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2019 Jets Free Agency Profiles: The Inside ‘Backers

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Michael Nania takes a look at two of the top inside linebacker targets for the Jets

Baltimore Ravens v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Welcome to the 2019 Jets Free Agency Profile series! Up until the start of the 2019 free agency period in March, I’ll be running through a bunch of names the Jets could potentially bring in with their hoard of cap space. Let’s get into it!


Inside linebacker is not near the top of the list of needs for the Jets, but it isn’t an untouchable position, either. Avery Williamson and Darron Lee made up a decent duo last year, but it’s far from formidable, as both players have their share of weaknesses and are rather one-dimensional.

With the Jets sticking in a 3-4 base, I’m OK if inside linebacker isn’t addressed and the Jets head into 2019 with that aforementioned pair, but there are a couple of names on the free agent market that caught my eye.

If the Jets think one of these guys can be a substantial upgrade over Lee, then they should by all means go for it, as long as the pursuit doesn’t restrain them from going after priority targets at positions of greater need.

Let’s take a look at C.J. Mosley and Kwon Alexander.


Name: C.J. Mosley

Birthday/Age: June 19th, 1992 (age 27 on September 1st)

Height/Weight: 6’2, 241

FA type: Unrestricted

College: Alabama (drafted 17th overall by the Ravens in the first round of the 2014 draft)

Team(s): Ravens (2014-18)

Position/usage: 3-4 inside linebacker

2018 stats: 15 games, 105 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, 5 passes defended, two QB knockdowns, one interception, half sack

Previous salary: Ravens accepted fifth year option. $8.7M cap hit in 2018

Spotrac Market Value: $9.7M/year (would currently be 6th highest among inside linebackers)

Jets connections: Alabama teammate of James Carpenter (impending free agent)

Measurables (via mockdraftable.com):

Mosley is a four-time Pro Bowler for the Ravens. Since joining the team, he’s played in 80 of 83 possible games, usually playing 100% of the defensive snaps. He’s primarily been a top-notch run stopper, but I think he’s more solid than given credit for in coverage. He’s a notoriously crushing hitter and a quality big play producer.


Name: Kwon Alexander

Birthday/Age: August 3rd, 1994 (age 25 on September 1st)

Height/Weight: 6’1, 227

FA type: Unrestricted

College: LSU (drafted 124th overall by the Buccaneers in the fourth round of the 2015 draft)

Team(s): Buccaneers (2015-18)

Position/usage: 4-3 outside linebacker

2018 stats: 6 games, 45 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, two passes defended, two QB knockdowns, two fumbles forced, one sack

Previous salary: Signed a 4 year, $2,758,322 rookie contract. $2.0M cap hit in 2018

Spotrac Market Value: $10.2M/year (would currently be 4th highest among inside linebackers)

Jets connections: LSU teammate of Jamal Adams and Rashard Robinson

Measurables (via mockdraftable.com):

Alexander has had trouble staying on the field in Tampa Bay. He suffered a torn ACL six games into 2018, after missing four games each in two of his first three seasons.

Only 25 years old this August (just two months younger than Lee), Alexander has primarily been a 4-3 outside linebacker for the Buccaneers, but I think he could project well into the role Lee has been playing for the Jets. I could see Alexander matching or even beating Lee in coverage, while representing an upgrade in run defense. Alexander is similarly athletic and smallish for the position. He’s been solid in coverage for the Buccaneers and a very high level playmaker.

Speaking of playmaking, this is the primary reason I think the Jets should at least consider the idea of trying to upgrade off of their current duo. Williamson and Lee both can do a few things pretty well, but one thing that neither has proven able to do at a high level is make big plays. It’s really something that the Jets defense as a whole has struggled to do for a while, though some steps forward were taken in 2018.

Conversely, it’s something that Alexander and Mosley have done exceptionally well.

In the chart below, I compared the amount of “splash plays” (interceptions, passes defended, fumbles forced, fumbles recovered, sacks, and tackles for loss) each of these have players averaged per game in their careers, projected over a sixteen game span.

Alexander and Mosley blow the Jets duo out of the water.

Here’s a more detailed breakdown of how those numbers were compiled.

Here are a couple of interesting bits I found. Since 2015, Alexander has collected eight tackles for loss in the passing game (T-7th in the league). Mosley has seven (T-16th).

The Jets duo has combined for only four, with Lee notching three, and Williamson, one.

Let’s look at third down stops since 2015 - tackles short of the sticks, sacks, pass deflections, and interceptions on third down.

Mosley has collected 43.5 (11.4 per sixteen), Alexander, 38 (13.2). In comparison, the league leader in total third down stops since 2015, Alexander’s Tampa Bay teammate Lavonte David, has averaged 14.8 third stops per sixteen games, with 54.5 in total over the past four seasons. Alexander’s average is equal to Luke Kuechly’s.

The Jets duo? Williamson has 26 (6.6 per sixteen), Lee, 18 (7.2).

What do you think? Should the Jets make a play at inside linebacker?

Poll

How should the Jets approach inside linebacker in free agency?

This poll is closed

  • 28%
    Stand pat
    (68 votes)
  • 43%
    Go after Mosley
    (105 votes)
  • 24%
    Go after Alexander
    (59 votes)
  • 3%
    Go after a different ILB
    (9 votes)
241 votes total Vote Now