NY Jets: Quincy Wilson expected to win a starting cornerback job?

NY Jets (Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images) /

Should NY Jets’ cornerback Qunciy Wilson be considered an early favorite for a starting job?

The NY Jets are expected to have a number of position battles to keep an eye on as we approach training camp and the preseason. And one of the more interesting ones to watch will be at cornerback.

The Jets went into the 2019 season with arguably the worst cornerback group in the NFL. But by the end of the season, the makeshift lineup deployed by defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was playing some pretty impressive football.

In the offseason, the Jets added a few new faces to the cornerback room via free agency, the 2020 NFL Draft, and even the trade market. The added talent is expected to create quite an interesting roster battle this summer.

While the incumbent Brian Poole will have the starting slot role locked down and free-agent signing Pierre Desir is expected to be the team’s top outside cornerback, the competition for the second outside spot remains fierce.

Many expect the favorite for the job to be 2019 sixth-rounder Blessuan Austin who played increasingly well down the stretch last season. But that might not be the case.

In fact, Connor Hughes of The Athletic expects an unlikely face to emerge from the pack as a starter. That player is Quincy Wilson.

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Could Qunicy Wilson reach his potential with the NY Jets?

Wilson was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft and entered the league with considerable hype. And the former Florida star actually played quite well over his first two NFL seasons.

But everything fell apart for him in 2019 and he struggled mightily in the Colts’ new zone scheme posting an abysmal 30.2 Pro Football Focus grade that would have ranked dead last in the NFL if he played enough snaps to qualify.

The schematic change prompted the Colts to move on from the physically-gifted Wilson and they shipped him to their frequent trade partners in the Jets on Day 3 of the 2020 NFL Draft for the price of just a sixth-round pick.

Wilson undoubtedly has the talent needed to be an excellent NFL cornerback. At 6-foot-2, 193 pounds, few cornerbacks could match-up physically with Wilson. And his physicality and ball skills provide hope for a brighter future.

We saw glimpses of his excellence throughout his first two NFL seasons where he was asked to play primarily press-man coverage — the strength of his game. And there’s reason to expect a career resurgence in a Gregg Williams system that emphasizes in press-man coverage.

But can he really win a starting job out of training camp? Hughes seems to think so, but it’s going to be a tough battle.

Aside from Austin, Wilson will be competing with the likes of fifth-round pick Bryce Hall and the returning Arthur Maulet. Hall is seen by many as a steal in the fifth round and if healthy could make an impact from day one. Meanwhile, Maulet impressed alongside Austin last year.

There will be competition, but Wilson now finds himself in a perfect situation to succeed after being pigeonholed into a role that didn’t suit him last season.

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The Jets finally appear to have some capable depth at the cornerback position and even if Wilson doesn’t get the starting nod, it never hurts to have strong competition.