Justin Hardee, CB, NY Jets
With the Jets' inexperience at cornerback, there is always a chance that Justin Hardee could see some snaps at the cornerback spot, but let's be real here.
Hardee is a Jet because of his elite special teams ability and his high character traits. After all, he's played only 115 defensive snaps in his entire career.
The Jets wanted Hardee in their building and locker room so badly that they gave him a three-year deal worth $5.25 million. Perhaps no one was more elated about Hardee's arrival than special teams coordinator Brant Boyer.
Hardee was an integral part of a New Orleans special teams unit that allowed 46 punt return yards all of last season — the least in a season since the strike year of 1982. And the 2.3 yards/return was the least allowed by a special teams unit since 1971.
The Saints also gave up the second-fewest yards per kick return last season (17.2). Hardee himself had a special teams grade of 90.4 by Pro Football Focus last season.
Justin Hardee is going to be an important player and leader on the NY Jets roster. It just won't be on defense.
Corey Ballentine, CB, NY Jets
Much like Justin Hardee, Corey Ballentine's immediate roster value for the Jets comes on special teams. A trait that he showed in college blocking four kicks and as a dynamic returner.
The former sixth-round pick of the New York Giants and former Cliff Harris Award winner — annually given to the nation's top small college defensive player — was picked up off of waivers by the Jets last November.
Ballentine gave the Jets a spark last season at kick returner, averaging 24.1 yards per return with a long of 66 yards. But in 2021, Ballentine will have a hard time cracking the Jets defensive lineup and will have a lot more competition in kick return duties.
The return of preseason games this summer can be useful for players like Corey Ballentine. It will afford him and others the opportunity for extended playing time.