The New York Jets will enter 2017 with a revamped secondary as the team decided to draft safeties Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye with their first two picks in the 2017 NFL Draft. While the Jets safeties weren’t the weakest links in 2016, they certainty weren’t the strongest either. Calvin Pryor and Marcus Gilchrist got the majority of snaps at safety with Rontez Miles mostly backing them up.
New York Jets Safeties End of Season Review
Pryor’s play in 2016 was a big reason why the Jets went for two safeties so early in the draft. Pryor was drafted by the Jets 18th overall in the 2014 NFL Draft.
His first season wasn’t great, but understandable. He was a rookie playing out of position because of the Jets weak secondary. Pro Football Focus gave him 77.5 rating for his work in 16 games (11 starts) which actually ranked him as the 34th best safety out of 87.
After the Jets signed Gilchrist in 2015, Pryor was able to return to his natural position of strong safety. This seemed to pay off as he took a step forward in 13 games (12 starts) for the Jets. He had two interceptions, six passes defended, one forced fumble, 50 tackles, and 19 assisted tackles. Aside from the assisted tackles, all his numbers in 2015 were better than his numbers in 2014. However, he was given a 77.0 rating and was ranked the 35th best safety out of 87 by Pro Football Focus which were both slightly worse than the year before.
To some, Pryor’s 2015 season was still viewed as an improvement. This step forward was one of the reasons Brian Costello of the New York Post figured Pryor had a legitimate shot at becoming a Pro Bowler in 2016.
“It feels like Pryor is on the verge of becoming a top player at his position,” wrote Costello in one of his articles from July 2016. “If he makes as big of a jump in 2016 as he made in 2015, the Pro Bowl is a possibility.”
Pryor did not make the Pro Bowl in 2016. Furthermore, he took a step back in a year where it was expected that he would take a step forward. He finished the season with no interceptions, six passes defended, one forced fumble, 43 tackles, and 17 assisted tackles. Pro Football Focus gave him a 68.7 rating which classified him as below average for the first time according to their rating system. They also ranked him as the 74th best safety out of 90 which was a big step back compared to his rankings in 2014 and 2015.
Pryor’s play clearly displeased the Jets organization. That was shown with their first two draft picks as already mentioned. It was also apparent as there were reports that the Jets were trying to trade him during the draft.
In 2016, Gilchrist was entering his sixth NFL season and second with the Jets. When the Jets signed him towards the beginning of free agency in 2015, they knew they were getting an average safety who can give some help to Pryor.
According to Pro Football Focus, 2015 was the best year of his career, but not by much. He was given a 79.1 rating in 2015. That was better than his 71.1 rating in 2014 and slightly better than his 78.7 rating in 2014.
In 2016 he took a slight step back according to their standards. He received a rating of 77.1 for 2016. It shows how consistent he has been since playing the majority of his snaps at safety starting in 2013.
Gilchrist finished the 2016 season with two interceptions, three passes defended, one forced fumble, 38 tackles, and 15 assisted tackles in 13 games (all starts).
Miles was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Jets in 2013. He did not get much playing time until 2015 when he played in nine games and started one.
Miles took a more prominent role as a backup in 2016. He played in all 16 games and started four of them. He finished with two forced fumbles, 31 tackles, and 18 assisted tackles.
Miles played in 37.93 percent of the defensive snaps on the season. His majority of work came on special teams however, as he played in 74.61 percent of those snaps.
Some other Jets who played safety in a limited amount of snaps were Doug Middleton, Antonio Allen, and Ronald Martin. They only played in 3.96 percent, 0.77 percent, and 0.29 percent of defensive snaps, respectively. They all had more playing team at special teams, however.