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Scouting Jets’ cornerback Maurice Canady

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Baltimore Ravens v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

With the regular season well underway, we’ve been looking at the players the Jets have added since cutdown day, continuing today with Maurice Canady.

The 25-year old cornerback is listed at 6’1” and 193 pounds and was a sixth-round pick out of Virginia in 2016. He was limited to just 24 games in three-and-a-half seasons with the Ravens and claimed off waivers by the Jets earlier this month. Canady has registered 57 tackles, one interception and four passes defensed in his career so far.

Background

After playing cornerback, wide receiver and quarterback in high school, Canady was recruited to Virginia where he started his career off as a reserve. He would eventually play 43 games for the Cavaliers, racking up 146 tackles and five interceptions.

In his junior year, Canady was a second-team all-ACC selection after having placed second in the conference with 12 pass break-ups, adding three interceptions. As a senior, he didn’t earn all-conference honors, as he didn’t register any interceptions, but was considered to have played with more discipline.

Canady was invited to the Senior Bowl and the scouting combine which led to him being selected in the sixth round of the 2016 draft by the Ravens.

As a rookie, he only saw action on special teams and ended up on injured reserves after just four appearances. However, following another stint on injured reserve, he had a much bigger role in his second season, playing in a career-high eight games and earning his first start. His 27 tackles also represented a career-high.

His third season saw Canady once again placed on injured reserve and this time he was mostly used in a special teams role when he returned.

This year, he was released in final cuts and then placed on the practice squad, but was then activated early in the season, playing in five more games, including one start.

He was productive, with 21 tackles, three passes defensed and the first forced fumble and interception of his career. However, the Ravens opted to release him after he was picked on repeatedly in his final appearance with them.

The Jets claimed Canady before last week’s game and he saw action on special teams with them against the Giants.

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

Measurables/Athleticism

The book on Canady is that he is a decent athlete with good size and length, but lacks ideal long speed. Nevertheless, he ran a 4.49 in the 40-yard dash at the scouting combine.

The rest of his combine workout was pretty good, other than his three cone drill. He showed some agility with a 4.09 short shuttle though and did well in the explosiveness drills. Canady also posted 16 bench press reps.

Usage

Canady has experience of playing in the slot and outside, and has also been used in a variety of different coverages. In 2017, he played primarily in the slot, but since then he’s mostly played outside other than in one game this year. His numbers are about the same in either role.

Coverage skills

Canady has held up well in coverage most of the time at the NFL level, but there were two games against the Bengals where they went after him repeatedly; one at the end of the 2017 season and one just before his release this year.

On each occasion, he gave up over 100 yards, which accounts for about half of the total production he’s given up in his career. The Bengals exposed his raw technique on some short passes, targeting him 24 times in total over the two games:

One thing he hasn’t done at the NFL level is get beaten deep, which was a concern for him coming out of college. In his junior year, he gave up six touchdowns and a lot of big plays down the field, but this was less of an issue in his senior year, as he gave up just four touchdowns and no 40-yard plays.

However, he developed a tendency to transition from him backpedal to a full sprint early on, making him susceptible to hitch routes and comebackers.

In coverage closer to the line of scrimmage, Canady reacts and closes on the ball well as he shows here:

He had the first interception of his career last month as he anticipated the quick slant well and scooped up a low throw:

Physicality

During the pre-draft process, scouting reports suggested that Canady is soft and will avoid contact at times.

He shows competitiveness when employed in press coverage but can get overpowered at the catch-point. He’s been called for two pass interference penalties and one defensive holding penalty in his career so far.

Ball skills

Canady posted some impressive numbers for pass break-ups in college and showed a good ability to pick off errant passes.

He uses his length well to make a play on the ball and does a decent job of turning his head to locate the ball on downfield routes.

Run defense

Despite what it says in his scouting report, Canady has shown an ability to make stops in the running game from time to time.

However, it is somewhat rare for him to take on or fight his way off a block in space and he doesn’t contribute much when he’s playing on the outside.

Tackling

Canady hasn’t missed many tackles at the NFL level, but does have a tendency to go in low, which can allow ball carriers to fall forward for extra yardage.

He had one particularly costly missed tackle leading to the decisive touchdown in the loss to the Bengals in 2017.

Canady had the first forced fumble of his career this season, although some believe this should have been an incomplete pass, as he made a play on the ball after the catch.

Blitzing

Canady, who had two sacks at Virginia, has blitzed from the slot occasionally, registering three quarterback hits in 2017.

He was also called for a roughing the passer penalty, although that was arguably harsh as he was called for going in too low.

Special teams

Canady has seen plenty of special teams work in the vice and gunner role. He’s been called for holding twice at the vice position, but recorded eight special teams tackles in his first three seasons (19 games).

He also showed alertness and hustle to record a fumble recovery after his teammate muffed a punt.

In college, Canady had a spectacular 74-yard punt return for a touchdown, but only returned four other punts. He did average a solid 13 yards on those other returns though.

Instincts/Intelligence

Canady has worked hard at understanding his roles and seems to show good positional sense in zone coverages.

Here’s one play where he makes a quick read and comes up fast to make the stop in the backfield.

In college, he displayed some good instincts as an open field runner, scoring on a punt and an interception.

Attitude

Canady is regarded as a confident player who has a lot of belief in himself, but his toughness and durability have been questioned.

He doesn’t seem to have any off-field concerns and has shown good on-field discipline.

Injuries

Injuries have slowed Canady’s progress over the past few seasons. He’s been placed on injured reserve three times - once due to a hamstring injury, once because of a thigh injury and once because he needed knee surgery.

He was also involved in a car accident while out with the knee injury, although that did not cause any further injury.

Scheme Fit

Canady is versatile enough to fit into any system, but the Jets might be most interested in him as a back-up nickelback.

He is a former teammate of CJ Mosley and was drafted by the Ravens while Chad Alexander was with the organization.

Conclusions

Canady is in the final year of his rookie deal, so he will have to impress the Jets to remain with the team next season.

At the moment, Canady is not part of the rotation, but with Darryl Roberts’ injuries and Nate Hairston’s recent struggles, perhaps he will get a shot soon.

For now, he probably needs to do well on special teams and impress with the scout team, but Canady does have some ability. He’ll do better if he continues to work at his strength and technique, but perhaps the most important thing for him is to remain healthy so he doesn’t have any further setbacks.