Jets position group grades heading into the NFL Draft: Secondary
With the 2021 NFL Draft approaching on April 29 and NFL free agency slowing down, here’s an overview on where each position group stands.
Safeties: J.T. Hassell, Saquan Hampton, Elijah Campbell, Bennett Jackson, Ashtyn Davis, Marcus Maye, Lamarcus Joyner
The best way to describe Maye is, he’s a dog. Maye had 88 tackles, 11 pass deflections, four TFLs, two forced fumbles, and two interceptions last season. Pro Football Focus rated him as the fifth best safety with a grade of 82.9.
He signed the franchise tag for $10.612 million in March after a productive 2020 season.
Maye was excellent in coverage last year and PFF gave him a grade of 85.8, which was fourth out of all safeties.
He was targeted 36 times and allowed 22 receptions for 229 yards. He allowed a quarterback passer rating of 93, which ranked 24th out of 64 qualifying safeties that played 50% of their teams’ coverage snap.
Maye’s versatility is invaluable, here’s a list showing the amount of snaps he played in various spots.
Defensive Line: 85
Box safety: 280
Slot cornerback: 167
Wide cornerback: 4
Free Safety: 581
Maye should help revive the Jets defense that allowed 28 points per game last year.
The Jets signed Joyner after disappointing years with the Las Vegas Raiders.
Joyner had 66 tackles including six TFLs but didn’t register an interception for the Raiders in 2020. He played the majority of his snaps at slot corner with 572 and struggled. PFF rated Joyner as 89th out of 121 qualified cornerbacks. When targeted he allowed a completion percentage of 70.5 and 464 yards.
Joyner will look to recapture his 2017 form where he played 510 of his snaps at free safety for the Los Angeles Rams, when he had three interceptions and his grade was a 91.0. But that was a few seasons ago and now he’s 30 years old.
The former star track had a rough rookie year. The third round pick was rated 80th of 94th with a grade of 53 by PFF. In 10 games, he had 36 tackles.
Davis is a phenomenal athlete but he must improve after an invisible rookie season.
Cornerbacks: Bless Austin, Corey Ballentine, Kyron Brown, Javelin Guidry, Bryce Hall, Justin Hardee, Lamar Jackson, Zane Lewis
Hall flashed his potential in his rookie season but still had his struggles. According to PFF, when throwing in Hall’s direction, quarterbacks completed 75% of throws, had a passer rating of 103.6 and averaged two touchdowns.
Hall’s best game was against the Rams when he gave up two catches for 13 yards and snatched an interception.
PFF rated Hall 67th of 121th qualifying cornerback with a grade of 59.9.
The Jets should expect a jump from Hall in year two in a new defensive scheme along with a strong pass rush that should make the secondary’s job easier.
In Austin’s second year, he led cornerbacks in total snaps with 701, but struggled. When targeted, quarterbacks completed 69% of their passes, had a passer rating of 103 and he allowed three touchdowns.
PFF rated him 97th out 121th with a grade of 51.1.
Jackson struggled throughout his rookie year. When targeted, quarterbacks had a passer rating of 140, threw five touchdowns and completed 66% of their passes. PFF rated him 100 out of 121 with a grade of 50.4.
Guidry played in 11 games with two starts. He primarily played in the slot and in limited coverage snaps (107) Guidry showed promise. PFF gave him a coverage grade of 76.5 and he allowed 12 receptions for 111 yards. The Jets may have found a solid slot corner.
The Jets cornerback spot needs an infusion of talent badly, here are four options.
Greg Newsome, Northwestern
The 6-1,190-pound corner — who was first-team All-Big 10 as a junior last season — has great feet and is able to break out of his backpedal with swiftness. His ball skills are good even though he only recorded one interception in his career. He showcased great speed by running an unofficial 4.38 at his pro day. Newsome would be an excellent fit for Robert Saleh’s defensive scheme.
Kelvin Joseph, Kentucky
Joseph is oozing with potential. He’s a physical corner with legit ball skills. He’s a good athlete with good movement skills with his hips. He is good in press coverage because of physical jam which disrupts receivers and throws off the timing for quarterbacks. The 5-11, 192-pound corner is a speedster and ran a 4.34 at his pro day.
Asante Samuel Jr., Florida State
Samuel Jr. is strong in man coverage because of his technique that includes instincts, smooth hips, and good feet. He is an athletic cornerback with some dog in him and has outstanding ball skills.
Samuel Jr. has a high football IQ and can quickly diagnose and react. He has a good back pedal and explodes out of his breaks. When the ball is in the air he can locate it. The 5-10, 185-pounder grabbed three interceptions last season and was First-Team All-ACC in 2020.
Caleb Farley, Virginia Tech
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Farley opted out in 2020 due to COVID-19 concerns.
Farley has ideal size at 6-1, 207 pounds and possesses exceptional instincts matched with good ball skills with four interceptions in 2019. He’s good in zone coverage which would fit in a Saleh defense. He’s also good in press-man and has outstanding speed. His injury history has affected his draft stock so he may be there at the No. 23 pick and would be a fantastic selection.
2. Running Backs
3. Wide Receivers
4. Tight Ends
5. Offensive Line
6. Defensive Line