The most likely place for the Jets to find their other starting corner for 2014 is the NFL Draft. This isn’t the strongest cornerback class but there are some good prospects that can be good from the start and stars down the road. The players who have or will visit the Jets are Darqueze Dennard, Kyle Fuller, Jason Verrett, Justin Gilbert and Bradley Roby. Those are far from the only choices as you can read about the prospects and their metrics in articles written by Greg Peshek of Rotoworld.com, you can read those articles here and here.
Dennard, who played at Michigan State, is a Rex Ryan kind of corner. He excels at press man coverage and loves to play physical, man to man defense. Dennard is a very smart defender, that knows all the tricks of the trade and while he may never be the best corner in the league, he reminds me a bit of Revis in his skill set. If he is on the board at 18 I don’t think the Jets would hesitate on pulling the trigger to draft Dennard.
Kyle Fuller of Virginia Tech had some of the lowest completion percentages among the cornerbacks, with a burn rate 2nd only to Dennard. His experience at Virginia Tech was almost entirely lining up 6-10 yards off of receivers and having the play unfold in front of him which is something he would have to transition from if he were drafted by the Jets. Still, Fuller is a good corner, who has good hands and a nose for the football.
The next corner to look at is Jason Verrett of TCU. One of the best ballhawks in the group, he broke up 1 out of every 2.75 passes thrown his way which is ranked 1st among this year’s class of corners. Verrett does have some experience with press coverage having pressed or pressed and bailed 25% of the time, however he is most often lined up from 1-5 yards off of the line of scrimmage where he has been 51% of the time. He is more likely to try and jump the route than come up and jam the receiver at this point in his career. However, the ball skills are something that the Jets were lacking in 2013 and would be a welcome addition.
Justin Gilbert of Oklahoma State is another interesting corner for the Jets to evaluate. Gilbert’s metrics aren’t favorable as he is beaten a large percentage of the time on the intermediate passes most thrown in the NFL and he doesn’t press a lot while playing off coverage 77% of the time. However, the reason he is rated so highly despite his inconsistencies are the fact that he has both short area quickness to adjust and speed in the open field to run with routes according to Mel Kiper of ESPN. Kiper is also impressed with Gilbert’s size and strength, showing the ability to get physical and redirect routes at the line along with the ability to turn his hips well and cover deep routes. He has good return ability to go along with ball skills.
Lastly, Bradley Roby of Ohio State has been linked to the Jets prominently since the draft season begun. Roby was probably the best cover corner in college football in 2012 before having a bad 2013 by his standards. He can play physically but lines up 6-10 yards from the line of scrimmage 67% of the time. Roby got abused by Jared Abbrederis of Wisconsin to the tune of 10 catches for 207 yards and that is not counting the penalties allowed. He said that he was slacking and his play improved tremendously after that. It seems to be a case of a young player believing his own press clippings and not putting in the extra work to improve. If the Jets like his character and see 2013 as a couple of bad games then Roby could be a Jet, if they either trade down in the 1st or up in the 2nd.
Those are a lot of choices and I’m sure there are more I could have listed from the draft. Personally, I think that they will draft Dennard and be very happy for years to come with a combination of Milliner and Dennard. Dennard fits what Rex Ryan is looking for in a corner both in play and in attitude. If not Denard I believe the Jets have a lot of interest in Roby and have been doing their homework on him. I could definitely see them making a play for him late in round one or early in round two if they miss on Dennard.
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