The New York Jets traded a 6th round pick to the Indianapolis Colts for cornerback Quincy Wilson during the 2020 NFL Draft. The Jets landed Wilson to continue an in-depth overhaul of a cornerbacks unit that was starved for talent in 2019. Wilson’s journey in the NFL has been a roller coaster and comes to the Jets hoping for a shot to finally prove himself.
The Jets have become a bit of a farm system for Colts defensive players that haven’t fit in. The latest player is Quincy Wilson. The Jets will be looking to see if they can revive his career after a disappointing first 3 seasons. While Wilson’s situation is very low risk, there are some definite potential rewards. Let’s look at how things went wrong with the Colts, how it could go differently with the Jets, and how Wilson fits in the Jets’ defense.
What Went WrongQuincy Wilson had a roller coaster experience with the Colts. He didn’t play much for most of his rookie year in 2017. He came as a young rookie at 20 years old so many believed he was given an “NFL redshirt” to learn his way around the defense and development behind the scenes. He flashed some promising signs towards the end of his rookie season when he was given more opportunities. Wilson believed that could be a building block for his second season.
However, in year two, he wasn’t able pick up where he left off. Wilson sustained a concussion early in the season that kept him out for a few weeks. He was then denied reps and failed to set himself apart from a pack that wasn’t really ultra-talented. Interestingly enough though, when he was given more opportunities towards the end of the season, once again, he played well.
Wilson hoped to finally get a real shot at the starting job in 2019. But last season, the Colts once again rotated cornerbacks and he was often not in that rotation. He then suffered a shoulder injury towards the middle of the season that knocked him out a few weeks once again. Wilson’s story with the Colts has been a mixture of bad fortune and lack of opportunity. It’s understandable why he feels somewhat cheated of a chance to develop. However, he’s coming into a completely new scenario that will be the true crossroads of his career.
What Quincy Wilson really needs right now is reps. The best aspect Wilson has working for him is that he’s still only 23 years old. The Jets trading a pick for him was almost essentially the same as drafting a slightly older rookie. There’s plenty left to figure out with Wilson at this stage in his development but he can’t waste the opportunity.The Jets depth chart at cornerback is completely up in the air. They’ve raised the talent floor of the position significantly but there’s no definitive standout starter yet. Quincy Wilson joins Pierre Desir (also former Colt), Bless Austin, rookie Bryce Hall, Brian Poole, Kyron Brown, and Nate Hairston in the cornerback room. With Poole solidified in the nickel/slot role, Wilson will likely be battling Desir, Austin, Hall, Hairston, and Brown for an outside role. He can be assured he has a legit chance.
Jets defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams, spread out reps last season at cornerback, trying to find combinations that worked. He’ll likely have a similar approach this season. However, Wilson has a bit of a step up on the competition. He played with two solidified starters on defense. At Florida, Wilson played alongside both Marcus Maye and Brian Poole. Their acquaintance began in 2014. Poole left for the NFL after 2015 and Maye and Wilson both left after the 2016 season. The Jets will be hoping that connection can boost Wilson in a way it seemed to do for Brian Poole last season. Poole was coming off of a disappointing tenure with the Falcons but had by far his best season yet in 2019 with the Jets.
Quincy Wilson’s label since college has been as a press man corner. At 6’1″ 211 lbs, he’s a big, physical corner. The biggest concern for him was speed coming into the NFL. Wilson ran a 4.54s 40-time at the combine which didn’t do too much to quell those fears. But there was no denying the instincts and ball skills he showed on tape in college.
The Colts defense prefers corners with zone coverage ability. The Jets defense is a bit more man coverage leaning but mainly prefers opportunistic, aggressive corners. Wilson, on paper, is a better fit in the Jets defense. While there remains concern with Wilson’s ability to cover deep routes against real speed, he’s strong tracking and diagnosing underneath, when he can keep things in front of him. This is where Wilson showed his few flashes with the Colts. He’s also not afraid to hit which will no doubt endear him to the coaching staff and the fans. Wilson’s familiarity with Marcus Maye could also help him be more comfortable with downfield exchanges to guard against big plays.
Quincy Wilson was a highly touted prospect coming into the NFL but things didn’t go as planned in his first stop. He has an incredible opportunity here with the Jets to catch a second wind under a coach who, I believe, can better utilize his skillset. Let’s see if more reps will truly result in big steps forward in Wilson’s development. If he can stay healthy, he’s definitely going to get his chance.