With the departure of Antonio Cromartie this offseason, the New York Jets are left with a hole to fill opposite shutdown CB Darrelle Revis. Luckily, the Jets are deep at the CB position and have a few qualified candidates. Head Coach Todd Bowles has stated that last year’s nickel corner, Buster Skrine, will open camp as the favorite to win the job. That being said, another CB winning the job is not at all out of the question. Strange things can happen in camp competition. For example, last year Quincy Enunwa replaced Jeremy Kerley as a starter in camp, which was a big surprise to everyone not named Chan Gailey. Here are some reasons why/why not Buster Skrine, Marcus Williams, or Dee Milliner could be the NY Jets #2 CB next season.
Why: Skrine’s biggest reasons to be the #2 CB next year are that he has starting experience and he is the favorite to win the job. Skrine may have been a nickel corner last year, but in the modern NFL with high-powered passing offenses, teams play nickel a good amount of the time. As a result, Skrine played in 68.5% of the team’s defensive snaps. Skrine knows the defense and his experience will give him an advantage over his more raw competitors.
Why not: Skrine has playing experience, but almost exclusively as a nickel corner. It could be that Skrine’s skillset simply doesn’t translate well to playing on the outside. Another option would be for Skrine to start games on the outside, but anytime there is a nickel package Skrine would go back to playing in the slot. Skrine has proven to be an above average slot corner, and if no one else on the New York Jets can fill that role he may very well stay there.
Why: Marcus Williams made his splash last year as an undrafted free agent by leading the Jets in interceptions despite only playing on 26.9% of defensive snaps. If Williams can show that this statistic wasn’t a fluke then he has a very bright future in the NFL. When Antonio Cromartie was injured last year, Williams was the next man up for Bowles, which shows that Bowles already thinks highly of Williams. Williams will at the very least be given a fair shot to win the job.
Why not: Interceptions are fickle and only the great ones such as Ed Reed and Charles Woodson have been able to consistently put up high interception numbers year in and year out. In 2007, ex-Jet Antonio Cromartie had 10 interceptions, yet he hasn’t had more than 4 in any other season. It is very possible that Williams was the beneficiary of good luck this past season and that he is not as much of a ball hawk as NY Jet fans would like him to be.
Why: Milliner showed flashes at the end of his rookie year of having a solid future in this league. The once top 10 pick certainly has potential, but a string of injuries has kept him off the field for most of his young career. Milliner is a long shot to win the job and would have to show Bowles the skills that got him drafted so highly if he has any shot of winning the job. If he can finally stay healthy, Milliner has a chance to prove himself.
Why not: Milliner might end up getting hurt in camp (again) and never living up to his potential. Milliner has played in just 3 games in the past 2 seasons due to litany of ankle, Achilles, and wrist injuries. Milliner has an incredibly poor track record of staying on the field, and even when he was healthy he was inconsistent.
To answer the question posed in the beginning of this piece, Skrine is the frontrunner, Williams has a decent chance, and Milliner is a long shot. If Skrine wins the spot, it is possible that Williams plays outside in nickel situations while Skrine stays in the slot.
Snap counts obtained from sportingcharts.com