Jets Positional Analysis: Cornerbacks

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First a few updates:

1. The Jets signed free agent tackle Nevin McCaskill today. He has bounced around the Bills, Packers, and Eagles practice squad the past couple of seasons. Exciting stuff…

2. Check out Brian Bassett’s response to Mike Florio’s recent biased Jets bashing over at Pro Football Talk here…(http://www.thejetsblog.com/2009/07/06/in-which-i-trash-lazy-hot-seat-conjecture-from-mike-florio/)  – Good work Bassett. Florio has done a nice job over at PFT but his tiring, baseless Jets bashing hurts his credibility. I don’t know what his story is, maybe some Jets fans took his lunch money when he was a little kid or something.

3. There has been some talk about ESPN’s Adam Schefter’s twitters about Vernon Gholston, claiming he struggled in OTAs. First off, it is OTA’s…how much can a pass rusher struggle in practice without pads? Second, I will take the word of the Jets beat writers who were at every available practice and said Gholston had a decent mini-camp/OTA’s over Schefter who was probably at one practice.

Jets Positional Analysis: Cornerbacks

Over the next 6 weeks, I am going to go through all of the Jets positions and assess each player, continuing today with the cornerbacks:

1. Darrelle “Young Lockdown” Revis #24, Last Season: 58 tackles, 5 Interceptions, 16 passes defensed, 1 touchdown, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble.

History: Revis was the Jets first round pick in 2007 and instantly made them look smart for drafting him. After an impressive rookie campaign, Revis took his game to the next level last year by becoming a pro-bowl player. He made his share of big plays in the limited number of balls thrown his way and consistently matched-up with the other team’s best receiver, predominantly with good results.

Chance of Making Roster: 100%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Revis keeps getting better and becomes an all-pro player. He proves to be a lock down corner in his battles against Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Lee Evans, Andre Johnson, and Steve Smith. Revis also continues to make big plays, matching or exceeding his interception total from the previous year.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: Revis struggles against his high level of competition this season, keeping the Jets pass defense vulnerableor he suffers an injury.

Prediction: Revisis a great player and I don’t see him regressing from last season. I think his numbers will be comparable to last year, if not slightly higher and he will hold his own against the top flight receivers he faces this year.

2. Lito Sheppard #26, Last Season: 21 tackles, 1 interception, 4 passes defensed, 1 forced fumble

History: Sheppard was a pro-bowl corner for the Eagles in both 2004 and 2006, showing a knack for making big plays and being able to match-up with big time receivers. However, he has struggled with injuries the previous two years and was moved to nickel back last season when Philly signed Asante Samuel. The Jets are hoping Sheppard can rejuvenate his career in New York and provide a stable player opposite Darrelle Revis.

Chance of Making Roster: 100%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Sheppard returns to his 2006 form and is able to handle the high amount of balls thrown his way, giving the Jets one of the best cornerback duos in the NFL.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: Sheppard struggles with injuries and inconsistent play again, leaving the Jets vulnerable on the other side of Revis.

Prediction: I can’t lie, I am worried about Sheppard. I think when he is on the field he will be able to hold his own and be an upgrade from what they had last year but I think you will see him miss a few games with injury and struggle a little bit early season when offenses are constantly coming after him.

3. Donald Strickland, #27, Last Season: 38 tackles, 1 forced fumble, 5 passes defensed

History: Strickland is a 7 year veteran who has been a solid nickelback the past couple of seasons for the 49ers. The Jets signed him to provide some competition with Dwight Lowery for the nickel spot and to provide some more experience to the secondary.

Chance of Making Roster: 90%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Strickland provides the Jets good depth and plays well in the nickel packages. He is also able to step in and do an adequate job if Sheppard or Revis goes down for a few weeks.

Wost Case Scenario for 2009: Strickland struggles in training camp and is buried on the depth chart or eventually cut.

Prediction: I think Strickland and Dwight Lowery will be splitting the nickelback role based on certain situations or match-ups. Based on his career, you can’t expect many big plays from Strickland but if he could be an upgrade from Drew Coleman in the slot last season it will improve the Jets pass defense.

4. Dwight Lowery #21, Last Season: 64 tackles, 1 interception, 16 passes defensed, 5 forced fumbles

History: Lowery was the Jets fourth round pick last season and managed to be their starting cornerback by week one. He began the season strongly but started to struggle around the middle of the year and was replaced in the starting line-up by mid-season acquisition Ty Law. Lowery showed a great nose for the ball however with 5 forced fumbles and 16 passes defense. Despite lacking top end speed, he showed a good deal of potential last season.

Chance of Making Roster: 90%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Lowery improves from last season and develops into a very good nickel back for the Jets and somebody who can eventually take over for Lito Sheppard. He continues to force turnovers.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: He regresses from last year and struggles to adjust to Rex Ryan’s new scheme. Lowery turns into nothing more than a special teams player, after starting for the first half of his rookie season.

Prediction: Ryan will find a role for Lowery on defense as a #3/#4 corner and maybe an extra safety in a few sets. He will also be a valuable core special teams player.

5. Drew “Toast” Coleman #30, Last Season: 23 tackles, 6 passes defensed

History: Coleman was the Jets 6th round pick in 2006 and actually developed into a starter mid-way through the season. However, he eventually lost the job and had his role diminished in 2007. He was only active for 9 games last season but the games he did play in, he was usually the Jets nickelback. Unfortunately, he made a habit of getting beat like a drum in the slot especially against the Bills and 49ers.

Chance of Making Roster: 40-50%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Coleman becomes a valuable reserve and plays in some of the Jets dime packages. He remains a quality special teams player.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: He struggles in training camp and is cut before the year starts…and is obviously signed by Eric Mangini a day later.

Prediction: Unless the Jets keep 6 corners, it will be hard for Coleman to make the roster.

6. Ahmad Carroll #31, Last Season: 20 tackles, 2 forced fumbles

History: A former first round pick, who has struggled in NFL. The Jets took a shot on him last year and he turned into a very good special teams player for them. He was re-signed this year to continue in that role, with some hope that Rex Ryan can find some use for him at either corner or safety.

Chance of Making Roster: 50-60%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: He remains a very good special teams player and contributes as a backup corner/safety combo.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: He is cut before the season begins.

Prediction: I think Carroll will make the roster, remain a core special teams player and develop into good backup safety/corner for the Jets. He has the talent to be a defensive player in this league.

The Rest of the Guys

7. Marquice Cole #34 – A UDFA who bounced around the league last season…extra body for training camp.

8. Rashad Barksdale #35 – See above, although he has good size (6’5, 208 lbs).

Overall Position Analysis: Revis is a top flight corner in the NFL, Sheppard will start opposite him with Lowery and Strickland as the top backups battling for reps. Carroll should make the team because of his special teams ability and potential. Coleman is probably the odd man out, unless the Jets keep 6 CBs.

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