3 small NY Jets moves that could make a big difference in 2024

These under-the-radar moves could make a big impact in 2024
Greg Zuerlein
Greg Zuerlein / Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
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2. NY Jets draft Qwan'tez Stiggers

Normally rookie fifth-round picks don't make much of an impact in year one. Furthermore, backups behind the best cornerback trio in the league aren't likely to make much of an impact, but Stiggers is anything but the ordinary late-round NFL draft pick.

Despite rookie cornerback Qwan'tez Stiggers not playing a single down of college football scouts from 29 teams were in attendance at his independent pro day. Of those 29 teams, 13 hosted him for a top-30 visit during the pre-draft process. Those numbers are basically unheard of.

Stiggers spent the 2023 season in the CFL, earning that league's Most Outstanding Rookie award. Normally, CFL players aren't drafted, but Stiggers didn't have enough time outside of high school and therefore was subject to the NFL draft.

That lack of college tape makes Stiggers a tough evaluation. He has an NFL frame at just under 6-foot, 204 pounds, and athleticism that suggests he belongs, as evidenced by his 9.34 RAS. He lit up the East-West Shrine Bowl too, which was his only opportunity to play against top-tier college competition.

The lack of an accurate measuring stick is what makes Stiggers so intriguing. Is he a diamond in the rough that would have been a first-round pick had he played at a major college program? Is he just a great story, but a player who will quickly get exposed as someone who doesn't belong once the NFL lights go on?

To this point, reports have been glowing about Stiggers' performance at OTAs. It's obviously early in the process but so far he's looked not just like he can hang with the big boys, but like he's belonged.

That's important too. With newly signed former cornerback Isaiah Oliver transitioning to safety and the departure of former Jets cornerback Bryce Hall during free agency, only Brandin Echols is the only reliable depth piece behind Sauce Gardner, D.J. Reed, and Michael Carter II.

There's the opportunity for Stiggers. Echols has filled in admirably in spot duty from time to time over the last two years, but he hasn't been tested over an extended period of time since his rookie season in 2021. The results weren't great then. Furthermore, Echols is pretty small to play outside corner consistently in the event of an injury.

As much bad injury luck as the Jets have had on the offensive side of the ball the past two seasons, their luck on the defensive side of the ball has been incredible. No key players have really missed extended time on defense in 2022 or 2023.

If an injury should occur that would keep Gardner or Reed out of action for a while, Stiggers could snag the role of next man up and exceed expectations as he's done every step of the way throughout his young football career thus far.

He could very well supplant Echols as the top reserve corner, and if given the opportunity, could thrive and prove himself a vital piece in 2024 and beyond on the defense.