With the departure of Donald Strickland and Marquice Cole, the New York Jets have a need to find more depth at the cornerback position. Here are some names to keep an eye on that Gang Green could target in the middle rounds.
1 – Trumaine Johnson, Montana – Of the bunch, Johnson is the least likely to be available past the second round. However his lack of elite top end speed, combined with the fact that he did not play his college football at the highest level of competition could cause him to fall into the early third. Johnson is a very big (6’2” 204 lbs) corner who has reportedly been in for a visit with the Jets. What could make Johnson so appealing to New York would be his ability to play both corner and safety. At 6’2” he certainly has the size to make the transition if necessary, while displaying impressive strength at the combine with 19 reps on the bench press. Johnson would give the Jets their fourth corner, while providing depth at the safety position, something that may be appealing enough for New York to spend their second rounder on him, depending on how everything plays out in front of them. On film, Johnson shows very good ball skills, with above average route recognition. He also played a big role in Montana’s return game, so there are a number of spots he could be utilized at.
2 – Brandon Boykin, Georgia - Boykin had a very impressive career at Georgia with 9 interceptions, 17 passes defended, and 143 tackles in his 4 seasons as a Bulldog. He proved to be very promising during his week of practice leading up to the Senior Bowl, however a leg injury in that game has caused his draft stock to plummet. He was unable to participate in drills at the combine, and his lack of testing numbers, combined with concerns over how healthy his leg will be at the start of the season are causing Boykin to fall down draft boards. However, he could end up being a steal in the third round or later. He shows great range on film, and has proved to be a very versatile weapon, having seen time on both special teams and offense at Georgia.
3 – Jayron Hosley, Virginia Tech - Hosley posted an above average 40 time (4.47), and decent numbers at Virginia Tech last season (59 tackles, 3 INTs, 2 Forced Fumbles). Although these numbers certainly aren’t head turners, they may be a result of his very impressive 2010 campaign. As a sophomore, Hosley had an impressive 9 interceptions and 7 passes defended, so quarterbacks most likely tried to stay away from him the majority of the time last season. At 5’10” 178 lbs, he has decent size and could be a nice fit as the Jets fourth CB, where he could develop tremendously under the tutelage of Darrelle Revis.
4 – Ron Brooks, LSU - Of the five players discussed here, Brooks is easily the most athletic. At 5’10” 190 lbs, he showed tremendous speed at the combine for his weight, running a 4.37 40 yard dash. Brooks had 2 interceptions at LSU last year, both of which were returned for touchdowns. Having played his entire career in the SEC, he has faced some of the best athletes in college football during his 4 years as a Tiger. Although his statistics aren’t mind blowing, Brooks’ elite speed combined with his decent size fit well with his impressive ball skills, giving him the potential to be a quality-starting corner down the road. With the Jets, he has the potential to play as the fourth cornerback right away, while contributing on special teams.
5 – Josh Norman, Coastal Carolina - Norman is an extremely impressive player who has had a very good career at Coastal Carolina (196 Tackles, 35 Passes Defended and 13 Interceptions). He is another big corner (6’0″ 197 lbs) with very impressive stats from a smaller school. He does not possess the elite speed (4.66 40), but like Johnson, his size gives him the versatility to line up at multiple positions in the secondary. He will likely have to improve his speed to be a starter in the future, but he could develop into a solid role player immediately. On film, Norman has arguably the most impressive ball skills out of the five players discussed here. He has remarkable closing speed, showed an excellent ability to locate and make a play on the ball, and displayed tremendous range. Norman also has 4 career blocked kicks, so he could be a special teams contributor right away as well.