When it comes to the position groups for the Jets, it is not really a question about which is the strongest on the team. While the receivers have the potential and talent to become the best unit on the roster, guys like Garrett Wilson and Elijah Moore need to show that type of production over a longer period of time. The same could be said for the running backs and corners on the roster; there is a plethora of talent, but the players at those positions have not shown the production yet to be considered the best position group on the roster. The offensive line had the best case of all, as the unit had the potential to be on of the better ones in the league if Mekhi Becton returned to form, but alas.

And still, out of all the position groups on this Jets roster, the deepest and best unit is currently the defensive line. On the interior, Quinnen Williams heading into his fourth year and is considered a centerpiece of the entire defensive line. Sheldon Rankins, Solomon Thomas, Jonathan Marshall, and Nathan Shepard. Rankins has the potential to be a force in the run game and is underrated when it comes to his pass rushing ability. Thomas brings veteran wisdom and good ability as a rotational pass rusher in the defensive scheme on the interior or edge. Marshall has the potential to fill into the “run-stuffer” role on the defense, and Shepard can serve as a rotational player.

On the edge, they added Jermaine Johnson, Micheal Clemons, and Jacob Martin to a group that already included Bryce Huff, Vinny Curry, John-Franklin Myers, and Carl Lawson. Johnson, a first-round pick out of Florida State in this year’s NFL Draft, has great ability to set the edge as a run defender and has more than enough explosiveness to contribute as a pass rusher. Martin, a free agent signing who played with the Texans last year, is an asset as a skilled pass rush specialist with room to grow into more overall production. Clemons, who is also a rookie, should serve as another rotational piece off the edge for the team.

The defensive line has been playing up to its talent level, as multiple players have made their impact felt in camp. Williams is consistently causing havoc and getting multiple sacks and tackles for loss. Carl Lawson has started to look like himself, showcasing great bend off the edge and his usual pass rushing prowess. Huff, Johnson and Clemons have also showcased their pass rushing ability, while the interior guys like Marshall and Shepard have helped to slow down the run game while they’re on the field.

Regarding the defensive line, Robert Saleh and defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich both had positive things to say regarding key members of the unit. Speaking about Lawson, Saleh said he looks “stout” and “powerful” as a player. “Carl’s pretty darn good, obviously. Again, his issue is not going to be whether or not he’s ready, it’s just when, right? He’s approaching that. He’s just a pro. Like I said, he’s been ready to roll since OTAs, but we’ve been more holding him back than the other way around.”

On Bryce Huff, Saleh said, “He is a really, really good pass rusher. He knows how to win one-on-ones. When he was fully healthy a year ago, we were pretty darn good up front and he’s a good player. It’s his third year now so he’s even more comfortable, he’s stronger, he understands, he’s year two in the schemes. Excited about him, excited about the things that he brings to the table too.”

With the relative unknown, Jacob Martin, Ulbrich complemented his approach and mindset, “Again, to be redundant, he’s a pro’s pro. The way he operates, he is so calculated in the way approaches everything that he does. There is a specific thing he is working on every single play every single day. It is really cool to see that.

“What I’m starting to learn about him — obviously, you watch the tape and you see the strain and you see the effort, you see the explosion, the speed. What you didn’t know is the brain. What you didn’t know is the man who he is. So, I think he’s going to really give us the opportunity to open up the playbook a little bit and take advantage of his versatility.”

Ulbrich said that Vinny Curry brings the “infectious energy” and “edge” to the Jets defense. “He provides this unbelievable model of what a pro looks like from a day-to-day standpoint. The way he meets, walkthrough — he’s just an absolute pro. He does everything at a professional level. He is as detailed as it gets, and he’s the most consistent person I’ve seen from a personality standpoint. He has this juice and energy. You see guys who have peaks and valleys regarding that. He is the same guy every single day. He absolutely brings something that we need on this defense.”

With so many potential pieces making an early impact, it will be impossible to keep all of the current players on the defensive line. Despite this, Quinnen Williams said that the unit is “an amazing group of guys” that always “works their butts off” in practice. “The guys we do have in that room, we push each other very single day. We want to bring the best out of each other, even myself, bring the best out of me every single day…Like I said a long time ago, if each and every one of us are at 100 percent, can’t nobody stop us,” said Williams.

Rankins said that the amount of talent on the defensive line is “pretty crazy” and said that it is the one of the best units he has been apart of. “Obviously coming from New Orleans I played on a lot of talented groups. Top to bottom, I’d have to say man for man this is probably as talented of a room that I’ve been in. Everyone’s ability to win on three downs is special. I think we got a lot of guys who can really change games, can really wreck games, and you’re starting to see it everyday.”

Rankins also said that Quinnen Williams “looks great” up to this point in camp. “He’s as good as I’ve seen him play since he’s been in the league, obviously watching from afar and then being his teammate. It’s as good as he’s looked consistently…he’s doing everything he needs to do to be the caliber of player everyone in the league knows he is,” said Rankins.

For the Jets to take the next step forward in their rebuild, the defensive line’s production is extremely important. Quinnen Williams needs to live up to the his draft-slot expectations while players like Lawson, Johnson, and Rankins need to contribute heavily as well. If those players and the likes of Martin, Huff, Clemons, and Franklin-Myers, among others, contribute enough, then this unit will consistently help the Jets stay in and win games this season.

The unit’s first true test comes this Friday against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 1 of the NFL Pre-Season. While not the final barometer, it will be a good measuring stick for a unit that has been off to a good start in training camp. If they can impress Friday night, the Jets defensive line will be on their way to becoming the driving force behind the Jets this season.