The Jets finally addressed their biggest need position by bringing in Maryland cornerback Dexter McDougle with their third-round selection.
More than anything else, McDougle is known for his blazing speed. Boasting a 4.35-second 40-yard dash time, per NFL.com, McDougle can run with the fastest receivers in the game, resembling Sam Shields of the Green Bay Packers in that regard. He is explosive in and out of his breaks, as he is able to mirror receivers and recover quickly when he does get fooled by a route.
McDougle couples his speed with fluid hips, which are both necessary for effective man-to-man coverage. McDougle's combination of speed and athleticism will allow him to hold up well in Rex Ryan's scheme, which is heavy in said coverage.
With an excellent burn percentage of 89 percent, McDougle's pure coverage ability is not in question.
McDougle's speed will also come in handy as a blitzer, as he will be able to close in on quarterbacks as quickly as anyone else on the team. And if there is anyone who knows how to cook up a blitz pattern in order to get a free runner on a quarterback, it is Rex Ryan.
Because of his small size (5'10", 196 lbs), McDougle appears to be destined for the slot. His speed and agility also make him a perfect fit for the position, but there is concern as to whether or not he will be able to hold up against the run. Because they are used much more often in the modern game, slot cornerbacks are often asked to play like part-time linebackers—something McDougle may struggle to do at the next level.
What may have scared other teams away from McDougle more than anything else is his injury history. He played in just three game in 2013 because of a shoulder injury, and per Kimberley A. Martin of Newsday, he admitted to undergoing surgery in September:
A big reason why McDougle finds himself on the injury report so often is because of his tackling technique. He has a tendency to go for the big hit far too often, resulting in missed or partial tackles. His choppy technique, combined with his smaller size, lead to a lot of extra yards for the opponent as well as extra time on the trainer's table for McDougle.
Unlike speed, tackling technique can be taught. If McDougle can be at least an adequate tackler in the NFL, he will have no problem playing in the slot.
At first glance, there is no clear spot for McDougle on the team. The acquisition of Dimitri Patterson and the presence of Kyle Wilson will make it difficult for McDougle to find a significant role as a rookie, although the Jets will certainly give him the starting nod if he earns it in training camp.
It appears as if this selection was made with the future in mind, though. Wilson is set to hit the free-agent market in 2015, and the Jets want to fill the opening at slot corner before it opens next March.
The most likely scenario to unfold during McDougle's rookie season will be him seeing the field mostly in dime packages and on special teams while learning the NFL game. By the time 2015 rolls around, McDougle will be ready to take over for Wilson in the slot.
Ultimately, the selection of McDougle has a chance to give the Jets a virtual starter in a year's time, but they did pass on more touted prospects like Pierre Desir, who would have been able to start immediately on the outside.
Still, if McDougle can stay healthy, he may turn out to be an excellent pick for the Jets because of his speed and scheme fit with Rex Ryan's defense.