New York Jets – The Current State Of Cornerback

Matt Gianesses with an overview of the New York Jets cornerback position…

Matt Gianesses on the CBs most likely to make the New York Jets 53-man roster and the current overall state of the position…

The Jets initial 53-man roster in 2019 consisted of 5 cornerbacks -Trumaine Johnson, Darryl Roberts, Brian Poole, Nate Hairston, and Arthur Maulet. A litany of Injuries and poor play resulted in the position becoming a revolving door. Given the many uncertainties entering the 2020 season, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Jets hold on to 6 CB’s. Jets Defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams, loves players that can be moved around the field (like chess pieces), and in my opinion, the following 7 players are the most likely to fit that description. Here is the information you need to know about the Jets CB room.

Pierre Desir

At 29, Desir is the oldest of the group. Desir was a Cleveland Brown afterthought by year 3, and he was scooped up by the Indianapolis Colts. Desir had a very strong bounce back in 2018, establishing himself as the Colts’ CB1 and earning a 3-year, $22.5 million extension. Desir had a poor 2019, partly due to an array of injuries and a new defensive scheme. The Colts opted out after one year of the extension, and Joe Douglas was quick to pounce on him for a very safe 1 year, 5.5M.  Desir is a low risk, high reward veteran player for the Jets. He runs a respectable 4.59 40-yard dash and is the presumptive top outside CB on the roster. He is known for his high character and positive locker room presence, (A trait Joe Douglas repetitively looked for this offseason).

Measurables: 6-1, 192 pounds

Quincy Wilson

To the surprise of many, the Jets traded the 211th pick of this year’s NFL draft to (guess who) the Indianapolis Colts for Quincy Wilson. Wilson, who is only 23 years old, was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2017 NFL draft. Just 7 picks after his Florida teammate, Marcus Maye. Many Jets fans yelled at the TV for Wilson to be the pick at #39. Now they have both him and Maye. Wilson had a promising first two years in the league, but like Desir, struggled mightily in 2019 after a Colts scheme change. Wilson plays best in a press-man coverage system, and Gregg Williams will look to maximize his potential in 2020. Don’t be surprised if Wilson is starting across Desir by the end of the season.

Measurables: 6-2, 193 pounds

Blessuan Austin

Austin was the Jets 6th round choice in 2019. The Queens native and Rutgers alumni quickly became a fan favorite on the backend of last season. Austin boasted a very impressive 87.5 PFF grade through his first five games of the year before being benched by Gregg Williams for allowing a touchdown in week 16. Connor Hughes of the Athletic, believes that fans may be too high on Austin. “I don’t get the sense the Jets are as high on Austin as many fans. That it seemed it to take just one play for Gregg Williams to throw him in the doghouse, despite the Jets massive issues at corner”. Although Austin’s benching raised some eyebrows, including mine, I believe the 23-year old will be a big contributor for the Jets defense in 2020. Austin has the idea physical makeup and intangibles of a great cornerback. If it weren’t for his two torn ACLs at Rutgers, Austin may have much earlier than the 5th round.

Measurables: 6-1, 198 pounds

Brian Poole

The best cornerback on the roster happens to play the slot. Brian Poole was one of-if not the best slot CBs of 2019. Playing a position where penalties are commonplace, Poole allowed just 2 yards in penalties all season, despite playing 749 defensive snaps. Poole was drafted by Atlanta in 2016 out of Florida. To Falcon fan’s dismay, Poole signed a prove it deal with the Jets in 2019. In March, he resigned with the Jets on a team friendly, 1 year, $5 million contract. Poole is only 27, and if he has a similar season to last, he will be highly coveted in free agency yet again.

Measurables: 5-10, 213 pounds

Arthur Maulet

Maulet started 6 of the last 8 games of the 2019 season at CB for the Jets. While he was far from perfect, he held his own when given the opportunity. Maulet has proven to be solid, already has played a year in Gregg Williams system, and is only 26 years old. These are all reasons why he makes a great candidate for a depth spot on the 53-man roster. Also, Maulet is a cool last name.

Measurables: 5-10 ,190 pounds

Bryce Hall

To me, Hall is the most intriguing player in the CB room. A projected first/second round pick after the 2018 season, Hall opted to play one more year at Virginia. Unfortunately, his year was cut short by an ankle injury, inevitably affecting his draft stock. Hall fell to the Jets in the fifth round of this year’s NFL draft. I was shocked to see him fall past round three. Like Desir, Hall is a high character, high motor player. Hall, a captain at the University of Virginia, has been labeled the “steal of the draft” by many. If the Jets plan comes to fruition, Hall will be one of the starting outside CBs by 2021.

Measurables: 6-1, 202 pounds

Nate Hairston

Hairston was a fifth-round pick by the Colts in 2017. Like Quincy Wilson, Jets GM Joe Douglas traded a 6thround pick to the Colts for Hairston’s services last year. Hairston had a strong Jets-debut against Cleveland in 2019, but he regressed throughout the season. Hairston lost his starting job to Blessuan Austin & Arthur Maulet by season’s end, which could be telling on what the Jets intentions actually are with him. Hairston will likely be a depth player or a training camp cut by August.

Measurables: 6-0, 185 pounds

Honorable mention: Lamar Jackson

UDFA from Nebraska. 22 years old. Measurables: 6-2 208

It feels like every member of the Jets secondary was a Florida Gator or Indianapolis Colt at one point or another.

4/7 of the players listed above were not on the Jets 53-man at the beginning of last season. The cornerback group desperately needed a revamp. Joe Douglas would be the first to tell you that the job is not done, but I expect the group to play better than they did last year.