The New York Jets have a ton of talent on their roster for the 2014 season. Bringing in talented players through free agency and the draft, the Jets will be fielding a team that is considered significantly better than a year ago. In ranking Gang Green's top five players of 2014, we will take a look at each player's career accomplishments, as well as their recent success.
Newly acquired players Michael Vick and Chris Johnson have had a great career but have not recently contributed to their former teams in the last couple of seasons. Therefore, they are honorable mentions for this short list.
5. Eric Decker, WRDecker signed on with the Jets in the offseason, coming over from Denver. The former Bronco played at the University of Minnesota prior to be drafting in 2010. Decker is coming off of back-to-back 1,000 plus yard seasons. He has also recorded consecutive ten-plus touchdowns in the last two years. Even though some would chalk that up to being a product of a Peyton Manning driven offense, Decker has shown in his four seasons that he can continue to elevate his level of play each year. Still in his prime at 27-years-old, Decker can continue his impact on the offensive side of the ball with a rejuvenated Jets offense in 2014.
4. Sheldon Richardson, DE
Richardson blew up last season, ultimately earning the title of 2013 Defensive Rookie of the Year. The second year defensive end had a stellar collegiate career at Missouri prior to being drafted in the first round of the 2013 draft by New York. Richardson finished last season with a stat line of 42 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 1 pass defended, and two offensive touchdowns. Even though his stats do not pop off the page, he was a tremendous factor in helping teammates Calvin Pace and Muhammad Wilkerson reach double digit sacks last season. Drawing double teams and forcing the play to go the opposite side of him, Richardson had more of an impact than his stat line will show. Heading into his second season, the NFL's No. 94 ranked best player of 2014 will look to continue to make an impact this year.
3. D'Brickashaw Ferguson, LT
The Long Island native has been one of the game's most consistent and dominant left tackles in recent memory. Following Week 14 of the 2013 season, Brick set a team record of starting in 125 consecutive games to start off his career. Appearing in all of his 128 games, Ferguson has proved to be a reliable cornerstone to Gang Green's success. Drafted in the first round of 2006, Ferguson has not let down the Jets over his tenured career. The three-time Pro-Bowler will look to continue his streak through next season and to remain a dominant force on the Jets offensive line.
2. Nick Mangold, C
Mangold was also drafted in the first round of the 2006 NFL Draft, joining D'Brickashaw Ferguson. Named to five Pro-Bowls and three All-Pro selections, Mangold is one of the best Centers in the NFL today. He has only missed two games in his eight seasons, coming in 2011 when he suffered a high ankle sprain. Appearing in 126 games, Mangold has proven himself to be a reliable anchor on this offensive line. Having been through all the highs and lows of the New York Jets in recent years, Mangold has remained to be a leader within the locker and on the field. His leadership and abilities have placed him second on my list of top New York Jets, but his slow decline of play has dropped him from being number one.
1. Muhammad Wilkerson, DE
The New Jersey native has been overlooked in his few seasons in the NFL. Coming off his first double-digit sack total, and being a Pro-Bowl snub, Wilkerson is looking to increase his stats in 2014. In his three seasons, Mo has played in all 48 games and has combined for 181 tackles. Also, increasing his totals each season, Wilkerson has recorded 18.5 sacks. Wilkerson and Calvin Pace combined together to have the first double-digit sack duo since Joe Klecko and Mark Gastineau did it in back-to-back seasons in 1980-1981. Wilkerson's athleticism has allowed him to make great plays while with the Green and White, forcing six fumbles and intercepting a pass in his three seasons. Named to the All-Pro team in 2013, Wilkerson has flown under the radar since coming into the NFL. However, his dominant performance of 2013 should create more buzz around the fourth year player out of Temple, especially if he continues to elevate his play in 2014.