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A closer look at Jets UDFA CB Javelin Guidry

A slot corner with a chance to stick with the Jets

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 22 Utah at Arizona Photo by Jacob Snow/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Javelin Guidry comes to the Jets from a family of achievers who also have a serious background in football. Javelin’s dad (also named Javelin) was a defensive back who played at UCLA with his brother Paul (Javelin Jr’s uncle). In fact Javelin Sr. and Kaishauna Guidry (Javelin Jr’s mom) are UCLA alumni. Javelin Sr. played at UCLA from 1994 to 1997. He had four career interceptions and started as a true freshman for the Bruins. He and his brother, Paul Guidry, who played for the Bruins from 1993 to 1996, were the first brothers to start together in a UCLA secondary.

Javelin Jr. grew up in Long Beach, California. He started running track at age 7. He later became a member of the Long Beach Sprinters Club. His coach didn’t allow him to run sprints initially. He made Javelin excel at longer events before allowing him to run sprints. Javelin competed in 400, 500, & 600 meter events along with a 4x400 relay. The coaches made him earn being able to run the short events. It was life a gift.

The entire Guidry family moved to Texas prior to Javelin’s freshman year in high school so his mom could attend medical school at Texas A&M. The family moved back to California just before his senior year in high school as his mom started her career at Loma Linda Medical Center. While in Texas he played football but also ran track for the school. He played in two state championship games (winning 1 of 2). He also won the Texas State 100 Meter Track Championship with a time of 10.41 seconds.

Javelin’s mother is an inspiration of total achievement. She worked hard and attended UCLA where she received her B.A. undergraduate degree in sociology, and a minor in education Studies. She then taught elementary school in the Los Angeles Unified School District. She then decided to become a stay at home mom and a difference maker in her community.

After spending 14 years taking care of her children and community through church, youth sports organizations, PTA, etc., she decided to pursue medicine. As an aptly termed “non-traditional student” she attended Long Beach City College, where she tutored science courses. She also took post-baccalaureate coursework at Cerritos College where she served on the Dean’s Advisory Board and as President of the Pre-Med Club. She then was accepted to medical school at Texas A&M where she earned an MD in internal medicine.

That is quite a story of perseverance. It was also a great inspiration to her family of what can be achieved through hard work and dedication.

After moving back Javelin won the California State Athlete of the Year award despite being in the state for only a single year. It is rare to have an unknown athlete win such a prize. Michael Norman (a 200 & 400 meter sprinter) had won it the year before (also from Vista Murrieta High) over Lonzo Ball (basketball).

Surprisingly Javein took a scholarship at Utah even though they don’t have a track team. “A lot of track people were upset at me for not going to a place that has track with all my speed,” he said. “But I was able to show what I could do this past spring in the nationals in Washington.” Javein competed at the University of Washington as an unaffiliated runner winning the 60 meter dash with a time of 6.59 seconds. That time tied for the 7th fastest in the world at the time.

On the football field Javelin took a page from his dad’s playbook by starting as a freshman. In his 3 years at Utah he played in 41 games (starting 25) almost entirely as a slot corner or nickelback. The slot corner/nickelback position played at Utah is a little different than normal slot defenders. As Guidry defines it, “basically a faster linebacker, It’s a mixture of DB and linebacker, so I’m required to cover fast receivers like a DB, but sometimes in zone I’m responsible like a linebacker in B gaps or C gaps, he said. I’m in the middle of everything. I love my position.”

Guidry is not exaggerating when he speaks of how he plays. He is not a cheetah who is thin, speedy yet weak. Guidry is 5’ 9” but 193 lbs. He is sort of stocky. He also opened some eyes at the combine by putting up 21 reps on the bench press. He ran a 4.29/40 which was 2nd fastest of anyone. “I can bang with them, though,” Guidry said. “Just ask Francis (Bernard). He knows.”

Bernard is Utah’s All-Pac 12 middle linebacker who had this to say about Guidry, “When you have a guy do that, it’s such a centerpiece to our defense and we don’t have to worry about him because he does such a terrific job, he’s little, but he’s able to come play in the box — he does it all. People haven’t talked about him as much this year, but he does a terrific job.”

One of Utah’s starting corners Josh Nurse said he brings a lot to the table. “He does so much. He brings speed and quickness. He’s smart and a good communicator. Getting to work alongside him is a real benefit.”

When you watch Guidry play you can see the glimpses of a player who can excel in a Gregg Williams’ defense. He has all the speed you could ever want, and even though he was labeled a player who doesn’t tackle by some scouts that is a misnomer. In fact Guidry is best when he plays most physical. You can see that it’s the way he likes to play.

Guidry has some major problems. They are the lack of good technique along with poor awareness or any ability to anticipate routes. He doesn’t read receivers, doesn’t get his head around, and is late to move his feet which can get him caught flat footed. These are all correctable items with hard work combined with proper coaching.

Let’s look at some video. This is against a quality Arizona squad. It is interesting to note that Guidry was a mere freshman playing in the slot.

First of all this was a pass that should never have been thrown. If you halt the video as the QB is about to release the ball you will see every receiver is covered with the exception of the RB in the flat 6 yards behind the line of scrimmage who has a linebacker racing towards him. Guidry is guarding the slot receiver (something he almost always does) a mere 3 yards away. This is nearly press man coverage. The receiver on this play must make Guidry think he is going to run by him. He has to threaten Guidry so he will flip his hips. Then the receiver will have separation, leaving a window for the pass.

The receiver basically takes three steps then a jab step then stops right in front of Guidry. He then turns to wait for the pass. He has gained zero separation then doesn’t keep his body between the ball and Guidry. He should at least make a move towards the QB rather than trying to back further upfield. Here is another look at the same play.

From the above view you can see a clearer picture of what is taking place. When the receiver stops Guidry simply slides around him then takes the pass from in front of the receiver, right into the end zone.

This is Guidry’s game in a nutshell. He is physical with the receivers, and he uses his shorter stature to his advantage by outmaneuvering his opponent to make a play. Guidry struggles in space because of poor technique, but when he can get his hands on the receiver he is much more of a staunch defender.

This next clip Guidry does an admirable job, but it also points out some of the weaknesses in his game. He is again in the slot (of course), but he is guarding a man much bigger than him. His opponent is Ty Jones, a 6’ 4” 209 lbs receiver with long arms. Just running with a man who is 7” taller and more weight makes it difficult to stay close to him.

Guidry stays square to his man too long. He also is late to move his feet. The receiver runs right up to Guidry yet he doesn’t lay a hand on him to stall his progress. By giving the receiver a punch he also throws the timing of the play off while getting as close to him as possible. With Guidry’s size, quickness, agility along with his speed he should have no problem staying in the hip pocket or on top of the receiver.

You can see by Guidry moving late without disturbing the receiver, his man is free to run right to the spot he wants. Guidry should try to prevent that as much as possible. This is a version of a fade route you see near the end zone where the ball is thrown high to take advantage of the receiver’s size advantage. Another look will give you some other observations.

You can see how easily the big receiver can make space for himself with a with a slight stretching out of his arms. If the ball is underthrown just a little there is no way for Guidry to make a play on the ball. He just cannot reach it. Also Guidry never turns his head to locate the ball. The receiver is telling him when the ball is coming by his actions. Guidry has to learn to read the player better while making it more difficult to get where he wants to go. This play was obviously put in by the offense for this specific matchup.

You might give the benefit of the doubt to Guidry on this play solely on the size mismatch. Let’s look at another identical play from the same game. This time Guidry is going against some much closer to his own size. This is the exact same play only using Aaron Fuller as the target, Fuller is 5’ 11” 186 lbs so he is actually lighter than Guidry.

This is a near carbon copy play (You young people can ask your elders what a carbon copy is.) with Guidry allowing the receiver to go where ever he wants without any deterrence. Guidry is also on his heels as he backpedals this slows his feet. He need to be lower with his “nose over his toes” then chop his feet backwards until he flips his hips. The receiver gets right to the spot he wants, only Guidry’s speed keeps him within an arms reach.

From another angle you can see this play works out just like the one before with Guidry never getting his head around to find the ball. His only attempt to disrupt the pass is a weak flailing of the arm in the direction of where he believes the ball will end up.

Fortunately the receiver does a poor job of locating the ball himself. This incompletion was on the receiver who has poor body control. You also can see that Guidry never looks back for the ball when the receiver does. Guidry needs to put his hands between the receiver’s hands when he tries to make a play on the ball. He really does nothing (other than run with the receiver) to affect the play.

This is where Guidry struggles with his back to the ball. He needs to learn better techniques to find the ball and play the receiver. He could be taught the kick-step method of coverage (the method Richard Sherman uses) which would allow him to play on top of the receiver instead of being in chase mode all the time. He was scouted as having poor ball skills, but that is mainly because he has problems finding the ball. He does a decent job when he can see the ball to make a play on it.

Scouts also said (incorrectly) that Guidry was not a good tackler. Rhey said he shied away from contact, but let’s see if that is true. Guidry had 120 tackles in 3 years at Utah playing almost exclusively in the slot. Here he is in his normal slot position. He then reads the play of the receiver well. Again with the play in front of him he can make the correct read.

When the slot receiver comes out slowly then looks to put a block on Guidry he is easily able to avoid the block with his quickness. He then can see the pass to the back on the poorly developed screen play so he is off to the races. He does a super job here of not over committing on the play.

He breaks down in good tackling position with the ball carrier on his inside left shoulder. This way he is able to force the runner back inside (to his right) back into the teeth of the defense. With nowhere to go the runner tries to spin back against the grain, but Guidry is there to make a strong, forceful sure tackle. This doesn’t look like a player who would shy away from contact.

This next play from the Stanford game is another smart, alert decision with the play in front of him. This is also late in the game with the victory well in hand, but Guidry is still giving his best effort. In scouting that is something you look for in a player, a guy who always competes no matter what the situation. You want a guy who gives his best effort whenever he is on the field.

Guidry is in the slot, but this time he is playing a zone defense instead of man to man. The situation dictates that kind of defense. You don’t really care about the small chunks of yardage. You just want to force the offense to take the short pass, tackle the ball carrier and let the clock wind down.

No big plays, no quick points.

Guidry is reading the QB’s eyes. If he could have seen the play develop a little quicker he could have jumped in front of the pass for a pick six. Instead he goes for the quick tackle and whiffs. Yet he stays with the play to rip the ball out. Another view gives a better look.

This is another heads up play as there are 4 defensive players around the man so the tackle is secure. Why not rip the ball out so this game can get over faster? You can see that Guidry has the man wrapped up then he purposely, forcibly pulls at the ball ripping it away from the receiver. gain this is not some player who shies away from contact. He makes strong plays when he is in position to do so.

This last play we have two looks at again. Guidry is playing the slot receiver, but this time he is positioned at the line of scrimmage while the outside receiver is backed off the line. This makes quite a difference since now Guidry can be more physical in press coverage which is how he plays best.

This is the last game Guidry played at Utah. It was in the Alamo Bowl against Texas. At the snap Guidry is playing directly over the slot receiver Devin Duvernay. Duvernay is almost as fast as Guidry. He is also a physical type receiver so this is a near equal matchup. When the play starts Guidry immediately gets his hands on Duvernay, pushing him outside away from the QB. If he can keep Duvernay outside like that the pass from the QB would have to come over Guidry if the throw is from the pocket.

That plan is partially ruined as the QB (Sam Ehlinger) rolls out to the right side of the field towards Duvernay. Ehlinger is very smart with the ball usually. He came into the game having thrown 65 TDs in his career with just 21 INTs. Yet as the rush gets to Ehlinger he throws off his back foot towards Duvernay who is in a jousting match with Guidry. Guidry eventually comes down with the ball but it is ruled incomplete. The second view gives you a better look at the action.

With Duvernay moving towards the sideline Guidry smartly keeps pushing him (ever so slightly) that way. Once the receiver goes out of bounds he would have to reestablish himself inbounds before he could legally catch the ball. Ehlinger’s ball floats back inside both men. Guidry uses his power to keep Duvernay away who then loses his footing, sliding to the ground. Guidry then reaches back for the ball, but it bounces off his shoulder pad/ Fortunately Guidry is able to secure the ball before it hits the ground.

The play was review, and the result was overturned. It was ruled an interception.

Summary

Javelin Guidry is a true junior who just turned 22 years old but decided to turn pro a year early. He is a slot only defender, but he can also see snaps as a gunner on special teams. He is small in stature, but he can hold his own in strength with larger players. He has long arms for his height (31 1/4”) although you would say his length is just adequate for a DB.

He is a good kid who comes from a great family and is considered a high character type player.

Guidry’s speed, quickness, agility, strength, and his ability to be a difference maker with the play in front of him are his major football assets. His height, weight, technique, route recognition skills, and playing with his back to the ball are his major weaknesses.

Guidry’s football worth has been questioned because of his size his entire life. As he looks at it, “It’s been like that my whole life so I’m pretty much used to it.” He gets a lot of appreciation from his college head coach Kyle Whittingham, “He gets way overlooked. His value to this football team is huge, that slot corner position is difficult to play. He has been rock solid for us for three years now and he doesn’t get his due. He’s got some really good players around him that were upperclassmen this year, but he’s been a guy who has been instrumental to our success.”

That said, Guidry is now in the NFL, where teams will exploit weakness when they see it. He does have talent, but he also has severe limitations.

As I see it Guidry has a great shot of making the roster as a backup slot defender behind starter Brian Poole. He will be evaluated every day to see his progress. The Jets will use this information to determine whether they can let Brian Poole go in free agency or need to re-sign him.

In the meantime it would behoove Guidry to get to know defensive backs coach Dennard Wilson really well over the next few months to better prepare him for what lies ahead. The more he learns as it comes to technique the better the chance he has of staying on for the near future with the Jets organization. Guidry has some talent, but his development will determine his future here with the Jets and the NFL as a whole.

That’s what I think.

What do you think?