NY Jets’ rookie cornerback Bryce Hall will finally be given the chance to shine.
After releasing Trumaine Johnson and Darryl Roberts, both of whom performed poorly for the NY Jets in 2019, last March, it was clear that general manager Joe Douglas had to address the cornerback position in the offseason and he did so by signing Pierre Desir to a one-year contract.
Although he struggled in 2019, Desir’s play was thought to be impacted primarily by a nagging injury that bothered him for the duration of the season.
In 2018, however, he totaled 79 tackles, eight pass breakups, and an interception, while allowing 48 catches on 83 targets and two touchdowns as a member of the Indianapolis Colts.
In signing the 30-year-old Desir, Douglas was essentially hoping that if healthy, he could return to the level of play he displayed in 2018 and serve as a suitable starter on the outside for the green and white.
Unfortunately, that did not happen, as Desir disappointed from the start of the season.
Although he finished his tenure with the Jets with three interceptions, he was benched in Week 1 and hasn’t played well since, consistently showing weakness in coverage and failing, for the most part, to contain opposing receivers.
Given that Desir only signed a one-year deal and that the Jets are currently 0-9, a move like this won’t drastically impact the team in any way. What it does, however, is open up the door for another player to slide in, gain experience, and attempt to make a difference.
And in the case of the Jets, this player should be rookie Bryce Hall.
The NY Jets should turn to Bryce Hall with Pierre Desir now gone
At one point, Hall was expected to be an early-round draft pick, but a gruesome ankle injury suffered during his senior season at Virginia caused him to drop in the draft.
That allowed the Jets to select him in the fifth round of the 2020 NFL Draft, which could turn out to be a steal if he can return to the player he was pre-injury.
Prior to his season-ending injury in 2019, for example, Hall was seen as one of the nation’s top cornerbacks after a stellar 2018 campaign that saw him finish with 62 tackles, two sacks, two interceptions, two forced fumbles, and a whopping 21 pass breakups.
This stat line earned him Second-Team All-America honors as well as First-Team All-ACC honors. In four years with the Cavaliers, Hall totaled 154 tackles, four sacks, 31 pass breakups, five interceptions, three forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries.
Clearly a talented player, Hall would’ve never slipped as far as he did in the draft had it not been for the injury, but the Jets, in desperate need of help at the cornerback position, were willing to take a risk on the 23-year-old.
Following the draft, Hall was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list and wasn’t activated off of it until August 27th. Then, he was placed on the non-football injury list on September 5th, which has caused him to miss the majority of the season up until this point.
However, he now appears to be healthy, as he made his debut against the New England Patriots two weeks ago on Monday Night Football. He didn’t play a major role and only contributed two solo tackles, but it was certainly a step in the right direction.
And now with Desir no longer in the picture, there’s no reason why Hall shouldn’t receive a larger chunk of playing time.
Of course, it’ll likely take time for him to acclimate given that he’s coming off of an injury, hasn’t played live, meaningful football in quite some time, and didn’t have a proper training camp or preseason, but there’s no better way to learn than through experience.
Entering the draft, many experts projected that Hall, at some point, would evolve into a starting NFL cornerback and the Jets are certainly hoping that turns out to be the case as well. But to determine that, he needs to be given a chance.
And with the current state of the team, there’s simply no better time than now for Bryce Hall to gain experience with the Jets. What he does with that opportunity if it’s given, however, is ultimately up to him.