With the regular season underway, we’re going to be looking at the players the Jets have added since cutdown day, continuing today with John Franklin-Myers.
The 23-year old defensive lineman is listed at 6’4” and 288 pounds and was a fourth round pick out of Stephen F. Austin last season. He had 10 tackles and two sacks in his rookie season, plus another three tackles and a sack in the postseason. However, he failed to make the Rams’ final roster in preseason so the Jets were able to claim him off waivers. The Jets placed Franklin-Myers on injured reserve on Friday.
Franklin-Myers endured a tough high school career, where his team went 0-40 while he was there. However, he headed to Stephen F. Austin and played in eight games as a freshman, registering 11 tackles including one for a loss.
Over the next three years, his role continued to increase and he was a two-time all-Southland Conference second teamer and one-time first-teamer. Those first-team honors came after his junior year where he posted career highs of 14.5 tackles for loss, eight sacks and four forced fumbles.
As a senior, Franklin-Myers posted a career high 55 tackles, but his pass rush production declined as he only had 3.5 sacks after having had 14 over the previous two years. He ended his college career with 130 tackles and 17.5 sacks.
In the pre-draft period, Franklin-Myers boosted his stock with a strong performance in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl and with a decent combine workout. The Rams selected him in the fourth round and used him as a rotational role in his rookie year.
After having some modest success in that role, Franklin-Myers was competing for a role within the Rams’ stacked front seven in preseason, but they decided to release him in final cuts so he was claimed by the Jets off waivers.
Franklin-Myers was inactive for each of the first three games of the season and was then placed on injured reserve on Friday. The team could, in theory, activate Franklin-Myers in December, but otherwise will probably retain his rights and bring him to camp next season.
Now let’s take a look at what Franklin-Myers brings to the table, divided into categories.
Franklin-Myers has a big frame and has fluctuated between about 280 and 300 during recent years. Despite not having long arms, he does boast an 82-inch wingspan.
At the combine, Franklin-Myers showed that he is strong enough to play on the defensive line with 26 bench press reps, but athletic enough to play on the edge with a 4.75 in the 40-yard dash. His explosiveness and agility numbers were about average for his size.
Franklin-Myers has played both inside and on the edge, although he’s primarily been employed as an edge defender both in college and with the Rams. He saw more action on the inside in his senior year and, having not played there much in 2018, he was also used more on the interior by the Rams in preseason this year than in the past.
He has plenty of experience of lining up with his hand in the dirt, often in a four-point stance, but has also played a lot as a stand-up linebacker.
Franklin-Myers has yet to get a chance to show he could handle a starter’s workload. The most snaps he’s played in an NFL preseason or regular season game is 35. He also used to rotate out regularly in college.
When he does get reps, he plays hard. Here, he keeps working after initially being repelled and ends up getting the strip sack on Tom Brady in the Super Bowl.
Franklin-Myers was a productive run defender at SFA and allayed concerns that this was mostly through being too physically dominant against low-level competition when he flourished in the NFLPA all-star game with six stops.
With the Rams, he’s not been used much against the run with over three quarters of his snaps being pass rush attempts. However, he’s made a few plays here and there and hasn’t had many negative plays.
With him potentially being viewed as a tweener, it’s encouraging to see plays like this where he holds up against the double-team and frees himself to get in on the stop.
When he does line up inside, Franklin-Myers could struggle to hold up at times though. On this play, he is initially driven off the line and then a second blocker knocks him off balance.
His athleticism can be an asset against the run when he’s on the edge, allowing him to try and shoot gaps or pursue runners. On this play, he spins off a block to make the stop.
Although he didn’t post massive numbers against lower-level competition in college, Franklin-Myers has decent potential as a pass rusher and has generated pressure at a decent rate with the Rams. Of course, that’s partly influenced by the extra attention some of the other front seven players will command, but he’s shown an ability to win a one-on-one match-up.
Franklin-Myers relies more on power than speed off the edge, as he’s shown an ability to get some good traction on a bull rush.
While he isn’t considered to be capable of bending the edge, Franklin-Myers manages to dip and duck to get around the left tackle for this strip sack.
Including preseason and postseason action, Franklin-Myers had five sacks with the Rams, with one coming on a stunt and the rest coming as he transitioned to a second move following an initial bull rush. He also has a good arm-over move that he can use effectively at times.
One area that scouting reports suggested Franklin-Myers would need to work on is the accuracy of his hand placement. This could affect his ability to get off blocks in a timely fashion.
He manages to get off the block well on this inside move though, starting off upfield and then shoving the right tackle aside to get a clean run at the quarterback.
Franklin-Myers was a productive tackler in college and doesn’t have many issues with missed tackles. Here was a rare one from preseason action.
He’s shown an ability to force fumbles, as he’s had two with the Rams and also posted four in his junior year.
With the Rams, Franklin-Myers was rarely required to drop into coverage. On one of the rare occasions where he did, the Saints exploited him for a nice gain.
He shows an ability to get his hands up to disrupt passing angles, batting down the pass at the line on this play.
Franklin-Myers has spoken about how he learned a lot in his rookie year about focus and attention to detail. In the trenches, he will sometimes have a tendency to battle with his man but without perhaps showing the patience so he is prepared to react to the action and get off the block.
As a pass rusher there was one play where he sensed a quick pass to the flat and cut off his rush to disrupt the passing angle, forcing a wide throw.
Ultimately, though, when employed mostly as a situational rusher, he didn’t get many opportunities to do much in the way of reading and reacting.
Franklin-Myers hasn’t contributed much on special teams. He’s mostly just been used to rush kicks with only a few other snaps on other units.
Franklin-Myers seems to have responded well to the challenge of coming from a small school, as well as bouncing back from all the losing his 0-40 high school team endured. His former coaches praised his work ethic and character and he is said to have matured a lot since being drafted.
His only penalty in regular season action was an unnecessary roughness penalty as he got into it with an opposing player at the end of the play. That’s something he will get involved in from time to time.
In preseason action, he had an illegal hands to the face call to negate an interception and also jumped offside once.
Franklin-Myers doesn’t have much of an injury history but was slowed by a foot issue before the bye week. He actually hadn’t been listed at all during the week, but was added to injured reserve on Friday.
Franklin-Myers projects similarly to Bronson Kaufusi, Henry Anderson and Kyle Phillips insofar as he is capable of playing inside but would probably see the majority of his reps on the edge if he gets an opportunity later in the year. Of course, those three might not all be here next season.
Ideally, the Jets need someone to step up and be a productive situational rusher off the edge, but his ability to play inside could also prove useful next season when the depth chart could have a very different look to it.
Franklin-Myers has a lot of potential and produced reasonably well with the Rams when he was used last season. However, having already placed him on injured reserve, it seems unlikely he’ll get an opportunity before next season.
Everything is in play from Franklin-Myers being released from injured reserve and not even returning to the team next season to entering the year as a candidate for a key role. That will largely depend on whether he’s had a chance to impress the coaching staff since he arrived. He might get activated for a few games in December, but we’ll have to wait to see what the team sees in him.