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Scouting Jets rookie defensive back Jarrick Bernard-Converse

A look at the Jets’ 6th round rookie defensive back

Syndication: The Daily Advertiser SCOTT CLAUSE/USA TODAY Network / USA TODAY NETWORK

In this year’s NFL draft, the Jets selected former Oklahoma State and LSU defensive back Jarrick Bernard-Converse in the sixth round. Today, we break down Bernard-Converse in detail.

The 23-year old Bernard-Converse is listed at 6’1” and 197 pounds and was a first-team all-Big 12 selection with the Cowboys in 2021 before entering the transfer portal and spending the 2022 season with LSU.


Bernard-Converse, who went by Jarrick Bernard until a few seasons ago, was a three-star safety prospect. He enrolled at Oklahoma State and contributed immediately as a true freshman in 2018.

By the end of the season, Bernard-Converse had locked down a starting role as he started the final nine games and racked up a career-best 58 tackles. He also added 2.5 tackles for loss (also a career-best) and had a sack and an interception.

In the next two seasons, he was a full-time starter, recording a total of 86 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, one interception and 12 passes defensed.

His senior year at Oklahoma State was his best, as he led the Big 12 in pass break-ups and was named as an all-Big 12 first-team selection. He also registered 51 tackles and 1.5 sacks.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Bernard-Converse had the option to return for a fifth season and opted to do so, entering the transfer portal and playing out his final season at LSU. He started nine games with the Tigers and had a career-high two interceptions. He also added 44 tackles and three pass defensed.

Bernard-Converse wasn’t invited to the scouting combine but made a good impression at the Hula Bowl and his pro day. The Jets drafted him with the 204th overall pick in the sixth round and he has already signed his rookie deal.

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


Bernard-Converse has decent size and length, along with big hands, although he appears to be a little lean.

At his pro day, he posted outstanding speed and explosiveness numbers with a 4.40 in the 40-yard dash, 42-inch vertical and 126-inch broad jump. Had been invited to the combine and posted these numbers there, he would have been 8th among all defensive backs for the 40-yard dash and 3rd in the vertical jump.


Bernard-Converse can play any of the secondary positions having played primarily as a safety in 2018 and 2019 and mainly as an outside cornerback in 2020 and 2021. He played three games at safety at LSU but was on the outside for the rest of the season. Within these roles, he played a lot of press-man and off-man coverages.

While at the safety position, he played a mixture of deep, in the box and matched up in the slot.

Coverage skills

Although he was used in a variety of different ways, Bernard-Converse certainly seemed to have the most success when he was keeping everything in front of him rather than turning to run with his man.

His hips seems stiff coming out of transitions, which can make it difficult for him to accelerate fast enough to stay tight with his man. He also doesn’t help himself because his technique is inconsistent.

This results in him being susceptible to passes over the top and he gave up a lot of big plays and 19 touchdowns in coverage over the course of his career, even though he only gave up a completion on 56 percent of his targets.

Frustratingly, there are occasionally reps where he stays with his man impressively and makes a play on the ball but these seemed rare.

At the NFL level, veteran quarterbacks and receivers are more likely to punish the slightest mistake, which is perhaps why many draft analysts felt he projects better as a safety.

Ball skills

Bernard-Converse racked up 27 passes defensed during his career, although he only had four interceptions. In 2021, his 11 pass break-ups led the Big 12 and were the ninth most in the FBS.

Scouting reports indicate that he has issues with turning his head to locate the ball on downfield throws, but that tends to be on plays like this one where he simply doesn’t have time to get his head turned due to the issue we highlighted earlier, namely that he often doesn’t unlock his hips smoothly enough to stay in close contact with his man.

As you can see on this play, when Bernard-Converse does a better job of staying in phase, he can locate the ball early and position himself to make a play on it.

This is perhaps because he plays press-bail rather than bump-and-run or downfield latch coverage, each of which require him to turn more quickly.

On this play, Bernard-Converse steps in front of the receiver for a key interception, closing well on the ball after initially doing a good job of slowing up his man coming off the line and staying with him as he broke back to the inside.


Bernard-Converse shows exceptional closing speed and generally does a solid job of limiting yards after the catch. He averaged less than five missed tackles per season and only had four in the past two seasons. He had been an inconsistent tackler in 2020 though.

In most of his highlights, Bernard-Converse shows that he has a knack for dragging down ball carriers and receivers, using his length to reach beyond his frame. Ideally, you’d like to see more plays where he stops the runner in his tracks rather than occasionally allowing them to fall forward at the end of a run.

Bernard-Converse forced two fumbles in his career, one on a blitz and the other as he dragged down a receiver from behind.

Run defense

Bernard-Converse made good contributions against the run whether he was playing at safety or cornerback. His grades have been consistent too and he was disciplined in terms of maintaining contain and avoiding being blocked out of plays.

When playing the slot or at safety, he shows a willingness to crash down or come up into the box to get in on a play. He didn’t blow up many plays behind the line though.

Here’s a good play Bernard-Converse made on the outside while playing with the goal line defense.


Bernard-Converse is a physical player in coverage, whether jamming a receiver at the line, leaning on him to slow his progress up the field or competing at the catch-point.

In 2022, he only had one defensive holding penalty and one for pass interference, both of which were declined. However, he had 13 defensive penalties in his first four seasons, including seven in 2021 and he will often play right up to the limit with receivers regularly feeling they should have got a call.

Bernard-Converse also shows toughness and displays a willingness to be physical on special teams and in run defense.


Bernard-Converse hasn’t blitzed very often and has only really created pressure by coming off the edge unblocked. He had four sacks in his five seasons, though.

With his closing speed and ability to drag down ball carriers who are trying to get away from him, he could potentially be more impactful in this role if he got more chances to rush the passer.

Special teams

Bernard-Converse has had a few good moments on special teams and has seen work in a variety of roles, but his overall production hasn’t been particularly significant.

His best moment came in his freshman year when he blocked a punt that was returned for a touchdown.

He has rushed punts more often than playing the vice role on the kick return unit and has also had occasional success generating pressure off the edge on field goals and extra points.

While he played kick coverage at Oklahoma State, Bernard-Converse didn’t register a single special teams tackle for them, although he did have one penalty.

With his athleticism and physicality, you might imagine that he could be a good punt gunner, but he didn’t really get to play that role until he got to LSU and then in limited action as a gunner for the Tigers, the most significant thing he did was to commit a fair catch interference penalty.

At LSU, Bernard-Converse made two tackles on kickoffs, both on long returns, including one where he chased the return man down from behind for a touchdown-saving tackle, although there was a holding penalty on the play anyway so it didn’t matter.

He played a couple of snaps as a blocker on the kick return unit but didn’t return any kicks or punts in college.


Bernard-Converse, who was a first-team all-Big 12 academic selection twice and a second-teamer once, impressed with his ability to play multiple roles and is about as experienced as you can get with 64 career games played, including 56 starts.

Questions remain, however, about whether he would have the instincts to handle a deep center-fielder role. While he can react and recover and doesn’t seem to make a lot of mental errors, you can’t afford to hesitate or take false steps at the NFL level and that’s something you’ll see from Bernard-Converse at times.

One of his interceptions at LSU was a good sign if the plan is to ultimately move him back to safety, though. His man ran a deep route and he basically passed him to the deep safety and came off the assignment to range across and pick off a deep ball.

He also shows some good qualities in terms of his ability to make quick reads and exploit his excellent closing speed to blow up plays near the line.


As noted, Bernard-Converse has a ton of experience, so the younger players looked up to him at LSU and towards the end of his Cowboys career. At Oklahoma State he was said to be steady, humble and influential but not a vocal leader. However, at LSU, he did develop into a vocal leader by all accounts.

There were some Cowboys fans that were a little taken aback by his decision to transfer, especially after he had been talking about coming back for a fifth season as a key leader for the team. It’s thought that some of the bigger schools were able to tempt players like Bernard-Converse with significant NIL deals.

His on-field discipline hasn’t been too bad, but he did have an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after one of his interceptions last season.


Bernard-Converse was fortunate enough to stay healthy throughout his career, although he did get knocked out of one game with a head injury. He cleared concussion protocol during the week and played in the next game.

In spring practice before the 2022 season, Bernard-Converse suffered a Jones fracture in his foot which required surgery and left him unable to practice all spring, but he was healthy in time to start the season.

Scheme Fit

As noted, Bernard-Converse can play and has played a multitude of roles, so it will be interesting to see where and how they will use him.

The most obvious hole is a center-fielder, but he could also compete for reps in the slot. Or, who knows, perhaps the Jets think some of his technical deficiencies when playing on the outside are fixable and they actually see potential in him as a cornerback on the outside.

As he’s a player who is susceptible to being beaten over the top and impressive when is reacting to the action in front of him, he could project well in zone-press schemes where he will be able to pass off his man into downfield coverage and pick up underneath routes. The Jets use these looks so he might have been targeted with that in mind.

He could also just be a utility player who can learn every role and be ready to fill in. He profiles athletically similar to former-Robert Saleh favorite Jimmie Ward, so perhaps that’s the kind of role they see for Bernard-Converse in the future.


Bernard-Converse is an interesting prospect and the Jets may have a plan for him, or could just be intrigued by his athletic make-up and keen to work with him to see how he could best be employed at the pro level.

His highlight film has plenty of impressive plays, but if you dig deeper there are also plenty of negatives, especially in coverage. If the Jets feel that they can mitigate these negatives by using him situationally or by working on fixable aspects of his technique, he could develop into a useful contributor with a bright future.