Cornerback is one of the New York Jets’ biggest needs. The NFL Draft isn’t deep at CB, but there are a few mid-rounders to keep in mind.
Their one shining light was slot man Brian Poole. His contract is up and the Jets have no player on their roster to replace him. They also don’t have a single starting-caliber CB on their roster.
They’ll likely look to address CB in free agency considering this isn’t a strong draft class at CB. The Jets also have a ton of other more pressing needs like the offensive line, wide receiver, and edge rusher.
With that in mind, there are a few potential under-the-radar CB candidates who could slip to the Jets in the third round, where they have two picks.
Damon Arnette, Ohio State
Damon Arnette is an odd case. The talent is there, but he lacks size and he’s older than most prospects in this class. Arnett’s a fifth-year senior meaning he’s going to be 24-years-old by Week 1. At 6-feet and 195 pounds, Arnette lacks prototypical outside CB size.
Arnette’s a jack-of-all-trades CB. He’s got good technique, good athleticism, he can press, he can play zone, he’s also good in the run game. There’s no one phase in the game where Arnette has a clear weakness.
The weakness comes from his size and speed. He’s likely to run a 40-yard dash time around 4.5. He’s likely going to have to play slot CB at the next level. Combine that with his age and you get a high-floor low-ceiling prospect.
If the New York Jets are looking to replace Brian Poole through the draft, Arnette is their best bet.
Jaylon Johnson, Utah
Jaylon Johnson has the same height and weight issues that Arnette has, but he makes up for it with long arms allow him to play bigger. That said, he has played a ton of slot CB for Utah.
Johnson is a near-perfect fit for Gregg Williams’s defense. He loves to blitz and get to the CB, a necessity in Williams’s defense. He can tackle well, though he doesn’t seek contact in the run game.
Johnson doesn’t handle press well despite his size. He becomes grabby and penalty prone. This is part of an overall technique issue that Johnson has in coverage. He lacks concentration in coverage and tends to focus on the QB rather than his man.
What sets Johnson apart is his easy athleticism. He’s likely to run a 4.45 fort-yard-time. He takes long and easy strides and he turns his hips well. He has all the tools to be an elite level CB either inside or out. Johnson just needs to gain focus and technique. He’s also only going to be 21-year-old by Week 1.
He’s not that different than Poole when he came to the Jets in 2019. His skillset and blitz ability is a great fit for Gregg Williams’s defense. Johnson isn’t going to be a day one starter, but he offers higher upside.
Bryce Hall, Virginia
Bryce Hall has outside CB size at 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds. He’s going to be 22-years-old by Week 1.
Hall’s weak in press and man coverage. He lacks the speed and footwork to be effective against bigger and more athletic targets.
However, Hall makes up for his lack of physical athleticism with his intelligence. Hall is one of the smartest CBs in the draft and it shows on the field.
He’s best in zone coverage where he gets to show off his intelligence and technique. Zone gives Hall the chance to put his good length and great tackling ability to use.
Hall stands out in the run game. He’s a physical tackler who loves contact and makes himself known.
Hall’s best tool though is his leadership ability and infectious personality. His teammates love him for his scrappy play and his physicality on the field.
If the New York Jets want to change the culture in New York with leadership and players with a will to win Hall’s the way to go. He brings a ton of personality on and off the field that made the Jets fall in love with Jamal Adams.
It’s worth noting that Gregg Williams plays a zone heavy scheme that plays to Hall’s abilities. It’s unlikely that Hall will ever become an elite player, but he looks like a future starting CB.
Cameron Dantzler, Mississippi State
Cameron Dantzler comes with the biggest size of these CBs at 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds. That weight isn’t ideal, but Dantzler makes it work due to his athleticism, which is the best in this group.
That said, Dantzler is the rawest member of this group. He’s a former track star who switched to football full-time when he got to college. That has contributed to a lack of technique that’s been hard to fix.
He has stiff hips and he lacks quick-twitch speed and the snap. It’s led to issues covering speedier receivers and he’s been beaten over the top more than once.
Teams are also going to be scared of his weight. Dantzler needs to put on weight if he wants a shot in the NFL. He’s too skinny and that’s not conducive to the press-man CB he projects to be. Teams also don’t know how the added weight would change would affect Dantzler’s speed.
Dantzler is this group’s risk-reward pick. He’s not a day one starter in the league. He likely won’t play more than a couple snaps a game if at all his rookie year. That said, his size and athleticism give hope that he could one day develop his tools and become an elite level CB.
If the New York Jets are looking to a gamble in the third-round just like they did last season with Jachai Polite, Dantzler is the guy to do it with.