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Which Jets Rookies Are Ready to Make an Impact

With the arrival of Aaron Rodgers, expectations for the New York Jets are as high as they’ve been in a long time. Without question, a lot of Jets fans are putting their money where their mouth is and betting on the Jets to have a good season and reach the playoffs. With NY sports betting being legal in retail settings since 2019 and mobile apps since 2022, there is no shortage of opportunities for fans in the Empire State to bet on the Jets.

However, the Jets can’t just leave it up to Rodgers to carry them. The entire roster will have to contribute, including New York’s rookie class. The Jets got some huge contributions from their rookies in 2022 and will hope for the same in 2023. Let’s look at the rookies who are hoping to make an immediate impact and help the Jets get to the playoffs this season.

Xavier Gipson

Despite going undrafted, Gipson made the final cut of the Jets roster. He’s not going to be a starter right away but has the potential to make a surprise impact. Gipson played his college ball at Stephen F. Austin, which is why he was overlooked and went undrafted. However, he was the WAC Offensive Player of the Year in both 2021 and 2022, so he dominated at the lower levels. While Gipson is a little undersized, he ran a 4.42 in the 40-yard dash at his pro day, giving him the type of speed to be a difference-maker. Also, in addition to being a reserve wide receiver who could work his way into the rotation, Gipson is also the backup to Mecole Hardman on kick and punt returns. That could allow him opportunities to get on the field and make an impact for the Jets.

Will McDonald IV

Even though he was the team’s first-round pick, McDonald is a little bit buried on the depth chart heading into the start of the season. But even if he’s not in the starting lineup right away doesn’t mean he can’t work his way into the rotation at defensive end and become an influential part of the New York defense. Keep in mind that McDonald was a First-Team All-Big-12 performer three times at Iowa State, so it’s not as if he’s an unpolished player who needs work; he should be ready to compete in the trenches in the NFL. McDonald showed flashes of his pass-rushing ability during the preseason, which should inspire the Jets to put him on the field during obvious passing situations and give him a chance to play to his strengths, even if he’s not an every-down player as a rookie.

Zaire Barnes

Not every player the Jets drafted ended up on their 53-man roster, but there was rarely a doubt that Barnes would make the cut. Coming out of Western Michigan, Barnes was easy to overlook, which is why the Jets were able to grab him in the sixth round. But even if he’s a tad undersized, Barnes made it clear during the preseason that he has the athleticism to play linebacker in the NFL. He plays particularly well in pass coverage, so the Jets may try to use Barnes situationally early in his career. Barnes also has experience playing on special teams, which is where he’ll be used most often right away. However, he made a good impression during the preseason and might have a chance to push Jamien Sherwood for a starting linebacker spot.

Joe Tippmann

When the Jets drafted Tippmann in the second round, they probably hoped that he would be able to push Connor McGovern for the starting center job. It appears that McGovern has managed to keep his job heading into Week 1, although that doesn’t preclude Tippmann from making an impact at some point in 2023. The problem is the Jets are likely to use a zone-blocking scheme that’s different from what Tippmann ran during his time at Wisconsin. That could explain why the Jets feel he needs a little more time and wasn’t able to steal the starting job from McGovern during the preseason. However, the Jets should still have high hopes for Tippmann and will still be expecting him to contribute as a rookie. He has excellent size for a center and comes from a college program that has a strong track record for producing offensive linemen. Even if it doesn’t happen in Week 1, Tippmann should make his presence felt on the Jets’ offensive line at some point.

Jason Brownlee

The Jets are hoping to catch lightning in a bottle from Brownlee, who is another wide receiver who went undrafted butmade the team’s 53-man roster to open the season. He played three seasons at Southern Miss and was the team’s most important wide receiver all three years. Compared to Gipson, he doesn’t have the same type of speed, although Brownlee brings more size to the table at 6’2’’, which could make him an important possession receiver for the Jets. Keep in mind that the Jets will be relying on some older receivers like Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb this season. If those players get hurt or need their reps to be managed, Brownlee could turn into a key part of New York’s passing attack in 2023.

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