The Jets' seemingly never-ending search for an edge rusher has a new candidate, as Jordan Jenkins is optimistic he can have a break-out season in 2017. Jenkins posted just 2.5 sacks as a rookie, all within the last four games of the season.
Although Calvin Pace posted a career-high 10 sacks in 2013, most of those were of the clean-up variety or coverage sacks. Otherwise, it's been interior players such as Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson and Leonard Williams that have been generating most of the pass rushing production in recent years.
When will the team find their next John Abraham? And could Jenkins - who Richardson called "a monster" at mini-camp last year - be the man for the job?
Optimism is high, as Jenkins - who attended college at Georgia - has spent two months working with pass rushing guru Chuck Smith in Atlanta. Jenkins seems to have learned a lot from the experience:
"You have to really learn pass rush. And I never really was taught pass rush at any level, from high school on up. I didn’t realize how much I was missing until I started working with Chuck [...] He just sort of helped me understand pass rush, and understand my body movements and just different ways you can use your move. It just helped me understand when I should use a move and when I shouldn’t."
Sounds promising, right?
However, you can't rely on Smith to fix everyone. Three years ago, Smith was saying this about his latest offseason development project:
"Quinton [Coples] has the capability to be a 10 sack guy. This guy has a chance to be dominant. He's only scratched the surface of what he can be [...] I expect him to dominate this year - to bludgeon people."
And, four years before then, Smith was hired by the team as a pass rushing consultant at which time he said that Vernon Gholston "can be a predator". Gholston himself had said that Smith had been "huge for us".
The recent news that Lorenzo Mauldin has lost weight in an effort to regain some quickness suggests Mauldin may be employed in more of a situational pass rushing role in 2017. Jenkins, however, is stronger against the run so might see more playing time in base packages.
Whether he can turn that increased playing time into increased production remains to be seen, but we'll be looking for early signs of improvement starting this week.