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Analytics behind New York Jets’ undrafted free agents | Defense

Lamar Jackson
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Could Joe Douglas and the New York Jets unearth a hidden gem on defense from their 2020 undrafted free agent class?

It seems that every year, each team’s undrafted free agent class produces one gem that goes on to become a respectable contributor.

For the Jets, Robby Anderson, Kyle Phillips, and Frankie Luvu are the most recent homegrown finds. Quality starters Steve McLendon (Steelers) and Brian Poole (Falcons) were also undrafted, in addition to 23 other players who appeared for the Jets in 2019.

Who will be this year’s needle in the haystack?

Let’s dig into the numbers behind the Jets’ 2020 undrafted free agent pickups, starting with the defensive side.

Lamar Jackson, Cornerback, Nebraska

Class: Senior

Height/Weight: 6’2″, 208

Hometown: Elk Grove, California

Positives: Jackson’s raw numbers in coverage are plenty good. In 2019, he logged 386 snaps in coverage and allowed 21 completions on 49 targets (42.8%) for 270 yards (5.5 per target), three touchdowns, and three interceptions. He ranked at the 93rd percentile in passer rating (55.7), the 91st percentile in yards per cover snap (0.70), and the 87th percentile in yards per target.

Those numbers were hardly a fluke, as Jackson was similarly productive in 2018. That season, he allowed a 37.9% completion rate, 6.5 yards per target, 0.84 yards per cover snap, a 3:2 touchdown-to-interception ratio, and a 63.6 passer rating.

Jackson is massive for a cornerback, standing at six-foot-two (94th percentile) and 208 pounds (also 94th percentile). His 32¼-inch arms rank at the 79th percentile.

Negatives: The problem with Jackson’s coverage numbers is that when you look at his play on the field, it seems highly unlikely he will transfer that production to the NFL. He showcases little technique or quickness, thriving off of his size alone with constant pushing and shoving. He got away with quite a few penalties and was bailed out by numerous drops and bad throws.

Check out Jackson’s 2019 targets here.

Jackson is also a poor tackler and run defender. He posted a 62.8 run defense grade and a 19.6% missed tackle rate in 2019, each mark well below average for the position.

Lengthy corners are desirable, but that extra size will go for naught if it is not accompanied by adequate athletic ability. Jackson does not seem to have enough athleticism to make up for his relatively large frame. Unfortunately, we did not get to see him run any drills besides the forty (4.58, 19th percentile) and bench press (10 reps, 13th percentile) at the Combine, but his lack of quickness shows up on film.

Javelin Guidry, Cornerback, Utah

Class: Junior

Height/Weight: 5’9″, 191

Hometown: Murrieta, California

Positives: Speed. Guidry was a California state champion in the 100-meter dash at Vista Murrieta High School, and was a national finalist in the 60 meters at Utah. At the Combine, he ran a 4.29 in the forty, tying him for the fourth-best time by a cornerback since 2000.

Guidry recorded a missed tackle rate of 9.6% in a 2019, a solid rate for a cornerback. His combination of speed and tackling efficiency gives him the potential to make it in the league as a gunner on special teams.

Negatives: Guidry has a ways to go until his athleticism can be used to wreak havoc in coverage. He was tagged with allowing 1.29 yards per cover snap in 2019, putting him at the 34th percentile among cornerbacks.

Bryce Huff, Edge Rusher, Memphis

Class: Junior

Height/Weight: 6’3″, 255

Hometown: Mobile, Alabama

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