The Jets added Brandin Echols to the secondary via the 2021 draft’s sixth round — what exact role could he take on?
Every team requires reliable depth in the defensive backfield — it’s arguably the most important area of the field when it comes to that concept.
Echols will have plenty of work to put in and plenty of coaches to impress, and it’s not even confirmed he’ll make the final roster. But if the rookie does achieve that notable task, what overall role could he assume?
Versatility is present
One of the strengths of Echols’ play is his versatility — it’s likely a reason the Jets decided to utilize one of their 10 draft picks on him.
During his collegiate tenure with Kentucky, Echols spent time at both the outside cornerback spot as well as in the slot.
Thanks to Michael Nania of Jets X-Factor, we actually have the snap distributions — Echols played 77% of his 2020 defensive reps on the outside and 15.8% in the slot. It’s interesting to point out he additionally saw time at inside linebacker (4.3% of his 2020 defensive reps), but given his lack of significant size (5-foot-10, 175 pounds), it’s unlikely he’ll exclusively take on that type of role in the pros.
This on-field experience in numerous spots would help the Jets be creative with him on the defensive side of the ball. It’d also make it easier for him to locate a role if he were to climb the depth charts, considering he’s not limited to one specific skill set.
Slot corner depth?
Echols is just like fellow Jets defensive rookies Hamsah Nasirildeen, Michael Carter II, Jonathan Marshall, Jason Pinnock, and Jamien Sherwood, in a sense he could initially find himself as more of a depth piece and special teams weapon.
As for the defensive side of the ball, Echols’ path to finding legitimate playing time at some point down the road might be easier via the slot corner position.
The pair of outside corner roles are loaded with bodies on the depth chart. Bless Austin and Bryce Hall may be the two starters while Corey Ballentine, Jackson Bennett, Pinnock, Carter II, and Lamar Jackson could provide depth.
Echols and Javelin Guidry might be working at the main nickel corner position if the Jets were to provide the former with this type of role. Doing so would also make sense — the team could place Echols in the slot to ease him into the system and the role would potentially suit him well given his physicality (54 combined tackles for Kentucky in both 2019 and 2020).