jamien sherwood jets
Syndication: The Record

The Jets could field 2021 fifth-round draft pick Jamien Sherwood at a number of spots. What exact role could he assume?

Ryan Honey

After the Jets focused on the offensive side of the ball with their first four draft picks this offseason (and reasonably so — Gang Green was 32nd in total yards and points last year), the organization went defense the rest of the way. General manager Joe Douglas utilized his final six selections on a unit that wasn’t too strong either in 2020.

The first of the six selections (No. 146 overall in the fifth round) was used on Auburn’s Jamien Sherwood, a hybrid linebacker/safety who proved to be a productive tackler at the collegiate level.

He’ll look to add depth to a Jets defensive unit that needs it at multiple spots. What exact role could he assume? Will he start?

The versatility is present

One of Sherwood’s main strengths (and what could assist in him succeeding in the NFL) is his sheer on-field versatility. Head coach Robert Saleh and defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich could use him as more of a dynamic weapon in a number of situations.

At 6-foot-2, 216 pounds, Sherwood sports a good enough size to portray his athleticism in the defensive backfield but carries the run-stopping abilities to produce up in the box.

It’s clear the Jets preferred defensive bodies like this in the draft — sixth-rounder Hamsah Nasirildeen additionally employs this type of playstyle and fifth-round cornerback Jason Pinnock lined up as an outside linebacker at times for Pitt.

What exact spots could be necessary for Sherwood?

The Jets will likely be running a 4-3 scheme with C.J. Mosley manning the middle of the field and free-agent pickup Jarrad Davis spending time at one of the two outside linebacker spots.

The other outside linebacker role could be held by Blake Cashman and might actually be to commence the season. In the event that that’s the case, expect Sherwood and Nasirildeen to possibly be behind Cashman on the depth chart and work to surpass him.

Sherwood greatly produced in the tackling department during his 2020 junior season (75 combined tackles, 44 solo), so the run-stopping abilities are certainly present for him to succeed up near the line of scrimmage in this role.

But given the aforementioned versatility, fans could also see Sherwood as another safety in nickel packages.

The Jets might be set at the two main starting safety spots — Marcus Maye is one of the top young safeties in the NFL and veteran Lamarcus Joyner (if he earns the role) provides the necessary mentorship and has succeeded more in the deeper part of the secondary.

When certain defensive packages call for an extra safety, the Jets may give Sherwood the nod. However, he’ll definitely need to outperform some of the alternative options (Nasirildeen, Ashtyn Davis, Sharrod Neasman, etc.).

Is an immediate starting role en route?

Anything is possible for the rookie.

But as far as a starting job is concerned, that may need to wait — the Jets might feel more comfortable starting Cashman and Joyner at their respective spots to begin the season.

Work will need to be put in and impressions will need to be made. Until notable responsibility is provided to Sherwood, expect the 21-year-old to locate reps on special teams and be a situational depth piece.