Grady Jarrett, the NFL’s most underappreciated defensive lineman for years, will relinquish the title this season to New York Jets defensive tackle John Franklin-Myers. Jarrett improved significantly in Year 2 following a shaky rookie season in a part-time capacity in 2015, and was roughly the same player in his third season. Jarrett transitioned from above-average disruptor to true star in Year 4.
The only problem was that the Falcons were two years removed from their Super Bowl participation when he emerged on the scene in 2018, with 53 pressures in only 463 pass-rushing opportunities. According to Football Outsiders’ DVOA, Atlanta had the third-worst defense in the league.
Why John Franklin-Myers of the New York Jets will dethrone Grady Jarrett as the NFL’s most underappreciated defensive lineman in 2021
Jarrett has quietly gone about his thing on a low-end team devoid of a household name but himself, often putting guards and centers on their butts en route to the quarterback. Franklin-Myers, like Jarrett, has remained mostly unknown, although for a different reason at the start of his career. Franklin-Myers was a fourth-round choice by the Rams in 2018, and as a rookie, he stuck his hand in the rubber-pellet-filled turf next to pass-rushing deity Aaron Donald.
Franklin-Myers registered 28 pressures that year, with an 11.5 percent pressure-creation rate (242 pass-rushing snaps). In the Super Bowl, he had a strip sack of Tom Brady. Franklin-Myers was cut by the Rams before the start of the 2019 season for reasons unknown to me. The Jets were as quick to pick him up as Stanley from “The Office” was to get out of his seat on Pretzel Day. However, an ankle injury forced him to miss the full year. That’s Franklin-Myers. Stanley is not one of them. Franklin-Myers was unstoppable last season. That isn’t an exaggeration. When compared to a couple of proven talents on the inside, look at how effective he was in pursuing the opposing quarterback:
Franklin-Myers had the fewest pass-rushing snaps (353) of everyone in the table above, so sample size has to be taken into account. But, aside from Donald, he made better use of his opportunity than any of the other rushers. Remarkable. And the high output was not an accident. Have faith in me. Viewing Franklin-Myers’ film is like to watching “300.” Nonstop mayhem. At a remarkable 6-foot-4 and 288 pounds, he wins in a variety of ways in numerous pre-snap alignments. His burst is exceptional, his hands are aggressive and hefty, and his hair is never not on fire through the whistle during a play.
Franklin-Myers’ outstanding season was almost completely unrecognized, much like Jarrett’s, because he was on an atrocious Jets team. Franklin-Myers will pin his ears back next to a highly heralded former first-round pick (Quinnen Williams) who will undoubtedly draw the majority of the attention from fans and the media, just like he did in his first NFL season. Yes, Williams was excellent last season as well. However, his pressure-creation percentage was only 10.3% on almost the same number of pass-rushing opportunities as Franklin-Myers. I’ll wrap it up with this. The fact that Franklin-Myers is about to break out is fantastic news for his money account. The Falcons slapped the franchise tag on Jarrett after his monster fourth season, then signed him to a four-year, $68 million contract with $38 million fully guaranteed. Franklin-Myers will have a similar year in Year 4, which also happens to be the final year of his rookie contract. Cha-ching.
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