We continue our New York Jets training camp preview by breaking down the depth chart at cornerback.
The Jets have talent in every position in 2019, but one of their biggest holes heading into Training Camp is the Cornerback position, which is key in today’s pass-heavy NFL. Trumaine Johnson is the clear #1, as the Jets gave him a big contract a year ago, and if he can stay healthy, he’ll be key to maintaining this Jets CB group.
When the Jets were at their best in 2008-2011, they had two of the best CB’s in the game, but unfortunately, they just don’t have the talent for that right now. With Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye holding down the leadership role in the secondary, there is a little room for error, but this group really needs to step up.
Unfortunately, the team doesn’t have 2 shut-down corners, and they might need to use each CB in packages to utilize them to the best of their ability, but who exactly will those players be? Let’s take a look.
No.1: Trumaine Johnson
A year ago, the Jets missed out on several Free Agents, and the team scrambled to make some sort of an impact, so they gave former LA Rams Cornerback Trumaine Johnson a 5-year, $72.5 Million contract. Unfortunately for the Jets, like Marcus Maye, Johnson’s 2018 season was marred by injury, and if they are to go anywhere in 2019, he will need to be healthy all season long.
Despite these injuries, Johnson is still the most talented and experienced Cornerback the Jets have, and there’s no doubt he’s leading the way for New York. Despite all the talent, Johnson has never been elected to the Pro Bowl, and with all the talent this D now has, he will have to step up alongside Jamal Adams and C.J Mosely to lead this team, as he’s the 1 shining light in this Jets CB team.
No.2: Brian Poole
While the Jets missed out on several top Cornerback’s this offseason, they did manage to get the former Falcons Brian Poole, whose career is on the rise. He signed with the team 4 years ago as an undrafted Free Agent, and in 2018, Poole had his best career year, tallying 3 sacks, 3 Interceptions and 5 QB hits, all career highs.
Most of this success took place as the Falcons #3 or nickel Corner, and while it’s still possible the Jets will use him sparingly, he may need to step up and take a bigger role with this team. Unlike most corners, Poole likes to attack the QB, and with Jamal Adams at the back playing free, making the QB’s life hell, Poole will fit in perfectly, and will likely win the second starting job this Training Camp.
No.3: Darryl Roberts
While Darryl Roberts isn’t one of the most talented players on the Jets roster, he’s a hard worker, and after playing in all 16 games a year ago, he’s ready to step up for this Jets team. He could definitely take the starting spot from Brian Poole with an impressive training camp, but no matter how he’s used, Roberts is a breakout star waiting to happen for New York.
Roberts has not yet put it all together in his 4 year NFL career (the past 3 with the Jets), but with great leadership from Johnson, this could be the year. If he doesn’t put it all together soon, the Jets will need to move on, but with all the physical tools and the work ethic, he could be a shining light for what has the potential to be one of the AFC’s best Defense’s.
No.4: Parry Nickerson
Parry Nickerson was a 6th round pick a year ago for the Jets, and although he’s undersized, he has all the drive and the talent to be one of the stars of this team going forward. During the 2018 season, he flashed greatness throughout the year, and although he didn’t make any big impact plays, he was a constant presence and source of energy for the team.
While his playing time will be limited with the inclusion of Brian Poole to this year’s squad, Nickerson has plenty of potential, and he’ll get the chance to shine all year long. Training Camp will be key for Nickerson, Roberts, Poole and Austin to sort out their standing within the team, but no matter what, all 4 men will be vital to the Jets depth and success in 2019.
No.5: Bless Austin
In the late rounds of the NFL Draft, teams are willing to take fliers on talented young players, and the Jets got a very promising one in the 6thround of the 2019 Draft in Rutgers CB, Blessaun Austin. Despite 2 significant knee injuries, Austin remains positive and confident about his play, and if he can quickly learn the NFL game, he could be a starter for this team one day.
Despite being taken in the 6thround, he has the talent of an early round draft pick, as he constantly improved throughout his impressive 4 years at Rutgers (also unfortunately hampered by injury). He’s not going to crack a starting role in 2019, and he may see very little time, but when he is fully healthy and ready to go, Bless Austin may turn out to be one of the biggest steals from the 2019 NFL Draft.
The Rest: Derrick Jones, Jeremy Clark, Kyron Brown, Arthur Maulet
Training Camp and pre-season is key for teams to find hidden gems or future stars among their teams, and while all 4 of these men have potential, they find themselves on the outside looking in. While the Jets don’t have an experienced, proven CB group, they’ve got some potential young stars, and unfortunately, that may spell Training Camp doom for these 4 young men.
With the practice squad and so many opportunities to prove themselves throughout the year, one of these men may move into the 53-man squad, but right now, it doesn’t look good. Every year there is a breakout player that no one saw coming (look at late round picks like Richard Sherman, Alvin Kamara, Tom Brady, Russell Wilson and so many others), but don’t expect that to happen with this years Jets at the CB position.