What Can We Do At The Cornerback Position?

The Jets have taken a lot of heat for not signing a suitable replacement for Antonio Cromartie, so what can we do about it.

Even though the Jets have signed very few free agents so far this year, it seems as though the news has been non-stop. As such we haven't really had too much time to really take a step back, look at the roster and evaluate where we are, where we need to be and how we can get there. So unless the Michael Vick signing gets completed ahead of schedule, we should have a little time over the next 12 hours or so to really look at the situation.

First I just want to make it clear that I don't have a clue what we are going to do, and right now I don't have a clear idea in my head what we should do. I still have faith in Idzik and his philosophy of sustained success over the next 10 years. However on the conference call with the New York Media, he did specify that the Jets were also in a win now situation. So you have to think we are looking at every single possibility out there to improve this team, as long as the terms fit.

Current Depth Chart at Cornerback

#1 - Dee Milliner

#2 - Darrin Walls

#3 - Kyle Wilson

#4 - Johnny Patrick

#5 - Ellis Lankster

#6 - Ras-I Dowling

#7 - Lowell Rose

- Does anyone really want to go into the season with that line-up? I didn't think so. Dee Milliner had some growing pains last season, and you would expect him to get better. However expect isn't the same as a guarantee, he could show no improvement, that's a possibility. So if your number one corner gives up 7 touchdowns and 770 yards in 747 snaps, you're in trouble. Walls was actually OK last year, in his limited snaps (297) he actually did a good job. However he was exploited at times, and if you ask him to play over 1000 snaps, you have to imagine he'll hit a wall at some point. Wilson was one of the best nickel corners in the league, so moving him outside where he has historically struggled would be a terrible idea. Patrick is a good depth guy, Lankster is a good special teamer and Ras-I Dowling and Rose are largely giant question marks.

In conclusion, if we go into the season with that depth chart at cornerback, we are in some serious trouble in my opinion. However does anyone really expect us to go into the season with that depth chart? I certainly don't.

Here Are The Players We Could Have Had

Player Old Team New Team Contract
Darrelle Revis Tampa Bay New England 1 Year / 12 million
Alterraun Verner Titans Tampa Bay 4 Year / 26.5 million (14 Guaranteed)
Vontae Davis Colts Colts 4 Year / 39 million (20 Guaranteed
Aqib Talib Patriots Broncos 6 Year / 57 million (26 Guaranteed)
DRC Broncos Giants 5 Year / 39 million (14 Guaranteed)
Antonio Cromatie Jets Cardinals 1 Year (No details Yet)
Charles Tillman Bears Bears 1 Year / 3.4 million
Captain Munnerlyn Panthers Vikings 3 Year / 15 million (7 Guaranteed)
Walter Thurmond Seahawks Giants 1 Year / 3.5 million
Brandon Browner Seahawks Patriots 3 Year /17 Million (1 Guaranteed)

Who Is Left In Free Agency

Player Old Team
Champ Bailey Denver Broncos
Carlos Rogers San Francisco 49'ers
Jabari Greer New Orleans Saints
Terrell Thomas New York Giants
Asante Samuel Atlanta Falcons
Drayton Florence Carolina Panthers
Dimitri Patterson Miami Dolphins

Talk about slim pickings, and that's not just a restaurant in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Would any of these players make the Jets a better team? Champ Bailey will be 36 by the time the season kicks off and he played just 193 snaps last year, would he be a good mentor for Milliner? perhaps but come on man! Carlos Rogers is an interesting option, according to PFF he played in 1068 snaps last year, allowed just 2 touchdowns while picking off 2 passes and having 4 pass defences. He'll be 33, but if needs must, he may be an option late in free agency.

At the end of the day, apparently the Jets showed a lot of interest in some of the players already signed and at least had some interest in nearly all of them. Rumour was they wanted Davis but $20 million in guaranteed $$'s is a lot of money. DRC was the main man who came in for a visit, but 5 years $39 million with $14 guaranteed for a man who is as highly inconsistent as he is, personally I think Idzik made the right move not to pull the trigger on that one. I have no idea how the Patriots got Browner on a contract that guaranteed just $1 million. The Verner contract looks like a good one for the Bucs, I have to admit, just the $14 million in guaranteed money.

I'm sure there are some trade possibilities out there, but getting a starting calibre corner will likely cost you, and by cost you I mean draft picks.

Looking At The Draft?

Last year we selected Dee Milliner with our first pick in the draft, could we select another corner at #18? We could possibly. If not at #18, I could definitely see us selecting a corner in the 2nd or 3rd round, a guy we expect to come in and compete with Walls for that #2 spot. I like Walls, I really do, but I just don't see him as a starting corner. Asking any rookie to come in and play immediately is tough. However if you make that rookie a cornerback and not a first round selection and all of a sudden it gets a lot tougher.

Possible Draft Targets

Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State- Possibly my favourite corner in the draft. Explosive, athletic, good acceleration, good speed, good balance, height, length, strength. There is a reason he's likely going top 15, but he could fall to the Jets at #18, I wouldn't be surprised at all.

Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State- Physical, good length and frame. Fluid hips, good acceleration, body control and awareness. Loves a battle and a fight and strikes you as the kind of guy that Rex Ryan would love to have on his defence. He's in the same boat as Gilbert, could be gone.

Bradley Roby, Ohio State - Some people have a 1st round grade on Roby, not for me. I saw him get beat too often in college for me to place him that high, but as a 2nd round guy, perhaps. Great speed, great acceleration, closing speed is elite and plays physical. No wonder Rex is interested.

Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech - May want to check out that hernia problem that he had an operation on in November, but he is one athletic corner who plays the ball and comes up and supports the run well. Lack of speed may be a problem, but plays with good control. 2nd round prospect.

Jason Verrett, TCU - Another 2nd round guy, he's fluid and controlled. Short area quickness and explosion off his plant foot is ideal. Good awareness and good instincts. Great read and react skills, and he may well be my favourite 2nd round corner prospect in the draft.

Keith McGill, Utah - Moving in the late 2nd, 3rd round area now. He's a big strong, athletic corner and as we just lost one in Cromartie, we may be interested in another. Plays a lot of press and man-to-man in college, perfect scheme fit for a Rex Ryan defense, I would watch this one for sure.

Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State - Corner or safety? corner or safety? you decide. He hits like a runaway train with the pinpoint timing you need to avoid flags. Physical, fast and good acceleration on read and react. Can see Rex enjoying his game tape.

Marcus Roberson, Florida - Prototypical size and length for the position, excellent awareness and anticipation with good body control. I like him as more your traditional cover corner. Would be someone very interesting in the 3rd round if he lasts there.

Conclusion

Our depth chart looks bad, nearly all of the free agents left wouldn't improve the Jets. Thankfully the draft class at corner almost mirrors the talent at receiver. All the players I listed above I could see on the Jets. I don't really like Roby, it's just something about his game. However McGill is my dark horse to watch. I could really see the Jets taking a chance on a man who loves to play press and man-to-man coverage, it certainly would make a lot of sense, especially as it enables them to concentrate on offence in the first round.

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