The NY Jets expect big things from their 2021 NFL Draft Class, both in the near and distant future. But while the focus is undoubtedly on Zach Wilson, Alijah Vera-Tucker, and Elijah Moore, it’s important not to overlook other members of their rookie class.
The Jets could have as many as six or seven rookie rookies in Week 1, and two of them could be in the same position – linebacker.
Gang Green took an interesting approach to linebacking this offseason by signing former Jarrad Davis free agency draft before drafting two college safeties, Jamien Sherwood and Hamsah Nasirildeen, intending to move them to linebacker.
Davis was expected to start alongside CJ Mosley’s return to the nickel with Nasirildeen and Sherwood competing for playing time as a third linebacker.
But with Davis now out for at least the first six weeks of the season, the Jets rookie linebackers have a golden opportunity to shine.
Nasirildeen got the majority of first-team reps at WILL this summer and appears to be the favorite to start at the post early in the regular season.
Meanwhile, Sherwood impressed in the first game of the preseason and was the player called in to replace Davis when he was injured last Saturday.
Head coach Robert Saleh confirmed on Monday that Sherwood will take Davis’ place in the starting lineup by setting up a scenario in which he and Nasirildeen are the Week 1 starters in defense.
It is important to remember that we are talking about two picks from Day 3 that are learning completely new positions this summer. Still, after just a few months to adjust to their new job, the Jets put them in starting roles.
It is quite the vote of confidence.
Nasirildeen appears to face some competition for WILL’s starting position in the form of former Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Noah Dawkins.
Dawkins started at WILL on Saturday, but Nasirildeen worked almost exclusively with the starters during practice.
Davis’ injury is another blow to a Jets defense that has struggled with numerous injuries this summer. But with an injury comes an opportunity.
And Jamien Sherwood and Hamsah Nasirildeen are about to have the opportunity of a lifetime.