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The New York Jets have two franchise players on their defense — one up front and one in the secondary.

Defensive tackle Quinnen Williams and cornerback Sauce Gardner landed amongst Bucky Brooks's "top 10 non-quarterback franchise building blocks."

Brooks, a former NFL defensive back turned media analyst, placed Gardner at No. 4 overall and slotted Williams seventh in the non-quarterback franchise player rankings.

"Given the five-year window that I am proposing, I decided to narrow my focus to players who are 26 and younger heading into the season," explained Brooks about why players like T.J. Watt (28) and Deebo Samuel (27) were not included.

Gang Green was the lone team to have more than one representative on the list. Outside of Gardner and Williams, no other AFC East players made the Top 10.

Dallas Cowboys' outside linebacker Micah Parsons earned the No. 1 spot.

From Bucky Brooks's "2023 NFL season: Ranking top 10 non-quarterback franchise building blocks":

4. Sauce Gardner

CB  — Age: 22

"The second-year pro quickly seized the crown last season as the premier lockdown corner in the league. Gardner's length, athleticism and cover skills stymie wideouts at the line of scrimmage while also shrinking the strike zone for quarterbacks attempting to chalk up completions on downfield throws in his area. ...."

7. Quinnen Williams

DT — Age: 25

"The monstrous defensive tackle has become one of the elite defenders in the game as the centerpiece of the Jets' defense and is due for a new contract before the season begins. Williams has collected 25 sacks since 2020, flashing heavy hands and elite first-step quickness. The 6-3 303-pounder is a rare athlete with an emerging set of skills as a destructive force at the line of scrimmage. ...."

Gardner and Williams both earned All-Pro status in 2022.

After the Jets drafted Gardner at No. 4 overall last spring, the Cincinnati product proceeded to quickly emerge as a CB1. The 6-foot-3 Gardner logged a NFL-high 20 passes defensed and limited opposing receivers to 5.3 yards per target.

Williams, the No. 3 overall selection in the 2019 NFL Draft, accounted for 12.0 sacks and 16 quarterback knockdowns last year. The interior lineman, who averaged 43 snaps per game, totaled 55 stops and was charged with only two missed tackles.

The 25-year old Williams has made at least 6.0 sacks each of past three seasons.


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