even push Blake Cashman for time.
Dawkins actually played in five games with the Jets at the end of last season, albeit in a special teams-only role. That might be his best chance to make a contribution in 2021 too.
He was actually a defensive end in high school and college and is an outstanding athlete. Perhaps the Jets could exploit his pass rushing skills by putting him on the field in some subpackages and using him to blitz.
Dawkins is still only 24 but with three recent draft picks and two highly-paid veterans ahead of him, his chances of cracking the rotation might be slim unless there are further injuries. He's actually under contract for next year though, so if he lasts the season, some of the players ahead of him might be gone in 2022.
When he gets on the field, Dawkins will be looking to impress in any way he can and could be an interesting player to keep an eye on in tomorrow night's game.
More on Dawkins:
Here's the in-depth scouting report on Dawkins.