Full Breakdown of the New York Jets Secondary Ahead of Training Camp

Aidan MackieSenior Analyst IJuly 12, 2014

Full Breakdown of the New York Jets Secondary Ahead of Training Camp

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    Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

    An exceptionally strong secondary always seems to be the trademark of a Rex Ryan-led defense, and the New York Jets hope that can be the case once again in 2014. 

    The unit has seen its share of reshuffling the last couple of years, and its production has dropped off after the departure of perennial All-Pro Darrelle Revis. 

    Nonetheless, John Idzik and Co. have managed to stock the secondary with young, talented players who are ready to make an impact. 

    With training camp just a couple of weeks away, let's break down Gang Green's secondary ahead of the season. 

Depth Chart at Cornerback

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    Rich Schultz/Getty Images

    Left Cornerback

    1. Dee Milliner
    2. Kyle Wilson
    3. Ras-I Dowling
    4. Lowell Rose
    5. Johnny Patrick
    6. Brandon Dixon

     

    Right Cornerback

    1. Dimitri Patterson
    2. Darrin Walls
    3. Dexter McDougle
    4. Ellis Lankster
    5. Jeremy Reeves

     

    New York has 11 cornerbacks on the current roster, but this number will nearly be cut in half by the time September rolls around. 

    Rose, Patrick and Reeves have little-to-no chance of making the final roster, as they are all journeyman-type players who are best reserved for the practice squad. 

    Dixon, a sixth-round pick in this offseason's draft, needs an impressive training camp to make the team in a loaded crop of defensive backs. The Northwest Missouri State product has to learn the playbook and adjust to the NFL style of play quickly, but he does have one thing going for him already: his height. At 6'0'', the 24-year-old brings much-needed size to the secondary. 

    Lankster and Wilson will probably spend the majority of the season in the slot, where they thrive. They both possess good speed but don't have the cover skills to play on the outside. Coach Ryan loves having multiple defensive backs on the field, though, so expect to see the pair quite a bit once again in 2014. 

    McDougle, Patterson and Walls will likely compete for the No. 2 job opposite Dee Milliner. The favorite has to be Patterson at the moment, as the 31-year-old has years of starting experience and the ability to make big plays. However, he can be exposed in coverage by speedier wideouts. 

    McDougle is a tough and physical player, but he's a long shot to start in Week 1. His lack of size (5'10") and inexperience are against him, but he should take away a lot of Lankster's playing time and emerge as a solid slot corner in his rookie year. 

    Walls was surprisingly solid when asked to be on the field a year ago, but with the sheer number of talented corners on the team's roster, it's difficult to gauge his playing time.

    Dowling is an interesting figure, as he boasts decent cover skills but has been hampered by injuries throughout most of his career.

     

    Prediction for Final Depth Chart at Cornerback 

    1. Dee Milliner
    2. Dimitri Patterson
    3. Kyle Wilson
    4. Dexter McDougle
    5. Darrin Walls
    6. Ellis Lankster
    7. Brandon Dixon

Depth Chart at Safety

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    Rich Schultz/Getty Images

    Strong Safety

    1. Calvin Pryor
    2. Dawan Landry
    3. Josh Bush

     

    Free Safety

    1. Antonio Allen
    2. Jaiquawn Jarrett
    3. Rontez Miles
    4. Brandon Hardin

     

    The Jets surprised many by taking Pryor with their first-round pick as opposed to one of the many talented wide receivers and corners who were on the board.

    Pryor is the kind of player Rex Ryan loves, though. The Louisville product hits hard and makes big plays on a consistent basis, and he can contribute immediately against both the passing and running games. 

    His presence does mean that Dawan Landry will see a lot less playing time in his second year in green and white. Landry was serviceable last season, but the Jets struggled against tight ends and a few slot receivers. The veteran will still see the field in 2014, but it could be just to spell Pryor or Antonio Allen at times. 

    Allen won the free safety job in training camp last year and, despite having some bumps in the road, put together a pretty solid year. The South Carolina product plays hard and has the size at 6'1" to compete with bigger wideouts. With an offseason in the starting role under his belt, he should improve this season. 

    The fourth and likely final safety spot will go to either Jaiquawn Jarrett or Josh Bush. Jarrett is likely to win the battle, though, as Bush has yet to flesh out a role with the team. 

     

    Final Depth Chart Prediction at Safety

    1. Calvin Pryor
    2. Antonio Allen
    3. Dawan Landry
    4. Jaiquawn Jarrett

Offseason Additions and Subtractions

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Notable Additions: Calvin Pryor, Dimitri Patterson, Dexter McDougle, Brandon Dixon

    Notable Subtractions: Antonio Cromartie

    In terms of volume, the Jets improved their secondary this offseason. However, in truth, that may not be the case. 

    New York let former Pro Bowler Antonio Cromartie test the waters of free agency, and he ultimately latched on with the Arizona Cardinals

    Cromartie had a bad year in 2013, but his poor performance can be attributed to a nagging hip injury that he played through for the majority of the year. 

    Unless team doctors didn't think he could fully recover from the injury, it's odd that New York was so nonchalant about retaining him this offseason. 

    The Jets' replacements for Cromartie are made up of largely unproven commodities. Pryor, McDougle and Dixon are all rookies who haven't played a single snap of professional football with pads on. 

    Patterson is a well-worn veteran, but there has to be some injury concerns with him, as he has suffered through health issues for much of his career. 

How Did the Unit Fare in 2013?

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    The Jets secondary did take a step back in 2013, as the unit ranked 23rd in the league with just less than 250 passing yards allowed per contest. 

    The unit also allowed 26 touchdowns through the air and lacked playmaking ability, recording just 13 picks on the year. 

    It's not like the Jets squared off against a flurry of explosive passing attacks either. Outside of an impressive performance against Drew Brees and the Saints, the secondary mostly disappointed against mediocre to subpar opponents. 

    The secondary did play better in the last couple of games of the year, but it's difficult to see if this was a sign of long-term improvement. They were facing off against the Browns and Dolphins, who aren't known for their aerial offenses. 

    In all, the unit was the weaker part of Gang Green's defense. The run defense thrived, ranking third in the league in rushing yards per game, but the front seven's brilliance was often undone by the poor play of the defensive backfield. 

What Lies Ahead in 2014?

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    The Jets better hope their young secondary is fully prepared by the time September rolls around, as the defensive backs will immediately be thrown into the fire. 

    After a Week 1 contest against the lowly Raiders, New York's defense must face off against the likes of Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, Jay Cutler and the Bears, Matthew Stafford and the Lions, Philip Rivers and the Chargers, Peyton Manning and the Broncos, and Tom Brady and the Patriots consecutively over a six-week span. 

    Those are some of the best passing attacks in the game today, and New York must play all of them in the season's first half. 

    If Calvin Pryor and the secondary can somehow keep the team afloat over that period, the schedule lightens up considerably down the stretch. 

    But still, that murderers' row of premier passing attacks so early on in the season should have Jets fans worried, as the team is expected to start a rookie, a second-year guy, a third-year player and a veteran journeyman who was just signed this offseason. It may take a couple of weeks for them to mesh. 

    Will they be prepared? We'll find out very early in the year. 

     

    *All depth charts cited are courtesy of Ourlads