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Scouting Jets safety Jarrod Wilson

Tennessee Titans v New York Jets Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The Jets recently added safety Jarrod Wilson to their active roster after having signed him to the practice squad following training camp. He’s been active for four games already this season. Today, we break down Wilson in detail.

The 27-year old Wilson is listed at 6’1” and 209 pounds and was undrafted out of Michigan in 2016. Over his first five seasons with the Jaguars, he started off as a special teamer but then eventually became a full time starter with 28 of his 30 starts with the Jaguars coming over the last two seasons. He has 197 tackles, three interceptions, nine pass breakups and 11 tackles for loss at the NFL level.

Background

Wilson was a four-star recruit in high school and ended up at Michigan where he mostly played on special teams as a freshman in 2012, ending up with eight total tackles.

In 2013, he moved into the rotation and started eight games, ending the year with 45 tackles and two interceptions.

In 2014 and 2015, he was a full-time starter, making 23 starts. He had 50 tackles and a defensive touchdown in his junior year and then was an honorable mention all-Big Ten selection in 2015 as he intercepted two more passes and set career highs in tackles (61) and pass breakups (three).

Wilson wasn’t invited to the scouting combine and ended up going undrafted but was picked up by the Jaguars and made their roster out of camp. During his first three seasons, he was mostly a special teamer but did make two starts. He totaled 40 tackles, two pass breakups, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery over those three years.

In 2019, he became a full time starter, and racked up 79 tackles, six tackles for loss and four pass breakups in 16 games. He also intercepted the first two passes of his career.

He added another 69 tackles, three passes defensed and one more interception in 12 starts in 2020.

After being released in final cuts by the Jaguars this season, Wilson joined the Jets’ practice squad but injuries to Lamarcus Joyner, Ashtyn Davis, Adrian Colbert, Sharrod Neasman and Marcus Maye all meant he got plenty of opportunities to play.

In four appearances, Wilson has made two starts and recorded nine tackles and a quarterback hit with the Jets. He was inactive against New England, though.

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

Measurables/Athleticism

Williams has decent size and above average length. His pro day numbers were pretty much in line with the average for his position across the board, apart from his short shuttle which was below average. He ran a 4.55 in the 40-yard dash and had a 36-inch vertical.

Usage

Wilson primarily played as a deep safety in college but has played in the box or matched up in the slot quite regularly with the Jaguars. He has limited experience of lining up at cornerback.

Coverage skills

Over the course of his career, Wilson’s coverage numbers haven’t been too bad and he hasn’t been directly responsible for many big plays.

As noted, he will occasionally match up with receivers, but the majority of the time he ranges deep or drops into zone coverage. When doing this he shows pretty decent reaction and closing speed.

When he does drop into coverage, awareness can sometimes be an issue for Wilson, who allows the receiver to sneak into the space behind him here.

Ball skills

Wilson has showcased some playmaking ability over the course of his career, with four interceptions at Michigan and another four with the Jaguars in preseason and regular season action. He shows these abilities on this diving pick.

Despite this, he’s never really posted big numbers for pass breakups and also dropped at least one interception in his career.

With the ball in his hands, he shows some return abilities. He had a spectacular 47-yard return after picking off a deflected pass against Houston last year and had a 98-yard fumble return for a score in college.

Tackling

Wilson has been a pretty productive tackler over the course of his college and pro career and has generally displayed good tackle efficiency, although at times he will take overaggressive angles.

One of his best plays was this hustle play that saw him chase down the running back and strip the ball away for a turnover right before the runner was about to score.

Physicality

Wilson is capable of making some big hits, although on this one the receiver still managed to hold onto the catch.

There have been a few big plays where Wilson has been blocked out of the play downfield, although this may have more to do with awareness in terms of anticipating the block rather than a lack of physical ability to disengage.

Run defense

Wilson has made some good contributions against the run in 2019 and 2020. On this play he gets to the outside and cleans up for a fourth down stop.

He can also contribute in the box, lining up at linebacker here and doing a good job of keeping himself clean so he can finish off the play.

Blitzing

Wilson has never registered a sack in an NFL regular season game or in college, but did have one in back-to-back games in the 2018 preseason. On each occasion he came off the edge, forcing a fumble on one of those plays.

When he blitzes, he generates pressure at a solid rate and not just coming unblocked off the edge. On this play he beats an interior lineman on the A-gap blitz.

Special teams

Wilson has been a core special teamer with the Jaguars, although his special teams workload reduced when he was starting. During his first four seasons, he registered 25 special teams tackles.

Wilson has also contributed on every other main special teams unit, although he’s had two penalties as a blocker on the return units.

Instincts/Intelligence

Play recognition has, at times, been an issue for Wilson over the course of his career. He is sometimes slow to react, will drop too deep at times and has had issues with taking bad angles or blowing assignments.

This may have burned the Jets in their loss to Atlanta as Wilson was one of the Jets involved in the blown coverage that led to a 39-yard Kyle Pitts catch on the first play after the Jets had pulled to within 20-17 in the fourth quarter, killing their momentum.

Here’s a fourth down play where Wilson appears to abandon his main assignment because he overreacts to something he sees before the snap. The tight end is left uncovered for a 28-yard gain.

Awareness generally has been an issue. On this play, he’s in position to limit the damage after a long pass, but collides with an official, enabling the receiver to break to the end zone.

This play sees him distracted because he’s communicating with a teammate at the snap. This causes him to come up too fast with a bad angle.

Attitude

Wilson obviously has good football character. He won awards for his character and leadership in each of his first two seasons at Michigan and was nominated for the Bart Starr award while with the Jaguars.

His on-field discipline was good with only four career penalties entering the season finale last season. However, he’s had four in his last five games, including two pass interference penalties and a special teams penalty with the Jets. One of those was on fourth down against the Titans and would’ve iced the win if it was a no-call.

He has had one personal foul in his career, which was called because he lowered his helmet while making a tackle.

Injuries

Wilson only missed one game in his first four seasons, but missed four in 2020 as he was placed on injured reserve with a hamstring injury. He also had a shoulder injury last year and a head injury while with the Jets, although he was a healthy scratch in the New England game.

Scheme Fit

Wilson should have joined the team with some scheme familiarity because his first season overlapped with Robert Saleh’s final season as the Jaguars’ linebackers coach.

He’s been a teammate of Keelan Cole and (briefly) Greg Van Roten while he was playing for Jacksonville.

Conclusions

In the most recent game, the Jets only had three safeties active and one (Sharrod Neasman) didn’t play any defensive snaps, so Wilson may not get many more defensive reps while everyone remains healthy. Nevertheless he could still be active for special teams duties and was added back to the roster while Adrian Colbert was released so he has a spot for the time being, even if only as cover.

Wilson has plenty of experience and has already shown in his brief time with the Jets that he won’t kill you if you need to rely on him in a pinch, although his teams have lost 22 of the 30 games that he’s started. There are some weaknesses in his game which could be exploited if he has to play too much, but he offers value as a rotational player.