Today we start our annual offseason countdown of the Jets’ roster by looking at Steve McLendon.
Name: Steve McLendon
Year with Jets: 3rd
Projected Role: Starting nose tackle
His 2017: Given the offseason purge of veterans the Jets had and his cap hit at close to $4 million, McLendon seemed to me like a possible candidate to be a surprise camp cut. The Jets decided to keep the veteran defensive lineman around, however.
He put together a second productive year with the Jets. Much of evaluating the nose tackle position is based on the eye test. Fortunately, PFF at least now provides us more statistical tools than we used to have.
Steve McLendon was a force in the trenches last season! pic.twitter.com/PO8apTzROW— PFF NY Jets (@PFF_Jets) May 18, 2018
PFF also keeps a stat called Stops. A Stop is a tackle that results in a failed play for the offense. McLendon had a Stop on 12.8% of the run snaps he saw. That was the second best percentage in the league behind Damon Harrison.
So while unheralded, I would say McLendon is a very good player. You don’t even need to trust my eye test.
2018 will be a success if: McLendon puts together another quality year like he had in 2017.
In the days of the high octane passing offense, the league doesn’t put premium value on players like McLendon. Despite suiting up for all 16 games, he only played 43% of the Jets’ defensive snaps. His $4.2 million cap hit for 2018 is pretty high for a guy with his role, but it isn’t a cap busting number in the least.
The Jets want to get what they pay for. McLendon is paid at the high end because he is a high end performer for his role. While it is a passing league, allowing teams to run at will on early downs is certainly not a recipe for success. By sticking McLendon in there on first and second down, the Jets increase their odds of shutting down the other team’s rushing attack.
Odds of making the roster: As I said, cutting McLendon in camp a year ago seemed plausible when the Jets were in total tear down mode. This year he has a role so I will list him as a Lock (>99%)