Going into the 2018 NFL Draft, the New York Jets have many needs. Who are the players the Jets can add at cornerback?
Looking back at the New York Jets 2017 season, it’s hard to discern if they had a good season or not. Obviously, their record of 5-11 is one that would say it was a down year. However, they had many young players step up and show promise for the future.
It goes without saying that quarterback is the Jets most pressing need this offseason. Whether or not they can sign Kirk Cousins will have a huge impact on how they progress with the rest of their roster.
Despite this, the Jets still need some major upgrades at other positions, including cornerback.
You would think looking at the last 10 years of first-round draft picks that the Jets would be set at defensive back. Going back to Darrelle Revis in 2007, they have drafted a defensive back with their first-round pick five times. However, many of these players, a list that includes Kyle Wilson, Dee Milliner, and Calvin Pryor, didn’t pan out.
The Jets 2017 draft gives fans hope that GM Mike Maccagnan is getting better with experience. If that is true, the Jets should do very well in 2018.
The tandem of Buster Skrine and Morris Claiborne are both free agents. If they can be brought back at reasonable prices, that isn’t a bad place to start. Last season both played well at times, but fell off a bit at the end of the season. Even if they come back, the Jets still need some upgrades defending the pass.
The Jets averaged 11.9 yards per reception on defense last year which was seventh-worst in the NFL. They also allowed 30 passing touchdowns which tied with the Packers and Texans for second-most. Only the New York Giants, with 32, allowed more.
Drafting a corner in the first round depends on if the Jets can sign Cousins. Minkah Fitzpatrick would be the ideal candidate because of his versatility. Before switching to safety, Fitzpatrick played the “star” position at Alabama. The star position, for those of you who don’t speak football lingo, is the fifth defensive back in the nickel package.
Fitzpatrick also has a knack for making big plays at big times. He would be a perfect fit to what the Jets already have in Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye.
If the Jets don’t get Fitzpatrick at number six, they are better off waiting until the later rounds, primarily the second where they have an extra pick, to draft a corner.
Arguments can be made for who will be available in the second round, but Jaire Alexander might fall there because of injury concerns. He missed six games this season, but his athleticism is too good to pass up.
J.C. Jackson of Maryland is another player the Jets might want to look at on day two of the draft. Yes, Jackson has major off the field issues which caused his dismissal from Florida. However, those at Maryland speak highly of him and say he has learned from his past mistakes.
Free agency isn’t a bad option for corner either if the Jets choose that route. The most obvious is the Patriots former Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler, who gained notoriety in Super Bowl 52 because he didn’t play.
E.J. Gaines of Buffalo is a player that could slip under the radar. Only 26, he’d be a great addition to an already young secondary. The only problem with Gaines is durability, and it is a major problem. He’s missed 26 games in the last three seasons combined.
Kyle Fuller and Darqueze Dennard are two other players that have had up-and-down careers, but are young enough (both 26) and have the talent. While Fuller takes some games off, he shows promise in others. Dennard, meanwhile, put together a terrific 2017 for the Bengals.
Perhaps like no other position, cover corners and players that can cover the slot position are becoming a must for elite defenses. How the Jets prepare themselves during the offseason at this position will have a big effect on their success in 2018.