The NY Jets have been looking for their next shutdown cornerback since Darrelle Revis left town. The organization has had a revolving door at the position for the past few years, but they need to seriously address the position this offseason.
General manager Joe Douglas wasn’t aggressive enough in improving the cornerback room last year. Douglas took Bryce Hall in the fifth round, who slipped in the draft due to an ankle injury. and also took a flier on Pierre Desir, but that move didn’t pan out nearly as well for New York.
Hall only played eight games but did show promise. He should be given the opportunity to compete for a starting job in 2021. However, the spot opposite him is currently vacant.
Head coach Robert Saleh has said that he wants cornerbacks who can win one-on-one matchups in big moments. There are a number of players out there who can fit the bill.
The NY Jets have options in free agency
Free agents Richard Sherman and Jason Verrett played under coach Saleh in 2020 and could fit in New York.
Verrett revitalized his career in 2020 and earned a 77.6 Pro Football Focus grade, which ranked eighth-best among corners. And even though Sherman is 33-years-old, he could be an intriguing option for New York.
The former All-Pro cornerback would bring immediate leadership to the locker room and his play on the field hasn’t slipped much.
Per Jets X Factor’s Michael Nania, Sherman posted a 68.8 PFF grade and allowed the second-fewest yards per snap among qualifiers in 2020 (0.43). This comes just one year after he allowed the fewest yards per snap among qualifiers (0.44).
Douglas should also look into retaining free agent Brian Poole. The former Atlanta Falcons cornerback backed up his breakout 2019 campaign with an impressive 2020 season.
Even though his season was cut short due to injury, Poole was ranked as PFF’s 10th best cornerback with a 77.4 grade. Re-signing Poole to a long-term deal would solidify the Jets’ slot cornerback position.
If Poole signs elsewhere, Douglas could pivot and sign former San Francisco nickel cornerback K’Waun Williams who played under Saleh in 2020 as well.
Michael Davis is a sneaky good option in free agency too. The 26-year old had three inceptions and was tied for seventh among cornerbacks with 14 passes defended in 2020. Davis has only given up four touchdowns over the span of 1,479 career snaps.
NY Jets can address cornerback in the 2021 NFL Draft
New York could also address the cornerback position in the 2021 NFL Draft as well. The Jets should look into drafting South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn.
At 6-foot-1, 205 pounds, Horn has the size and length to match up well against receivers in the NFL. He has the physicality to be disruptive in press coverage and is very competitive at the catch point.
Northwestern’s Greg Newsome II is another player New York could target. At 6-foot-1, 190 pounds, Newsome has a good combination of size and athleticism.
He played press-man, off-man, and zone coverage throughout college, showing his flexibility in a variety of coverage schemes. Newsome allowed a 0.0 passer rating on third and fourth down last season, per PFF.
The red flag with Newsome is his injury history. In three seasons at Northwestern, Newsome missed a total of 14 games. But if he could stay healthy at the next level, he can be a solid starter on the outside.
The Jets need to improve the cornerback room and there are plenty of options to do so this offseason. Joe Douglas must take multiple swings at cornerback through free agency and the draft.