NY Jets Post-NFL Draft State of the Roster: Cornerbacks

NY Jets (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images) /

The NY Jets will host a cornerback depth chart brimming with potential in 2020.

The NY Jets enter the 2020 season with a renewed sense of optimism regarding the cornerback position. It’s important to remember that not too long ago it was considered to be the most worrisome position on the roster.

Now, there’s a chance that it could become a true strength by season’s end.

Going into 2019, few had any positive things to say about the state of the Jets’ cornerbacks. The staring duo of Trumaine Johnson and Darryl Roberts offered little promise and the signing of Brian Poole in the offseason was seen as a lateral move from the incumbent Buster Skrine.

What a difference a year makes.

Johnson and Roberts are gone and were replaced midway through last season by younger, more effective players. And Poole turned out to be one of the steals of free agency and was perhaps the Jets’ most consistent defensive player last season aside from Jamal Adams.

Add in a couple of offseason additions through free agency, the draft, and even a trade and you have a competent cornerback group that may not have a true No. 1, but is brimming with potential.

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Let’s take a look at the state of the Jets’ cornerbacks heading into 2020.

NY Jets’ projected starters

  • Pierre Desir
  • Blessuan Austin
  • Brian Poole

The Jets will enter 2020 with only one returning starter from their 2019 group — slot cornerback Brian Poole. Poole was one of the surprise standouts from last season putting together the best year of hs career.

The former Atlanta Falcons defensive back earned a stellar 79.0 Pro Football Focus grade which ranked him as the No. 9 cornerback in the entire league. Poole will be looking to prove that last season wasn’t a one-year fluke.

Meanwhile, the Jets signed former Indianapolis Colts cornerback Pierre Desir in the offseason after an injury-plagued disappointing 2019 season. However, Desir was one of the standouts from a developing Colts secondary in 2018 before being hit with the injury bug last year.

Desir did play in 12 games, but played the majority of the season with a hamstring injury which certainly tanked his efficiency. Now healthy, the 29-year-old will be given a golden opportunity as the presumptive No. 1 cornerback.

Perhaps no player at the position possesses more potential than second-year cornerback Blessuan Austin. Few could have expected the 2019 sixth-rounder to even play, let alone make a significant impact last season.

And yet, Austin became one of the true bright spots on a promising Jets defense late in 2019 after being activated off of the PUP list.

While his future is undoubtedly bright, Austin will need to prove that he can not only play at the same level he did in 2019 over the duration of an entire season, but do so while remaining healthy.

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NY Jets’ projected depth/competing for a roster spot

  • Arthur Maulet
  • Bryce Hall (R)
  • Quincy Wilson
  • Nate Hairston
  • Lamar Jackson (R)
  • Javelin Guidry (R)

Somewhat surprisingly, the Jets’ cornerback depth chart actually boasts a fair amount of potential. From unexpected standout Arthur Maulet to promising fifth-round pick Bryce Hall, the Jets have no shortage of budding talent at the position.

Of the six listed above, Hall will pretty much be guaranteed a roster spot provided he can recover from a gruesome ankle injury he suffered a year ago. Expect Maulet to stick around as well as a depth cornerback and special-teamer.

Maulet impressed last season when thrust into action and also served a vital role in Brant Boyer’s special teams unit. Look for him to continue to serve that role in 2020 provided he makes the roster.

Quincy Wilson is another name that should intrigue Jets fans if for no other reason than his former second-round pick status. At 6-foot-2, 193 pounds, Wilson is a big-bodied press-specialist who brings no shortage of physicality.

His lack of deep speed cost has cost him to this point but the former Florida star showed potential early in his career before an abysmal 2019 campaign. If the Jets carry six cornerbacks in 2020, expect him to be one of the front-runners for that spot.

Perhaps a forgotten member of the Jets’ secondary, Nate Hairston was the first player called upon when Trumaine Johnson went down last season. Unfortunately, he did not have the same success as his counterparts and will likely be fighting an uphill battle this summer.

The final two members of the cornerback depth chart are both undrafted free agents with completely different skillsets. Lamar Jackson fits a similar mold as Wilson as a large-framed, physically-dominant cornerback who excels in man coverage.

Like Wilson, he isn’t the greatest athlete and is more scheme-dependent than most others on the roster, but he could be a good fit in Gregg Williams system if he makes the team. More likely, however, is a future spot on the practice squad.

Javelin Guidry, on the other hand, is a speedy, undersized cornerback who fits more of a slot role. The Utah product ran a blazing 4.29 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine — second-fastest among all participants.

Guidry’s best chance of making the roster would be as a backup slot to Poole, but he’ll more than likely be competing for a spot on the practice squad as well.

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Ultimately, there are plenty of reasons to be excited about the Jets’ cornerbacks going into 2020. And that’s certainly a far cry to the predominant mindset from a year ago.