Jets OTAs: 5 breakout stars to focus on during next offseason stage

Jets depth chart and OTAs
Nick Faria – AMNY

Organized Team Activities (OTAs) is a time of the year when fans of the New York Jets and the NFL as a whole have the ability to get their first chance to see which players took the offseason to heart to get better. 

In the case of the Jets, OTAs kicking off this week will be the first chance outside of a few team clips to see newly-acquired quarterback Aaron Rodgers continue to get comfortable with his new group of weapons. There may not be a more exciting time in team history than right now – even if we’re over four months away from the start of the NFL season. 

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a reason to get excited about the next phase of the offseason. In fact, with the scheduled practices set to take off in a matter of days, it’s the first chance for many to see which young player is on the cusp of breaking out into stardom. 

And with the case of Gang Green, there are plenty of potential breakout candidates expected.

Jermaine Johnson

Johnson was overlooked as the final first-round pick of the 2022 draft class that altered the Jets’ record book with both offensive and defensive rookie of the year winners. With just 2.5 sacks to his ledger, it’s easy to see how the former Florida St. standout was pushed aside for a more veteran presence. 

That cannot, nor shouldn’t happen in 2023. Johnson has a full year under his belt, and while he’ll have to share snaps with a rotating barrage of dynamic ends, he’s still a major breakout candidate going into his second season. 

Mekhi Becton

It’s now or never for the former first-round tackle. The Jets have been pleased all offseason with Becton’s commitment to get into game shape and remain focused on being a starter for the team. Now that he’s finally healthy, it’ll be up to the former Louisville product to show that he belongs as the team’s starting left tackle over Duane Brown. 

If he doesn’t over the next few months, it will severely impact his future playing career outside of just New York. 

Jets tackle Mekhi Becton speaks to the media at the NFL football team's practice facility.
Jets tackle Mekhi Becton speaks to the media at the NFL football team’s practice facility.AP Photo/Adam Hunger

Jamien Sherwood

Kwon Alexander’s supposed departure this offseason has left a major hole at the weakside linebacker position. The Jets could, in theory, go out and spend money on a free agent, or they can happily give the job to someone already being paid while showing they can handle the increased snaps. 

Sherwood is a fifth-round pick back in the 2021 Draft and hasn’t seen much playing time outside of special teams. It’s hard to make the jump from special teamer to every-down starter but if Gang Green is to repeat last year’s defensive prowess, Sherwood will need to step up in a big way. 

Jarrick Bernard-Converse

The safety position seems all but secured to Chuck Clark and Jordan Whitehead. That doesn’t mean though that there isn’t a spot for current sixth-round rookie Jarrick Bernard-Converse. LSU has a history of sending late-round defensive backs that can play any position, and play well for multiple years in the NFL. Bernard-Converse could be the latest player to fill that hole as well.

There aren’t a lot of positions open in the secondary for the Jets but Bernard-Converse could carve a nice role for him with a strong run at practices over the next few weeks. 

Zach Wilson

The focus at OTAs will be on Aaron Rodgers for obvious reasons over the next few weeks, but as the Jets continue to preach – that may not be a bad thing for former second-overall pick Zach Wilson. After two years of grinding himself to the nub as the franchise’s starting quarterback, Wilson now has a chance to start from the basics and get a crash course on how to play the position from one of the best signal-callers in NFL history. 

If Wilson can show that he’s improved during practices this week, with the limited reps backups usually get, it’ll go a long way from him when he inevitably takes back the job when Rodgers ends up retiring or leaving. 

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