Every year Football Outsiders has a list of 25 unheralded players they believe have breakout potential. An under the radar Jets cornerback is on their list this year.
We limit the pool to players who fit the following criteria:
• Drafted in the third round or later, or signed as an undrafted free agent
• Entered the NFL between 2011 and 2013
• Started fewer than five career games
• Still on their initial contract with their current team (players who were cut and picked up elsewhere still qualify)
• Age 26 or younger in 2014
14. Darrin Walls, CB, New York Jets
Walls, a third-year UDFA out of Notre Dame, is the man who replaced Dee Milliner last season when coach Rex Ryan benched the struggling rookie. He didn't play much in the second half of the season, but that's because the Jets finally just left Milliner in the lineup, not because Walls played poorly when he was on the field. Thirty targets aren't enough to make the rankings of our cornerback charting stats, but Walls would have ranked in the top half of the league with a 58 percent adjusted success rate and in the top dozen with just 5.0 adjusted yards per pass allowed. The Jets seem to view Walls as a special-teams player and backup, but there's a decent shot he ends up starting opposite Milliner. After all, the player the Jets brought in to replace Antonio Cromartie is Dimitri Patterson, who is 31, on his seventh team and only played six games for the Dolphins last season.
There is every opportunity for a player like Walls to make an impact. Even if you are in the glass is half full crowd about the cornerback position, this group is...let's say less established than what the Jets had during the Revis-Cromartie years.
I would have like to have seen Walls get more of an opportunity with Milliner's struggles last year. I'm not sure how high his ceiling is. He handled his role in subpackages well but did seem to struggle the few times the Jets increased his role and gave him more snaps against better competition. He is a guy who might have a shot to earn the starting job, though. Walls coming onto the scene and playing well would be a big boost for a secondary that has a ton of question marks.