Nov 24, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; New York Jets cornerbackDarrin Walls
(30) against the Buffalo Bills at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Much has been written about the rebuild of the New York Jets and especially their defensive secondary. Fans and the media alike have been bubbling with excitement over the free agency signings of Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, and Buster Skrine. After having one of the worst defensive secondaries in recent memory last year, the Jets went out and shook things up rather nicely.
It is widely assumed that the three free agents will automatically take over the starting spots for the Jets this season. The money paid to these three, along with their guarantees, is enough to make that seem like a no-brainer. Yet, I myself don’t think its that cut and dry. Todd Bowles and Mike Maccagnan went to some length to insure that there was plenty of competition this summer.
The Jets currently employ nine corner backs on their roster. With that many bodies, camp promises to hold competition, and with competition often comes surprises. Jet fans might be surprised indeed, there is a ton of athletic ability behind the big names, and all of them are looking to make a name for themselves.
Let’s put the three big names behind for this slideshow. Instead, let’s look at the cornerback competition that will take place this summer and see who will rise as quality depth behind the starters.
Next: Dee Milliner
Sep 14, 2014; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiverJordy Nelson
(87) catches a 33 yard pass with New York Jets cornerback Dee Milliner (27) defending during the second half of a game at Lambeau Field. Green Bay won 31-24. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Milliner leads the way among the other big names at cornerback. Selected by the Jets with the ninth pick of the 2013 NFL Draft, Milliner was drafted ironically to one day replace Revis as the Jets premiere corner. We all know of Milliner’s struggles in his first two seasons as injuries and poor play have kept him on the bench more then on the field in his first two seasons.
Milliner does possess the talent to be a starter in the NFL however. Thrown to the wolves in his rookie season, it became apparent early on he wasn’t ready for the starting role. Even during that disappointing rookie season, Milliner flashed the talent to be successful down the road.
He has the potential to challenge for a starting spot this season if he can remain healthy and take the next step in the new defensive schemes coming to the Jets. Milliner measures out at 6’0″/2o1 lbs, at 23 years old he is still relatively young. Milliner has a lot to prove this year but make no mistake there are reasons he was drafted in the first round. He’s a player to keep your eye on this year.
Next: Dexter McDougle
Jun 17, 2014; Florham Parl, NJ, USA; New York Jets cornerbackDexter McDougle
(43) during minicamp at Atlantic Health Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
McDougle is another corner that will be looking to prove he can claim a starters spot this year. Drafted by the Jets in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft, McDougle was seen by many as an eventual replacement for a disappointing Kyle Wilson.
Unfortunately for McDougle, he tore an ACL last summer and had to spend his rookie season on the injured reserve list. McDougle had a strong camp last season, spending time between the ones and twos. McDougle was singled out for praise by then head coach Rex Ryan on several occasions for his work ethic and on the field performances.
McDougle has a history of injuries and the most recent injury has to be concerning to the coaching staff. McDougle however has had a full year to get healthy and the Jets have indicated they will bring him back slowly this upcoming season. If McDougle can get healthy and show his stuff this summer, he has the talent to be taken seriously.
I wouldn’t say that McDougle can claim a starter spot before the beginning of the season but he certainly has the potential to claim the spot during it. McDougle measures in at 5’10″/196 lbs and is another young talent for the Jets, at only 24 years old. He’ll need to prove himself this summer, but the talent is there for the nurturing.
Next: The Rest Of The Pack
Nov 24, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; New York Jets cornerback Marcus Williams (22) against the Buffalo Bills at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
The Rest Of The Pack
Darrin Walls is a veteran at this point and is often overlooked by many. Walls won’t be mistaken for an elite corner anytime soon, but he is serviceable. He has been a valuable backup who has stepped up to a starting role several times for the Jets. This is a make or break season for him at the age of 26 years old and with his contract expiring at the end of 2015, he’ll have a lot to prove.
Marcus Williams caught a lot of folks eye with his play when called on to fill in during dire times last season for the Jets. Williams flashed potential and if he can build on where he left off last season, he might be a real hidden diamond for the Jets.
Rounding out the roster at corner are Curtis Brown, Keith Lewis, and Dashaun Phillips. This group isn’t without talent or potential either. Brown was a former third round pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers who has been slowed by injuries, but if he can get healthy, possesses the skills to compete at the NFL level.
Lewis is another interesting prospect, he’s been counted out before in his young career, but Lewis comes to the Jets ready to compete. At 6’1″/190 lbs, Lewis possesses the speed and size to compete at the NFL level as well. Phillips joins the roster as a rookie but in a crowded and very talented cornerback competition, he’ll have to produce a great camp to stand out.
The great news for the Jets is the corne back competition in this year’s camp promises to be an intense one. While many have already declared starters for 2015, I don’t think that is quite fair to the talent level the Jets currently possess. This group is stacked with talent from top to bottom as soon it will be time to show what they have and let the best player win. You might be surprised when all is said and done this summer. Enjoy the competition!