John Gennaro was kind enough to give up a few minutes this morning to talk about the latest free agent to sign with the Jets Marcus Gilchrist. If you've ever been over to Bolts From The Blue, you know they do some excellent work there and who would know better than the people who have watched his entire NFL career.
GGN: What are his strengths and weaknesses, just how versatile is he?
BFTB: Less versatile than you think. I can not stress enough how poor he is at coverage (both man and zone), nor can I stress enough how great he is when he plays in the box and can make a play at the line (either blitzing or in run defense). He would've been better off being a Linebacker, isn't very good at being a Safety, and should never really be asked to be anything more than a mediocre nickel CB.
Where does he project best?
I liked him more as a nickel CB, because even with everything mentioned above about where he plays best the team still liked Eric Weddle to be the "in the box" Safety and Gilchrist mostly played deep zone (poorly). As a nickel CB, Gilchrist blitzed more often and was closer to the line to help defend against the run.
Are you upset about losing him?
Not really, but a lot of that was his contract. He was drafted before the Rookie Wage Scale, and so he always seemed to cost more than the production the team was getting on the field. It sure wasn't fun to remember how much of the salary cap he was taking up every time he got burned deep downfield or in the end zone.
Also, I've been a big fan of Jahleel Addae, who has been Gilchrist's backup for the last two seasons. Addae is simply a better Safety and a better fit for this defense.
Has he improved since moving from corner?
I guess so? It seems more like Safety is just an easier place to hide him than CB was, because he's rarely put in a on-on-one island against anyone.
One random thing to note is that Gilchrist was a heck of a kick and punt returner in college, but the Chargers never gave him a chance to win either of those jobs.