The New York Jets traded cornerback Darrelle Revis to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on April 22nd, 2013. Since then, the Jets have never gotten things right at the position. Dee Milliner was a bust. Darrin Walls and Marcus Williams were band-aids and Juston Burris never worked out after a promising rookie year. The return of Revis with Antonio Cromartie in 2015 was fun for a season until 2016 when Cromartie was released and Revis was a shell of his former four-time All-Pro self. And now that the Buster Skrine era has ended, let’s take a look at who Gregg Williams has to work with for 2019.
In this edition of the 2019 New York Jets Preview series, let’s review who the Jets will have trying to stop the star receivers they will face this upcoming season.
2019 New York Jets Preview: Cornerbacks
The Starters: Trumaine Johnson (CB1), Darryl Roberts (CB2), and Brian Poole (SLCB)
Let’s be honest. The Jets do not boast an elite group at the corner position. However, they could be better than made out to be.
After a poor 2018 season, Trumaine Johnson is set to live up to his contract this season. Starting his career with the Los Angeles Rams, Johnson broke out in 2015 with seven interceptions through 14 games. And his defensive coordinator? None other than Gregg Williams. The 6-2 and 213-pound seasoned veteran should return to his Rams form in 2019 with Williams at the helm. That lockdown bump-and-run, aggressive play is exactly what the Jets needed from him last season. Hopefully, he will show up this season.
With a good Trumaine Johnson as their number one corner, it will be huge for whoever is opposite of him. With no other additions of an outside corner, the Jets made their faith in Darryl Roberts clear. The Jets signed the former New England Patriots pick to a three-year and $18-million deal this offseason after a solid performance as a 10-game starter. He even came up huge with injuries to Marcus Maye and Johnson by filling in at corner and safety. This value combined with consistently improving performance is why the team has faith in Roberts’ ability.
Lastly, the Jets finally saw the end to the Buster Skrine era. One that was full of ups, downs, and penalties at the worst of times. That left the one question – who is going to be the team’s slot corner? Enter Brian Poole. The former Atlanta Falcons swiss army knife can line up at corner, safety, or linebacker depending on the formation. Williams will love having Poole not just as a slot corner, but being able to move him all over the field.
As said earlier, the Jets do not have an elite cornerback position. It is debatable whether or not it even resides in the middle of the pack compared to the rest of the league. Johnson has never made a Pro Bowl yet is the tenth highest paid corner in the league according to Spotrac. Not to mention his injury history. Darryl Roberts enters only his fourth season, will be 29 in December, and still remains relatively inexperienced with just 16 starts in his career. Poor play or injuries could force the undersized Poole to the outside – where he has struggled against bigger receivers. If there is any chance of the Jets making the playoffs in 2019, they need this group to perform well.
The Backups: Blessuan Austin
New York is thin at corner. It is as simple as that. Blessuan Austin will be the only lock to remain on the roster. The 196th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft could be a future steal. At 6-1 and 198-pounds, Austin was once thought of as a future early pick, until knee injuries in back-to-back seasons derailed his hype. Austin will be used carefully because of his durability concerns. Nevertheless, between his size and footwork, if Austin can bulk up, he might be a future cornerstone for Gang Green.
The Bubble: Parry Nickerson, Jeremy Clark, Derrick Jones, Arthur Maulet, Tevaughn Campbell, Kyron Brown, Montrel Meander, and Mark Myers
One would have to imagine the Jets move some pieces around at corner between now and the start of the season. Meaning, a lot of these guys will be fighting for practice squad opportunities if anything. Now, who exactly are these players?
Three have spent time with the Jets roster and are former draft selections. Parry Nickerson is a former sixth-round pick from 2018. Playing in all 16 games, he showed promise as a future slot corner with ball hawking ability. That does not mean that he is perfect, as there is plenty of room to grow, especially with his small frame. Jeremy Clark and Derrick Jones are former sixth-round picks from 2017. Neither has spent much time on the field, either being injured or on the practice squad. They both do have size and are still very young.
Ultimately, there is just an overall lack of experience here amongst the remaining five players. Arthur Maulet comes in entering his third season out of Memphis at slot corner. He spent time with the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints since 2017, with 12 games under his belt. He brings speed to the slot for the Jets. Just like Mark Myers. Myers is a 2018 undrafted free agent with ball-hawking talent and good speed. Both are slot corners likely fighting for a practice squad spot with Poole and Nickerson ahead of them.
Along with Maulet and Myers are three outside corners. Kyron Brown needs to add muscle to his frame and does need to fix some parts of his game. With his aggressive playing style and football IQ, Brown is the perfect kind of player for a Gregg Williams defense. Tevaughn Campbell brings top speed from the CFL at age 25. While he does not have the largest of frames, he plays a physical enough game to succeed in the NFL. Lastly is Montrel Meander, who the Jets claimed from waivers. With size to his advantage at 6-2 and 215-pounds, he spent time under Gregg Williams last season with the Cleveland Browns practice squad.
Last Word on the 2019 New York Jets Preview: Cornerbacks
The Jets need Trumaine Johnson and company to play to their potential in 2019. If they perform the way Gregg Williams will look for them to every week, then playoffs are not so far off for Gang Green. Austin should be a sleeper to watch as the season goes on, and look for the Jets to sign another veteran before the season starts to add experience.
Stay tuned for the next article in the 2019 New York Jets Preview series with safeties!
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