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NY Jets: Room To Grow

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The Jets defense is young

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

After selecting defense/offense/defense in consecutive drafts, Maccagnan is starting to show which traits he values and which he doesn't. While two first round picks hardly constitute a pattern, I did find it interesting that both of Maccagnan's selections were extremely young, even for rookies. Darron Lee and Leonard Williams are both just 21 years old right now. In addition, both players are still growing into their positions. Lee played quarterback and safety in high school and is still growing into the linebacker position. Leonard Williams wasn't allowed to play Pop Warner football because he was just too darn big. Both players have a lot of room to grow.

The same can be said about the Jets defense under Maccagnan and Bowles. While there are some starters who are in the twilight of their careers, the Jets defense is now overflowing with young talent. Here's a quick look at some of the probable contributors by age range:

25 and Under:

Leonard Williams (21)

Sheldon Richardson (25)

Lorenzo Mauldin (23)

Calvin Pryor (23)

Darron Lee (21)

Jordan Jenkins (21)

(UDFA through Houston) Marcus Williams (25)

Dee Milliner (24)

Dexter McDougal (25)

(UDFA) Taiwan Jones (22)

26-27

Muhammad Wilkerson (26)

Buster Skrine (27)

Marcus Gilchrist (27)

28+

Darrelle Revis (30)

David Harris (32)

Erin Henderson (29)

Stephen Bowen (32)

Looking at this list, I really only see 2 full time starters who are over 27 years old (Darrelle Revis and David Harris.) Erin Henderson will likely be in a timeshare again, while Bowen will be a depth player. Meanwhile, the Jets have 3 young linebackers drafted in the first 3 rounds locked up for the next 3 seasons (rule of threes!) On the defensive line, they have Sheldon Richardson and Leonard Williams for at least 3 more seasons as well (with Richardson's 5th year option.) Wilkerson's future is a question mark, but if a deal does materialize, he is also just 26 years old. In the secondary, Pryor, Skrine, Gilchrist, and Williams could all be held onto for another 3 years. While McDougal and Milliner haven't done anything to inspire confidence, the Jets also have the option to keep them around for a couple more years. Deon Simon (25) is another potential contributor in 3-4 run formations.

In short, Maccagnan and Bowles are building a young defensive core. Despite the loss of Damon Harrison this year and the potential loss of Wilkerson next year, the Jets are working with a ton of young talent on defense. If Jenkins and Lee can step into starting roles in the near future, the Jets could have the youngest (and possibly the most talented) front 7 in football.