New York Jets NFL Draft 2018 – Round by Round: Cornerback

Daniel Mosher with prospective cornerback targets for the New York Jets in rounds three through seven…

With just over two weeks until the NFL Draft, Daniel Mosher takes a look at potential cornerback’s the New York Jets can target in rounds three through seven.

What a shame! Mike Maccagnan hated my Round Two Tuesday write-up’s so much that he decided to trade away enough picks to ensure that my Two’sday puns stayed locked up until 2020.

A little extra if you ask me; but touché, Mike.

So without picks 37 and 49, not only did we lose some premier #content, but the Jets may have lost two potential impact players. This makes the middle and late rounds even more critical for the team, as they look to add some pieces around a new franchise quarterback.

This also creates the opportunity for a new (and albeit, less punny) segment: Round by Round. Over the next two weeks, I’ll go through the Jets’ biggest positional needs, pegging a prospect for each round that could be a potential fit. This week, we’re talkin’ cornerbacks!

Much like last year — despite the Jets walking away with just two Day Three fliers — the 2018 NFL Draft Class offers a robust cornerback market. Let’s take a look at some options the Jets could target to fill out their secondary depth.

Round 3 – M.J. Stewart, North Carolina

Man, oh man I love this player. Unfortunately for the Jets, he is becoming less and less of a secret as the days go on and his round two buzz grows. There is though still the chance that the versatile corner finds his way into round three, and if he does the Jets should pounce.

Stewart plays with the physical bite that Todd Bowles wants in his corners. To me, he’s just a very well-rounded prospect. He rarely gets beat off of press, contributes in the run game, is solid in off-man and offers starting potential both inside and outside.

It would be a surprise to see any rookie corner crack a top three starting position ahead of Trumaine Johnson, Morris Claiborne or Buster Skrine. However, the Jets need to plan for the future; it’s highly likely that only Johnson is around next year, and that none of them are left in 2020.

Round 4 – Isaac Yiadom, Boston College

Much like Stewart, this would be a great value pick for the Jets as I can see Yiadom sneaking into the back of round three. Yiadom fits the exact mold of a Bowles corner, coming in at 6’1″ with 32 1/4″ arms, and the press physicality that TB covets.

Throughout his time at Boston College, and particularly in his last two seasons, he steadily improved his skills both in coverage and in the run game. According to PFF, Yiadom graded out at 83.6 in his final season at BC and through three seasons allowed an NFL Passer Rating of just 77.

Yiadom is a special teams ace, and would offer instant starting ability on teams, with the chance to grow into a starting outside cornerback as early as next season.

Round 5 – Holton Hill, Texas

To me, there is no reason for Hill to fall this far, but I’ve found myself to be a lot more forgiving of players off the field maturity issues than the NFL Brass so I could realistically picture a slide into Day Three for Hill.

Remove the suspensions and outside issues and Hill is an early Day Two prospect. If the Jets feel they can offer a solid situation for the player — and there’s nothing that makes me think they can’t — they would be foolish not to grab Hill at this point in the draft.

Hill has the skillset to play in any scheme, but would excel as the prototype outside press corner in Bowles’ defense. After not allowing a single touchdown in the 2017 season, Hill amassed a PFF grade of 87 and allowed an NFL Passer Rating of just 48.1 to opposing quarterbacks.

Aside from the maturity concerns, Hill would still need to refine his technique if he’s going to thrive at the next level; he’s a true boom or bust pick who could light up the league if he puts in the work.

Round 6 – Michael Joseph, Dubuque 

I’d have to scroll through Pro Football Reference to be sure, but I can’t think of many other players coming out of Dubuque that have been successful on Sundays.

As with any small school prospect, the main thing I look for is the ability to dominate the lower level of competition. Joseph was an absolute beast in his time at Dubuque. Over 31 games Joseph amassed 168 Tackles, 35 PD’s and 15 INT’s. He also played quite well during Senior Bowl week, proving that he could hold his own against NFL level competition.

Joseph is a raw prospect but has the size, athleticism and natural ball skills to make a coach believe in his potential after a few seasons of learning.

Round 7 – Blaise Taylor, Arkansas State

Most of the guys listed above would be great value picks for the Jets, and may not last to the rounds I have them pegged. Taylor on the other hand, is projected to be an un-drafted free agent, but I say, go get him and avoid the PFA madness.

At 5’9″, Taylor  wouldn’t offer much on the defensive side of the ball; but with any seventh round pick, they’ll earn their stripes on teams and Taylor has the chance to end the dreadful string of Punt Returners that the Jets have tried to trot out over the last few years. Taylor finished in the top-10 in yards per punt return in 2017, at 12.3 yards. He also broke off a return touchdown in each of his four seasons.

If the Jets defense is able to live up to expectations, the ability to flip the field on a punt return is going to be critical for the team’s offensive pursuits. Don’t be surprised to see the team target a return specialist with this final selection.

Photo Credit: NFL.com