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Scouting Jets defensive lineman Jalyn Holmes

Taking a look at a Jets defensive lineman

Houston Texans v New York Jets Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images

The New York Jets recently signed defensive lineman Jalyn Holmes to their practice squad and he made his debut with the team last Sunday, so today we’re going to break him down in detail.

The 27-year old Holmes is listed at 6’5” and 283 pounds. He was a fourth round pick out of Ohio State in 2018. Holmes has played in 35 NFL games, starting 10. He has registered 61 tackles, six tackles for loss, five quarterback hits, three passes defensed and a sack in his NFL career.

Background

Holmes was a four-star high school recruit and opted to enroll at Ohio State. For his first three seasons with the Buckeyes, he was in a rotational role off the bench behind some legitimate NFL talents. He did start nine games in his final season, though.

During his college career, Holmes was twice named as an all-Big Ten honorable mention and racked up 85 tackles, 15 tackles for loss and five sacks.

After attending the NFL combine and Senior Bowl, Holmes solidified himself as a mid-round pick and was eventually selected in the fourth round of the 2018 draft by the Minnesota Vikings.

During his first two seasons, Holmes was once again in a rotational role, playing 11 games and recording seven tackles, a sack and a tackle for loss. He got an opportunity for more playing time in 2020 and started in nine of 14 appearances, racking up career-highs with 36 tackles, four quarterback hits and two passes defensed.

In 2021 Holmes was released in final cuts by the Vikings. He ended up on the New Orleans Saints practice squad. After being moved to the active roster in October, he played in eight games with one start. Holmes had 14 tackles, two tackles for loss and a pass breakup.

In 2022, Holmes spent time with the New York Giants and Chicago Bears, playing in just one game. He was then signed by the Jets this August and played in one preseason game before getting hurt. They brought him back again recently and he got his chance to be elevated for the first time in the win over the Houston Texans following injuries to Perrion Winfrey and Tanzel Smart.

Let’s take a look at what Holmes brings to the table, divided into categories.

Measurables/Athleticism

Holmes was listed at 270 pounds in college, but he bulked up to 283 for the NFL combine, where he ran a 4.82 in the 40-yard dash and posted a 32-inch vertical. He completed the rest of his workout at his pro day with his numbers across the board solid but unspectacular.

Holmes posted 25 bench press reps at his pro day and is considered strong, but he lacks elite athleticism and flexibility. He has good length and a nice wingspan though.

Usage

Given his size and athletic profile, Holmes is considered a bit of a tweener despite playing on the edge at Ohio State. At the NFL level, he bounced back and forth between the edge and interior. With the Jets, for example, he played as an edge in preseason but as a defensive tackle in the Houston game.

The Vikings started Holmes off as a defensive end in his rookie year, but they gave him occasional reps inside, then converted him to defensive tackle in his second season. Holmes then became a starter on the edge again in his third season and also played on the edge with the Saints.

With the Giants, he was mostly used as a 3-4 end. He then went back inside during his time with the Bears.

Motor

Holmes is an active player who gives a lot of effort in the trenches, and that’s probably one of the main traits that attracted the Jets to him.

He’s shown that he’s capable of handling a starter’s workload by playing over 600 snaps in 2020, including over 60 in a game twice.

Pass rush

Holmes has never really been a player who racks up huge sack numbers or pressure rates. He shows flashes of being a real handful in the trenches. With his lack of burst off the edge, Holmes seems better suited to an inside disruptor role. He only has one regular season sack but has had a few in preseason, including two in his lone preseason appearance with the Jets.

Here’s a play where he works upfield but stays disciplined rather than allowing an escape hatch, then cleans up for the sack.

With his experience both outside and inside, Holmes can be an effective option on stunts as he shows on this play.

He has developed a spin move which he employs effectively from time to time and that can be a useful asset for him in the pass rush.

Run defense

Holmes’ main challenge in the running game is holding his own in the trenches when he lines up on the inside. He was controlled a few times in his first game with the Jets.

While listed at 283, that was his combine weight, so it’s likely he is heavier than that now and he certainly looks it. However, he’ll need to keep his weight and strength up to play inside on running downs.

Although Holmes is limited in pursuit and when forced to change direction, he shows an ability to crash downhill or shoot a gap.

Footwork/Technique

As noted earlier, Holmes displays good balance and quickness on his spin move, but here he also shows an ability to transition from one move to another to create clean pressure.

Here’s an impressive rep against a top interior lineman in Quenton Nelson, where Holmes showcases an ability to use his hands well.

In the running game, Holmes uses leverage and his body position well on this play as he gets downhill to help bottle up the run.

Special teams

Holmes has rushed punts and kicks during his career but hasn’t generated any production. Other than that, he’s just played a few snaps as a blocker on the kick return unit.

Tackling

Holmes hasn’t been a particularly productive tackler, but his tackle efficiency is generally solid. In 2020 and 2021 he played over 800 snaps and had 50 tackles, but he missed seven tackles.

He doesn’t have a forced fumble at the NFL level but did have two at Ohio State.

Coverage

Holmes has rarely ever dropped into coverage, but he does have a knack for getting his hands up to deflect passes. On this play, his deflection led to a pick-six for his teammate.

Instincts/Intelligence

Holmes has been versatile enough to play multiple roles, and his play recognition is typically good. On this play he gets up field well and is able to force the runner wide rather than allowing himself to be sealed inside.

Attitude/Demeanor

Holmes became a leader at Ohio State. He was voted as a team captain in his final season back in 2017.

Holmes had a tough upbringing and has been open about the fact that he grew up with anxiety and depression issues. Since getting to the NFL, he’s become involved with spreading awareness of mental health issues.

Injuries

Holmes played in every game during his time with the Buckeyes, although he was knocked out of one early on. At the NFL level, he’s stayed mostly injury free, missing two games with a groin injury in 2020 and dealing with a concussion in preseason in 2022 and a broken hand in OTAs during his rookie year. He also missed a game in 2021 due to Covid-19.

Scheme Fit

As noted, the Jets have used Holmes both outside and inside, so they may still be figuring out what his best role is within their system. He seems better equipped to play a conventional interior role than Micheal Clemons, unless Clemons adds even more strength and weight.

Holmes initially started off with teams who play 4-3, but part of the reason he joined the Giants was because he felt like he’d be a fit with a 3-4 team. However, his last two teams were 4-3 teams again.

Holmes has now been a teammate of current Jet Trevor Siemian on four of his five NFL teams. Otherwise, he also played with Dalvin Cook, Tyler Conklin, Ifeadi Odenigbo, Chazz Surratt and Tae Hayes while in Minnesota.

Conclusions

Holmes played 13 snaps in the last game, and he may be active again for the next few games unless the team opts to give Bruce Hector or Marquiss Spencer a shot. His role could even increase if there are any more injuries.

Providing Holmes does a decent enough job, there’s a good chance that he’ll be signed to a futures deal at the end of the season or even added to the active roster before the regular season is over.