Last month, the Jets signed defensive back Jimmy Moreland to their practice squad. Today, we break down Moreland in detail.
The 27-year old Moreland is listed at 5’11” and 182 pounds and was a seventh round pick out of James Madison back in 2019. He has started 10 NFL games and registered 88 tackles and an interception in his career.
Moreland was mostly a free safety in high school and ended up attending James Madison, where he made an immediate impact by starting 12 games in his first season.
2015 was a redshirt year for Moreland, who had some legal issues and was kicked off the team. However, he returned in 2016 and started six games. He started 26 games over his last two seasons as he was a two-time all-CAA first teamer and an FBS all-American.
By the end of his career, Moreland had forged a reputation as a playmaker with 18 interceptions and 63 passes defensed. He had six pick-sixes and blocked six kicks.
Moreland wasn’t invited to the senior bowl or the scouting combine but he did well at the East-West Shrine Game and his pro day and was eventually drafted by Washington in the seventh round.
In his first two years in Washington, Moreland earned a role as a nickelback, starting 10 games. He had his ups and downs in that role, recording 88 tackles, an interception and five passes defensed.
In 2021, he got released in final cuts. The Texans claimed him and he played seven games for them, but was only on the field for eight defensive snaps.
After Houston cut him in May, he ended up with the Eagles, but got hurt in preseason and was released by them. The Jets added him to their practice squad in September but he hasn’t been elevated to the active roster yet.
Now let’s take a look at what Moreland brings to the table, divided into categories.
Moreland is small - he is listed at 5’11” but actually measured under 5’10” as a draft prospect - with short arms. He also has a thin frame and only managed eight bench press reps at his pro day.
His other pro day numbers were above average and included a 4.46 40-yard dash, 39-inch vertical and a 6.83 three cone drill.
Moreland was an outside cornerback in college, but has mostly played in the slot at the NFL level, as you’d expect for a player of his size. He has played outside at times, though.
As noted, Moreland was mostly a free safety in high school, but also played wide receiver and cornerback.
Moreland has given up a catch rate of around 70 percent over the course of his NFL career, but has only given up a few big plays and one touchdown.
His footwork perhaps needs a bit of work as his base can be too narrow on his backpedal and he is sometimes slow to transition. However, his recovery speed is good.
He has been better in press or trail coverage than in off-coverage, but shows a good ability to mirror his man.
Moreland’s playmaking numbers at the FBS level were incredible and he’s displayed those abilities in flashes at the NFL level, although he only has one interception.
Despite his short arms, Moreland has good timing and can use his vertical leap or closing speed to get his hands on passes.
Due to his lack of size, Moreland’s tackling can be an issue, although he has good closing speed and range. Missed tackles were an issue for him in his two years in Washington, though.
While he only forced one fumble in his college career, Moreland has shown a knack for knocking the ball loose at the NFL level with one forced fumble in regular season action and a few more in preseason.
Moreland has been productive against the run at times. He had 12 tackles for loss in his college career and shows a willingness to come up in run support when lined up inside.
He crashed down aggressively for this fourth down goal line stuff and forced fumble in preseason action.
Moreland’s lack of size and strength can be an issue when tackling, getting off blocks and at the catch-point, but he has a reputation as being aggressive and gritty.
He’s effective in press coverage, displaying good accuracy and tenaciousness in terms of his hand placement when jamming receivers.
He had six defensive penalties in his career so far, including a personal foul for a helmet-to-helmet hit and one pass interference call, three defensive holding penalties and one illegal contact penalty.
Moreland only had two sacks in his college career and has half a sack at the NFL level, but he’s been effective at times as a blitzer from the slot.
Officially, he has three quarterback hits in his NFL career.
Moreland was a special teams monster in college as he blocked six kicks, including five in his freshman year to lead the nation. At the NFL level, he’s showed some potential on special teams but he’s had an issue with his discipline as he had nine penalties on special teams in his first two years. These included three offside penalties, a running into the kicker penalty and two holding penalties on returns.
He was primarily in a special teams role in Houston, where he had two tackles in kick coverage.
While Moreland hasn’t seen action as a kick returner, he may have some potential there as he had 363 interception return yards in college and a 50-yard return on a missed field goal in the Shrine Bowl.
Moreland trusts his eyes and his route recognition is generally pretty good. He had also impressed a few times when making reads to blow up plays.
On this play, he recognizes the rub route and avoids it to get underneath for the athletic pass deflection.
There have also been a few plays where he was involved in a blown coverage down the field that led to a big play, though.
In college, Moreland was kicked off the team after being charged with petty larceny along with two teammates. However, after a coaching change, they decided to give him a second chance and he responded by developing into a solid leader. He has a good work ethic and character and is a pest on defense, who will get under his opponents’ skin.
Moreland hasn’t had major injury issues but ended up on injured reserve in December 2019 with a foot injury and was waived in preseason this year after suffering an ankle injury.
Moreland has likely been brought in to provide cover for Deuce Carter as a slot corner. However, he profiles similarly to DJ Reed, who was a player that was moved inside due to his lack of size only to thrive when he got an opportunity on the outside. Perhaps the Jets see Moreland as someone they could develop similarly.
He has previously been a teammate of current Jets Jacob Martin and Cedric Ogbuehi while with the Texans.
Moreland has already been with the team for four weeks without getting his opportunity but the Jets seem to have soured on Bryce Hall and don’t have much depth at the slot corner position, although they have a few guys at other positions who can play there in an emergency.
He’s inexperienced enough that he still may have some upside, so the team can develop him. In the meantime, he’ll likely work on the scout team unless and until an injury gives him a shot at playing time on the main roster.