When the Jets signed Marcus Gilchrist it was widely believed that he was being signed to play free safety, which would allow Calvin Pryor to move over to the more natural strong safety position. The coaching staff came out and said as much. However in Todd Bowles news conference yesterday he alluded to the fact that Pryor would see time at both the free and strong position:
On whether he sees Calvin Pryor as a strong safety and what he saw in him last year...
He's going to have to play free and strong in this one too. He did a lot of things that he did in college. Last year was his first year, you're going to have some growing pains. He made some good plays last year, he made some bad plays last year. Hopefully with the growth of the second year and studying and everything like that, I hope he gets better.
I think we all saw last year the problem with playing Calvin as a deep middle of the field safety. He didn't showcase the best range and you could nitpick a few areas of his game that were missing, but mainly it came down to angles and tackling. Those are the two factors that plagued the Louisville prospect in year one.
According to pro football focus Pryor had a combined tackle efficiency of 4.4. Which is the total number of attempted tackles a safety made per each missed tackle, this was good for dead last in the league among safeties who played in 50% or more of their team snaps.
In an ideal World, you'd have Pryor up at the line playing the run and rushing the passer, obviously he's going to need to drop into coverage but you don't want him as your last line of defense, that's just not what he excels at. Gilchrist may not be the elite deep roaming free safety that we crave but his combined tackling efficiency is 20.5 which is good for 5th best in the league. When I'm looking for that free safety candidate to play deep, the first thing I'm looking for is a reliable tackler.
I know Bowles has said he'll play both, but I wouldn't imagine we'll be seeing Pryor as that deep safety all too often.