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Scouting Jets safety Matthias Farley

Cleveland Browns v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

With the regular season underway, we’re going to be looking at the players the Jets have added since cutdown day, continuing today with Matthias Farley.

The 27-year old is listed at 5’11” and 210 pounds and was undrafted out of Notre Dame in 2016. Farley has played in 40 NFL games, including 16 starts. He has 128 tackles, 11 passes defensed, three interceptions and two forced fumbles in his career.

Background

Farley was initially recruited to South Bend as a wide receiver but redshirted his freshman year. Having converted to safety after the season, he established himself as a key contributor over the next few years, posting career highs of 53 tackles, 3.5 sacks and four interceptions as a junior.

His production was down slightly in his senior year, though, and he wasn’t invited to the scouting combine. Despite a solid pro day workout, Farley went unselected in the 2016 draft and was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Arizona Cardinals.

Farley was released in final cuts by the Cardinals and was immediately claimed by the Colts who made him their third safety. He mostly played on special teams as a rookie though.

In 2017, Farley became a starter after first round rookie Malik Hooker had injury issues in preseason. He ended up starting 15 games and registering 98 tackles, two interceptions and seven passes defensed.

Last season, Farley only appeared in five games before landing on injured reserve. He was productive though, despite only making one start, with 19 tackles, an interception, a forced fumble and four passes defensed in just 151 snaps.

The Colts let Farley go in preseason, following the emergence of youngsters George Odum and Khari Willis, so the Jets claimed him off waivers. He has been active in each of their first three games but has only been seeing time on special teams.

Now let’s take a look at what Farley brings to the table, divided into categories.

Measurables/Athleticism

Farley turned heads at his pro day with a 4.5 in the 40-yard dash and 21 bench press reps. His explosiveness and agility numbers were slightly below average, though.

Usage

Farley is versatile enough to play either safety position as well as playing some reps in the slot. He’s more of a box safety than a deep safety, but did still play plenty of deep reps with the Colts.

Run defense

Farley makes good contributions as a run defender with his 23 run stops in 2017 putting him third in the NFL for all safeties, according to Pro Football Focus.

He has a knack for making good reads, finding a path to the football and closing on the ball carrier with good burst.

Coverage skills

Over the course of his career, Farley has been targeted a lot, giving up a completion just over 60 percent of the time and an average of 15 yards per catch.

He is a good playmaker, but also gives up quite a few big plays. In 2017, he had seven games where he gave up at least one 20-yard play, including three that went for more than 40.

As a deep defender he makes plenty of plays in coverage support. On this one, his hit jars the ball loose so his teammate can intercept it.

However, there was one big play on a deep throw where he picked up a receiver downfield in zone coverage but didn’t get his head turned around in time to prevent the catch.

He can also handle man coverage assignments in certain match-ups. He picks up the receiver here and jumps the route to break it up.

The tight end gets him off balance with a jab-step move here, though, and beats him down the seam for what would end up being a 54-yard touchdown.

Ball skills

Farley has made a lot of plays on the ball in coverage, both by deflecting passes away and by disrupting the receiver with a big hit.

He has dropped at least two interceptions in his career but shows slick hands to tip the ball to himself on this play.

Tackling

Farley closes fast on the ball and packs a punch as a hitter. However, he can also be a bit reckless. This led to him missing 15 tackles in 2017 alone.

He has a good knack for forcing fumbles, which he’s done both by jarring the ball loose with a big hit or by ripping the ball away as he does here.

Physicality

As noted, Farley is a big hitter and likes to get involved in the running game. Here’s a play where he initially gets blocked off the line by the fullback, but fights off the block to make the stop.

Despite being a big hitter, he has been disciplined with no defensive penalties in regular season or preseason action with the Colts. He also didn’t have any in his senior year in college and only one as a junior. Here’s an example of a big - but clean - hit, as the receiver bobbles a catch.

Blitzing

Farley has been effective at generating pressure when he blitzes as his closing speed makes him ideal for the role. However, he doesn’t have a sack at the NFL level. He did have 3.5 in his college career and one in preseason, though.

Special teams

Farley has already been seeing some special teams action with the Jets, for whom his most notable contribution was a missed tackle in the Browns game.

In college he played on every major unit, winning Notre Dame’s special teams player of the year in his senior year. He has produced well at the NFL level with 14 special teams tackles in his career so far. However, he does overrun the return man sometimes and he had one penalty for running out of bounds on a punt.

Farley almost scored on a blocked kick return in a 2017 game, but tight end Jesse James hustled downfield to bring him down inside the 10.

Instincts/Intelligence

Farley shows some impressive instincts on the field. Notice how he makes the pre-snap read here and gets out ahead of the blocker to get into the backfield and make the play.

He also displays excellent instincts on this play in the open field. The screen pass here is well set-up and should have gone for a big gain but he somehow avoided all of the blockers to make the stop.

Although he usually makes the right read, Farley can also bite on play action and there was a play in 2017 that went for a 51-yard gain after he left a receiver open after he followed the slot receiver to the outside when he should have dropped into zone coverage.

Attitude

Having released Farley, the Colts’ general manager went to the unusual lengths of sending out a statement saying what a pleasure it had been to have Farley on their team, praising his leadership and work in the community.

Clearly, he’s a player with outstanding intangibles, including an excellent work ethic. As noted, he has a good record on on-field discipline too, although he ruffled a few feathers with what Martavis Bryant felt was a late hit and also by lighting up Chris Boswell away from the ball on a kickoff.

Injuries

Farley’s 2018 season was cut short after he was placed on injured reserve with shoulder, groin and wrist injuries having made just five appearances. He hasn’t otherwise missed any time, although he’s also been listed with knee and hamstring injuries.

Scheme Fit

Farley is currently the team’s fourth safety. If there’s an injury, he’ll presumably move up to be the third safety and perhaps see limited action in dime packages. As noted, he can play either safety position if required.

His former teammates include Nate Hairston, Henry Anderson and Tarell Basham.

Conclusions

Although Farley has only seen action on special teams so far, he’s only one injury away from having a role on defense and with Rontez Miles and Marcus Maye having had some injury issues over the past few years, it seems inevitable he’ll be called upon at some point.

It’s a credit to Miles that he’s ahead of Farley at this stage, because Farley’s overall body of work is more impressive and he has some enticing playmaking ability. The Jets are perhaps concerned about his occasional bouts of recklessness, but maybe they will call upon him if they decide to shake things up in the secondary.

Whatever his role over the remainder of the season, Farley seems like a good addition to the team and a good character to have in the locker room.