Analyzing the NY Jets' most underrated need with possible free-agent targets

The Jets have built a stacked roster, but safety remains a glaring hole
Tony Adams
Tony Adams / Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports
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2. NY Jets safety Tony Adams looks to build off an uneven 2023 campaign

The Jets are high on former UDFA Tony Adams. In February, Saleh stated, "I stand by it — I think he's going to be a fixture here for a while," referring to Adams. This is not the first time the third-year player has been heaped with praise.

The Illinois product played both cornerback and safety in college and quickly impressed as a UDFA in 2022. In 2023 he quickly assumed a starting role in camp after Clark's injury and the hope was his cornerback coverage skills could make him a contributor as a ball-hawking centerfielder.

Adams didn't live up to those lofty ideals in 2023, but his performance stabilized in the back half of the year and he showed enough flashes to demonstrate why the Jets coaching staff is so high on him. He finished the 2023 season with a 68.0 Pro Football Focus grade, ranking 34th among safeties with at least 500 snaps played.

That ranking puts him about average amongst all starting safeties in the league, which is not too shabby for a second-year UDFA. Adams' athleticism and versatility make him the ideal project for Saleh and Ulbrich to develop given their impressive history of developing athletically gifted but raw defensive players.

Clark might be the best possible mentor for the young Adams who needs to learn to harness his athleticism and channel his aggression into fundamentally sound play. The question is whether or not he'll be able to make that leap.

3. The NY Jets re-signed safety Ashtyn Davis

It's been a wild ride for the former third-round draft pick so far in his NFL career. After initially disappointing in his first couple of seasons, Davis carved out a role as a core special teamer, before finally flashing in an expanded role on defense in 2023.

The difference between 2022 and 2023 was stark for Davis. In 2022 he played just 13 defensive snaps, making the team solely based on his special teams contributions. In 2023, he seized the opportunity created by Clark's injury upping his snap count to 217.

The Jets in 2023 primarily used Davis in three-safety looks with him playing a pseudo-linebacker role. It was a role he excelled in tallying 3 interceptions and making splash plays over his limited snap count.

Still, the question remains whether or not he can take his game to another level. In the past, he's struggled in deep alignments both as a coverage player and a tackler. He was often out of position and took poor angles leading to missed tackles.

Despite his resurgence in 2023, missed tackles were still an issue as he posted a 16.0% missed tackle rate, per Pro Football Focus. That said, he was much improved in coverage when aligned closer to the line of scrimmage and regularly shut down opposing tight ends and running backs.

The modest commitment the Jets made to Davis in re-signing him to a one-year deal means the Jets are hedging their bets as to whether there's more potential here or if 2023 is who Davis is as a finished product.