Where exactly could the Jets coaching staff field 2021 sixth-round pick Hamsah Nasirildeen this coming season?
Versatility can be crucial in the NFL.
Thankfully, Jets sixth-round pick Hamsah Nasirildeen possesses that important quality and saw time as both a linebacker and safety during his collegiate tenure at Florida State. It’s likely one of the more significant reasons as to why New York selected him this past May.
But the Jets are already moving Nasirildeen to a linebacking role at the professional level, a decision that intrigues the young player.
Hamsah is fired up to play LB 🗣 pic.twitter.com/uywsPPMXAN
— New York Jets (@nyjets) May 15, 2021
“I feel like when I was at Florida State, one of the best parts of my game was when we had our rotation come down into the box. That was when I felt really comfortable” Nasirildeen told the Jets official website in May. “Just having the opportunity to do that all the time and make that full-time transition, I definitely feel good about it.”
So now that it’s been established Hamsah will be seeing more time up near the line of scrimmage, what may his rookie season look like? What could his exact role be?
An initial backup
The Jets likely won’t (and shouldn’t) start Nasirildeen right away.
Given he’s a sixth-round pick, it’s clear he’ll require time to develop and become accustomed to the league.
This is especially the case when you consider his position change. He’ll be making the transition to linebacker after he spent 12.8% of his 2020 defensive snaps at inside linebacker and 5.3% at outside linebacker (snap splits courtesy of Jet X-Factor’s Michael Nania).
For context, Nasirildeen spent 42.3% of his defensive reps at free safety.
Hamsah needs to get up to speed, and that may not be a quick process.
Starter down the road?
Nasirildeen isn’t expected to earn a starting job over C.J. Mosley or Jarrad Davis (barring any injury-related issues).
Mosley still carries the potential to be a top player on this defense despite playing just two games combined over the last two years and the Jets invested in Davis when they acquired him on a $5.5 million deal this offseason.
However, there’s a chance Nasirildeen could give Blake Cashman a run for his money when it comes to one of the two outside linebacker spots in a 4-3 scheme (if Cashman starts).
Cashman mainly struggled over the course of the 11 games he partook in the last two years. Not to mention, he’s one of the guys that wasn’t acquired by this current Joe Douglas regime, which may not be beneficial for his long-term future in Florham Park.
The competition at OLB
If Cashman commences the season as a starting outside linebacker but is on a short leash, Nasirildeen wouldn’t be the lone individual who could eventually take his spot.
Fellow rookie linebacker Jamien Sherwood, who the Jets took in this year’s fifth round, will additionally compete for playing time.
Also, don’t forget 2020 third-round pick Jabari Zuniga, who could locate reps at outside linebacker as well. He’s looking to make significant improvements in his second season after an injury-ridden rookie campaign led to him appearing in just eight games last year.