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Four Jets That Will Have Breakout Seasons in 2021

The regular season is months away, but it's never too early to look ahead at which players will shine in a new year.

Here are four returning members of the Jets poised to put together breakout campaigns in 2021:

Denzel Mims

When the Jets drafted Mims in the second round of the 2020 draft, they had high expectations. 

The Baylor product certainly showed some flashes of his potential last season, but at times he struggled to get involved in games. He also missed seven weeks due to hamstring problems and a concussion, which made it especially difficult to find his rhythm. 

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the talent at wide receiver around Mims last season was virtually nonexistent. The Jets had one of the worst receiving corps in the league. 

It'll be different this year. New York added Corey Davis in free agency, and drafted intriguing prospect Elijah Moore in the second round last month. Mims will undoubtedly have far more opportunities to get open, with attention from opposing secondaries directed at other pass-catchers. 

Even with inconsistent quarterback play as a rookie, the Texas native averaged 15.5 yards per catch, showing off his big-play ability. This fall, Zach Wilson will be under center, and his arm strength will be massive for Mims’ development. Look for the 23-year old to have some long touchdown grabs next season. 

C.J.  Mosley

Many may ask whether Mosley belongs in the “breakout” player category. After all, he is a proven commodity in the NFL, producing six strong seasons at middle linebacker in Baltimore prior to signing with the Jets. However, since he signed with New York in 2019, Mosley has barely been in a green and white uniform. 

After a groin injury forced the Alabama standout to miss 14 of 16 games, Mosley opted out of the 2020 season because of COVID-related health concerns. Gang Green will look for Mosley to live up to his big contract in 2021, and he will likely do just that. 

Mosley is certain to benefit from the arrival of head coach Robert Saleh, who is not only a defensive coach, but relies on strong linebacker play. Saleh has already made his admiration for Mosley known. 

"He’s been a fantastic player his entire life and that’s not going to change just because a new coaching staff has come in,” Saleh said in a press conference this offseason. "He’s a tremendous leader. He’s a tremendous football player. He hasn’t played in a couple of years, so you know he’s just chomping at the bit to get back onto the football field.” 

Mosley will look to anchor a revamped New York defense in 2021, and considering his track record, he is more than up to the task. 

Mekhi Becton

It’s not as if Becton struggled during his rookie season. Drafted 11th overall by the Jets in 2020, the 6-foot-7, 363-pound tackle was by many accounts the best performer on the offensive line. 

He allowed just seven sacks in 14 games, tied for fifth at his position in 2020. 

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The key with the Louisville product is that he has a tremendously high ceiling. With his size and strength coupled with excellent athleticism, Becton could quickly become one of the best tackles in the league. Some are taking it a step further. 

Duke Manyweather, an offensive-line coach who has worked with numerous talented lineman, had some high praise for Becton in an interview on the Matt Lombardo Show. 

"I remember coming in, the big knock from everybody ‘oh, he can’t pass protect, he’s too big and Louisville never had him do it.' But then he gets to the NFL and he’s locking people up, his first six weeks, you look at the rushers he had to face … And their production is non-existent,“ said Manyweather. “If he stays healthy, he could potentially be one of the best tackles to ever play the game." 

This is certainly a lot for Becton to live up to, but he will be playing a big role for Gang Green this season. As the starting left tackle, he will protect the blind side of a rookie quarterback with high expectations in Zach Wilson. In this paramount position, the Virginia native will build on a strong rookie season and cement himself as a legitimate franchise tackle. 

Chris Herndon

The last two years were both supposed to be the breakout season for Herndon. However, it just hasn’t happened yet. 

After a strong second half of his 2018 rookie campaign, the Miami product was expected to become a top pass-catcher for Gang Green. Yet Herndon appeared in just one game in 2019, missing the first four games due to suspension before a fractured rib put him on injured reserve. 

Last season, with expectations high yet again, the fourth-round pick played 16 games but made little impact, only catching four-plus passes in a game three times and dropping numerous passes. Herndon showed some signs of life in the second half of the season. Gaining more targets, he dramatically reduced his number of drops and caught three touchdowns. 

This is likely Herndon’s last chance to prove he is a starting-caliber tight end, and the new offensive scheme being introduced by Kyle Shanahan disciple Mike Lafleur gives him the best chance to do so. 

Tight ends are a major part of Shanahan’s system, exemplified by the emergence of All-Pro George Kittle with the San Francisco 49ers. Many forget Kittle was a fifth-round pick in 2017. 

If Kittle is any indication of what this offense does for the development of tight ends, Herndon is poised for a good year. With more offensive weapons on the Jets roster, there will be less pressure on Herndon to produce right away, who is still just 25.

Herndon may not be a fan favorite right now, but the Georgia native very well might change the narrative during this campaign. 

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