The folks at Pro Football Focus have ranked every roster in the NFL, using a color-coded system to grade each starter. The stats-based website isn't high on the New York Jets, placing them at No. 23 in the rankings.
Wow, tough crowd over there at PFF. The Jets' encouraging finish last season, coupled with a few high-profile acquisitions in the offseason, apparently had little impact on its overall evaluation, which says:
"The Jets will be helped immeasurably if Geno Smith starts 2014 the way he finished his rookie season. A raw college prospect, Smith was never really supposed to see the field as a rookie, and the -27.4 PFF grade he amassed by Week 13 reflects that. Over the final month of the season, however, he posted a +7.2 grade, which would have ranked him among the league's better passers if he had performed at that level all four months instead of one.
"Adding Eric Decker should be a major boost to an anemic receiving corps, although Chris Johnson seems unlikely to be a consistent upgrade at running back. The Jets' defensive line is formidable, especially against the run, but there is still a lack of edge rush and the team needs to generate pressure in creative ways. Dee Milliner, like Smith at quarterback, ended the year far better than he began it, and all signs suggest he could be much improved in 2014."
PFF ranks the players into eight different categories, with "elite" being the best of the best. No players from the Jets are listed in that category, and rightly so. I think they have a handful of very good players, but no one is elite at his position. Here's the full breakdown, per PFF:
High Quality: Damon Harrison, Sheldon Richardson, Muhammad Wilkerson. My take: I think you need to be a three-down player to belong in this category, and Harrison is a two-down, run-stuffing nose tackle.
Good starter: Eric Decker, D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Jeremy Kerley, Nick Mangold, Dimitri Patterson. My take: Patterson? The man has missed 33 of his last 48 games. This is too high for him. I'm OK with the others, although Mangold is worthy of a bump up.
Average starter: Willie Colon, David Harris, Breno Giacomini, Chris Ivory, Dee Milliner, Kyle Wilson, Dawan Landry. My take: Harris is better than average. Milliner needs to be better than average for the Jets to have any chance.
Below average starter: Quinton Coples, Jeff Cumberland, Chris Johnson, Geno Smith, Demario Davis and Calvin Pace. My take: I disagree with Johnson. If he's healthy, he's a lot better than below average. Obviously, PFF believes Pace's 10-sack season was a fluke. Smith is the key, of course. If he can jump two categories, the Jets will be a playoff team.