Grading current cornerback situation

May 25, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Jets cornerback Marcus Williams (20) during OTA at Atlantic Health Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
May 25, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Jets cornerback Marcus Williams (20) during OTA at Atlantic Health Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports /

The New York Jets have a great thing going when it comes to their cornerback situation as the unit will once again be a strength this upcoming season.

It’s safe to say that the New York Jets have an underrated cornerback group. It isn’t the team’s best defensive unit, however they’re no joke despite a shaky 2015 finish. In the final three weeks, Gang Green’s secondary nearly melted down against the Kellen Moore-led Dallas Cowboys, let the New England Patriots send the game to overtime in Week 16, and completely collapsed vs. the Buffalo Bills in the season finale. Other than those three outings, they’ve been very reliable under head coach Todd Bowles. Let’s see what’s in store for them heading into the new year.

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Cornerback Antonio Cromartie is the one who held back the group the most in 2015, although there’s no hiding the mistakes that Darrelle Revis made. He had a tremendous campaign takeaway-wise racking up five interceptions and four fumble recoveries, but his showings against DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins (Week 17) were dreadful.

The future Pro Football Hall of Famer was giving both wideouts ten yards of cushion and first downs on just about every play. Revis still has plenty left in the tank and it’s time for him to get back to jamming receivers at the line. Even though he’s 31-years-old, it shouldn’t be an excuse for him to play lazy.

Cornerback Marcus Williams is the man with all the upside and he’s currently in line to start opposite of Revis as the No. 2 guy. The youngster led the Jets in interceptions last season with six while also tallying a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and 1.5 sacks.

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What makes him so valuable is his ability to cover in both the slot and on the outside given how fast he is.

When Buster Skrine isn’t playing the nickel, Williams most likely is.

As we saw in the Week 11 game, the North Dakota State product can blitz too.

All he needs to do this upcoming year is put it all together and prove 2015 wasn’t a fluke.

Skrine was a gem of a signing last offseason that many criticized at first. The Jets broke the bank and gave him a four-year deal worth $25M with $13M guaranteed. It seemed like a boatload of money for a nickel corner who really didn’t turn many heads as a member of the Cleveland Browns, but the 27-year-old was impressive in his first season in New York.

He led the cornerbacks in tackles with 56 and he also had an interception in the blowout win over the Tennessee Titans. Despite not recording a sack, you could still make the case that he was one of the best blitzing corners of the NFL in 2015. Bowles and general manager Mike Maccagnan should be extremely pleased with what Skrine can do for the secondary.

On the other hand, 2013 first-round pick Dee Milliner has been an enormous disappointment for the Jets in his three seasons with the team. The injury bug has hammered him badly, although his production when he’s healthy has been sub-par.

The one bright spot in his career was without a doubt the conclusion of his rookie campaign. He contained the red-hot Josh Gordon in Week 16 and helped spoil the Miami Dolphins’ playoff hopes the following Sunday with two interceptions. New York hopes he can get back to that level in 2016 if he can stay on the field.

Dexter McDougle, Juston Burris, Darryl Morris, Kevin Short and Bryson Keeton round out the rest of the cornerbacks. Burris is a lock to make the roster since the Jets selected him in the fourth round of this year’s draft. Morris looked promising in his time with the Texans, but you have to give McDougle the slight edge in the battle that seems to be between the two. Short and Keeton are on the outside looking in, however don’t be surprised if one of them gets stashed on the practice squad. You can never have too much depth at cornerback.

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Overall, this group has the potential to be special if Milliner can finally get over the hump. That’s obviously a lot to ask for since he’s pretty much never been healthy, although his job is on the line and he knows it. Until he steps up, it’s difficult to give this unit a high grade due to a lack of quality depth.

Grade: B