Jets Chaos: Did Michael Clemons Earn a Rotation Spot After First Pre-Season Action With 7 Pressures?

August 16, 2022

In the 4th round of the 2022 NFL draft, the Jets selected Michael Clemons, a player most NFL fans knew nothing about. He would soon hit legendary status with his new fanbase in NY/NJ as he took the podium in his first press conference. But will he make the Jets starting rotation?

Draft Weekend

It was the final day of the draft and the NY Jets were getting ready to make their final selection. This of course was assuming there would be no trades in the final hours of the draft. The Jets had already excited the fanbase by selecting dynamic players and making trades that would lead to 3 first-round picks, 

The excitement from the first night of the draft continued the following evening when the Jets traded up a few spots in the second round. They used that pick to grab the highest-rated running back in the country, Breece Hall. Adding on Jeremy Ruckert later in the evening maintained the excitement and ended the second evening with a pumped-up Jets fanbase. 

Who is this guy?

The third and final day of the draft does not generate the audience or excitement of the previous two nights. While there are some die-hard fans that still have a wishlist of players remaining on the board, the casual fans usually move on with their lives and find out about the later-round picks in the preseason. But Jets fans were in for something different this year. 

After selecting Max Mitchell as a potential future starting tackle, or possibly a future swing tackle, the Jets only had one fourth-round pick remaining in their draft. I ran a bunch of mock drafts on my YouTube channel and became very familiar with most of the players forecasted to be selected in the first four rounds. So when the Jets announced the selection of defensive end Michael Clemons, I joined the majority of Jets fans in wondering who we just added to the team. 

Introducing Michael Clemons

Michael Clemons began his career at Cisco College, After one season he transferred to Texas A & M where he had some success in his first couple of years. But it wasn’t until he finally played his senior year – after redshirting the pandemic year in 2020 – that he finally had some noticeable production. Michael had 11 tackles for losses and 7 sacks. As it turns out, his tape was even more impressive than his numbers. 

At the time of the pick, it was a bit of a surprise. The Jets had already selected a defensive end when they added Jermaine Johnson with the 26th pick of the first round. There were also a number of safeties and linebackers who could potentially fill a bigger need. We had no idea this man was about to become a legend in the minds of Jets fans. 

Michael Clemons is Different

It began with a press conference. One of the theories explaining why Michael Clemons became a fourth-round pick that few people ever heard of was an incident with a gun. Apparently, Clemons was on his campus with a gun, which is illegal. It is acceptable for a man in Texas to carry a gun, but there are certain places where carrying that gun is prohibited. He made a costly mistake. 

As Jets fans watched more of his film, it became easier to understand why Joe Douglas selected him with his last pick in the 2022 draft. The man could play. He had a long road coming from a freshman season at a junior college, but Clemons worked hard and climbed the ladder to the NFL. Now it was time to get to know the man. 

Every player selected by an NFL team in the draft is going to have their turn to talk to the media at a press conference. But there was something different when Clemons stood up at the podium. He had a natural look of intimidation that had the beat writers stuttering as they poked and prodded him for juicy bits of information they could write about. Clemons had an intensity that was impossible to ignore. The fans ate it up.

Jets Ask carefully and do not make me mad! Courtesy of USA Today
Ask carefully and do not make me mad! Courtesy of USA Today

But Can He Play Football?

After about two weeks of jokes on Twitter that basically replaced Chuck Norris with Michael Clemons, his legend grew. I am not going to claim I was above contributing to the fun banter myself. 

But all kidding aside, nothing was going to matter if Michael Clemons was not competitive at the NFL level.  Plenty of fourth-round selections never see the field in what turns out to be disappointing and short-lived careers. Will Michael Clemons live up to his newfound fame? Will he make it onto the field for the Jets this year? Will he win a spot in the 8-man rotation they like to use on the defensive line? Watching him in his first pre-season game provided a small clue as we begin to answer these questions. 

Michael Clemons played like a beast. He created multiple pressures and was plowing through offensive lineman like they were not even there. At one point, even Jet fans were worried for the safety of Eagles backup quarterback Gardner Minshew II. It may have been against backup players, but Michael Clemons showed up Friday night and did not disappoint his fans. 

Will Michael Clemons Start?

Will Michael Clemons start for the NY Jets in week 1? Probably not the right question. The Jets use an 8-man rotation on the defensive line. The real question is whether or not he will crack the top 8 and get a high volume of reps to start his career. I think it is too early to tell, but Friday’s effort has made it much more of a possibility. 

There are still about 4 weeks of training camp left. The Jets are deep on the defensive line and the men competing for playing time have much more experience than Clemons. It is safe to say that Clemons will make the 53-man roster. And while he may not start the season in the top 8, do not be surprised to see him work his way into the rotation before the end of the season. Everyone better get their Chuck Norris jokes ready.