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Scouting Jets safety Jovante Moffatt

Pittsburgh Steelers v Cleveland Browns Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

The Jets recently signed defensive back Jovante Moffatt to a futures deal. Today we break him down in detail.

The 25-year old Moffatt is listed at 5’11” and 213 pounds and was undrafted out of Middle Tennessee in 2020. He has played in 14 NFL games and recorded 10 tackles.

Background

Moffatt was a two-star cornerback prospect out of high school and ultimately opted to attend Middle Tennessee State where he would play for five years.

In his freshman year, he barely saw the field on defense but was a contributor on special teams. He then moved to safety as a sophomore and started 12 of 13 games as he racked up 76 tackles and three pass breakups.

As a junior, Moffatt was an honorable mention all-Conference USA selection after racking up over 100 tackles. However his senior year was slowed by injuries and he ultimately decided to take a medical redshirt and return for a fifth season despite racking up 36 tackles in just four games.

He was once again an all-Conference USA honorable mention in his redshirt senior year as he started all 12 games and had 98 tackles and three interceptions.

Moffatt played in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl but then his pre-draft preparation was interrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic and he ended up going undrafted. However, he signed with the Browns, started the year on their practice squad and was eventually activated and played nine games in a special teams role.

In 2021, he spent the entire year on the Browns practice squad, but was elevated five times to play during the regular season. In one of these games, against the Raiders, he played 54 defensive snaps and recorded eight tackles. He otherwise has just played one snap on defense and recorded two special teams tackles.

Moffatt was not signed to a futures deal at the end of the season by Cleveland, so the Jets signed him to one instead a few weeks ago.

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

Measurables/Athleticism

Moffatt has a strong frame having gained 20 pounds since moving from cornerback to safety in college. However, he lacks ideal length.

He never got to do a pro day workout, but has said he was expecting to run some good times. On film, he looks like he has decent speed, change of direction and flexibility and made some athletic plays on the ball.

Usage

Moffatt is comfortable playing both as a deep safety and in the box and will regularly match up with tight ends and slot receivers in coverage. He perhaps profiles more like a strong safety with his college production.

Coverage skills

As a converted corner, Moffatt moves around pretty well for a safety when playing man coverage, although his route recognition can be lacking at times.

He will sometimes give his man too much of a cushion when roaming deep, but does close on the ball well. In college, he gave up a few big plays and was beaten for four touchdowns in his junior year.

Ball skills

Moffatt had pretty good production with five interceptions in the last 17 games of his career. He also broke up 12 passes in his career, including a career-high five in just four games in 2018. He has good timing and can make athletic plays on the ball.

At the NFL level, he doesn’t have a pass breakup or an interception in preseason or regular season action. However, he did intercept a couple of passes in camp as a rookie.

Tackling

Moffatt had outstanding production as a tackler in college with 313 tackles in his career. However, he did also miss a lot of tackles, with 19 in his redshirt senior year alone.

When it’s a receiver coming across the middle, Moffatt has been known to make some big hits. However, when tackling runners in the box, he can sometimes miss arm tackles or have players bounce off him because he doesn’t move his feet into position.

At the NFL level, he’s so far only missed a couple of tackles and made this outstanding open field hit on a Derek Carr scramble.

Physicality

Moffatt likes to play in the box but may need to keep working on his strength because he can be blocked out of plays at times.

At times he has been employed in press coverage, jamming receivers at the line or bracketing them in double coverage.

As noted, he can be a big hitter but he did get ejected for targeting once in a game at Middle Tennessee State.

Run defense

Moffatt had excellent production against the run in college and has made some plays against the run already at the NFL level.

However, he can also, at times, be over-aggressive, running himself out of plays and potentially losing contain.

Blitzing

So far, Moffatt hasn’t had much production as a blitzer in his career. In college, he didn’t blitz very much and had no sacks and only a handful of pressures.

He hasn’t had any success at the pro level on the few occasions where he’s blitzed in an NFL game either.

Special teams

With the Browns, Moffatt has been used to rush punts, block on the kick return units and played the vice position on the punt return unit. He’s also made a few plays in kick coverage.

He had one roughing the kicker penalty when with the Browns but it didn’t ultimately prove to be very costly.

Instincts/Intelligence

Moffatt was described as a student of the game in college and MTSU often gave him assignments where he would be in the middle of the field with no responsibilities so he could just watch the quarterback and react.

He makes a good play here, closing to make the stop in flat rather than getting caught up in the wash or distracted by the other receiver.

He can, at time, be susceptible to play action fakes or make the wrong read on RPO-type plays. He can also lose contact with his man at the end of a play when it gets extended.

Attitude

Moffatt was voted as a team captain and lauded for his vocal leadership role while in college.

He also displayed some toughness by playing through injuries in the 2017 season and then, when he was hurt during the following season, he took on a role as an off-field coach.

Although he was ejected once in college, his on-field discipline has been solid. He never had more than two penalties in a season in college and didn’t have any defensive penalties in preseason or regular season action with the Browns.

He plays with intensity and energy and displays confidence as he often talks trash with his opponents, although this tends to be good-natured.

Injuries

Moffatt suffered a torn labrum in his shoulder early in the 2017 season, played the rest of the year with it and got surgery after the season. He then tore the labrum in his other shoulder in summer camp. This caused him to miss the first three games of the 2018 season and then, after playing four games, they shut him down and got him to apply for a redshirt.

The second shoulder injury was less serious than the first one and he hasn’t had any injury issues since, although he was listed on Covid-19 reserve a few times.

Scheme Fit

As noted, Moffatt would sometimes roam free in center field in college, which speaks to his natural instincts but perhaps doesn’t prepare him for a pro-style defensive system. That’s what he’ll have been learning in his two years with the Browns.

The Jets have already had a few defensive backs on the roster that had been with the Browns including Sheldrick Redwine and JT Hassell, so clearly they feel players from this system can make the transition.

Moffatt was a teammate of fellow futures signings DJ Montgomery and Lawrence Cager as well as pending free agent Greg Senat in Cleveland.

Conclusions

Moffatt joins a group of young safeties in a situation where nobody has the job for next year locked down right now. Of course the Jets may re-sign Marcus Maye, bring in a big name free agent and/or draft a safety with a high pick, but Moffatt will just have to try and compete to make the roster whoever he’s up against.

In 2021 the Jets had to dig deep into their depth chart with nine different players starting at least one game at safety and two others seeing rotational reps there. If something similar happens next year, we could see Moffatt getting some important reps at some point.