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

NY Jets (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

The NY Jets will boast arguably the best safety duo in the NFL heading into 2020.

The NY Jets had a number of weaknesses heading into the 2020 offseason, but it’s safe to say that safety was not necessarily one of them.

Sure, the depth behind the talented duo of Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye wasn’t the best — and it was addressed as a result — but Adams and Maye more than made up for it.

And now going into 2020, the Jets arguably have the most complete safety depth chart in the entire NFL. From their excellent starting duo to their promising depth, the Jets have an encouraging safety group that features a plan for both the present and the future.

Gregg Williams’ defense overachieved in many ways last season as the veteran defensive coordinator was able to get the absolute most out of his players. And the safety position was no exception to that rule.

Now, heading into a season with high expectations, the sky is the limit for what they could accomplish.

Let’s take a look at the state of the Jets’ safeties following the 2020 NFL Draft.

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NY Jets’ projected starters

  • Jamal Adams
  • Marcus Maye

Really, what is there to discuss here?

The Jets’ starting duo is — if not already the best pair of safeties — one of the best duos in the entire NFL. And the primary catalyst for that claim is Jamal Adams.

The 24-year-old has made the Pro Bowl in each of the last two seasons and was named first-team All-Pro in 2019. Adams looked well on way towards breaking Adrian Wilson’s single-season sack record for a defensive back before an untimely ankle injury derailed his season.

Before that happened, he had totaled 6.5 in a four-game span single-handily dominating a few of those games on defense. While the entire defense shined, none shined brighter than Adams.

He can cover, he can rush the passer, and he can stop the run. He is the face of the franchise and nothing more needs to be said.

As for his running mate, Maye often gets overshadowed by the flashier Adams, but the former second-round pick put together a very solid season last year in his return from injury.

Maye flashed his coverage ability in six games in 2018 before going down with an injury, but picked up where he left off in 2019. The Florida product finished as Pro Football Focus’ No. 17 ranked safety scoring a particularly high coverage grade of 77.4

In what could end up being his final season with the Jets, look for Maye to try and make the most of his contract year with another excellent campaign.

NY Jets’ projected backups

  • Ashtyn Davis (R)
  • Matthias Farley
  • Bennett Jackson
  • Anthony Cioffi
  • Shyheim Carter (R)

The Jets’ safety depth wasn’t looking particularly strong going into the 2020 NFL Draft, but after the selection of Cal safety Ashtyn Davis in the third round, the team now appears to have a reliable backup behind Adams and Maye.

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And don’t expect him to be a backup for too long either.

In some ways, the selection of Davis surprised many people. But after further analysis, it became clear why the pick was made. Davis is likely set to become Maye’s successor at free safety following the 2020 season.

But as for now, look for Davis to see an increased role on defense as the year goes on filling the third safety role in the Jets’ big nickel package. On top of that, don’t be surprised if he becomes a favorite of special teams coordinator Brant Boyer by the season’s end.

Behind him, however, things get a bit trickier.

The likes of Matthias Farley and Bennett Jackson return after spending some time on the active roster last season. Jackson played in just two games seeing exclusively special-teams work while Farley played in 13 receiving four defensive snaps all year.

It’s clear what roles they fill and it’s likely that the duo will be competing for a roster spot primarily through their special-teams work. Given that Farley is more of a free safety, though, the team might turn to Jackson as a true backup to Adams at strong safety.

But they won’t be the only ones competing for that fourth safety spot — assuming the Jets carry four safeties. Local New Jersey native and Rutgers product Anthony Cioffi will get his shot as well after spending the last two years in the CFL.

He’ll be a longshot and at 25-years-old he certainly isn’t even guaranteed a roster spot, but he has the speed and athleticism to be a menace on special teams — reminiscent of the aforementioned Davis.

Finally, undrafted rookie Shyheim Carter may seem like a longshot to some, but it certainly would be premature to count him out. The Alabama product was given the second most guaranteed money of any Jets UDFA behind Bryce Huff indicating the team’s interest in him.

His versatility will likely go a long way, but his lack of coverage skills likely means that he’ll be restricted to special-teams work.

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Ultimately, the Jets’ starting safety duo is one of the most revered in the NFL and the addition of Davis gives the team the depth they were very much in need of.

It’s hard to have any complaints about the state of the Jets’ safeties going into 2020.