Which defenses on the New York Jets schedule have the most talent at cornerback and safety?
13. Las Vegas Raiders
- 2019 cornerback ranking: 21st
- 2019 safety ranking: 17th
- Projected key cornerbacks: Prince Amukamara (FA – CHI), Damon Arnette (first-round pick), Lamarcus Joyner
- Projected key safeties: Damarious Randall (FA – CLE), Johnathan Abraham
- Notable losses: CB Daryl Worley (FA – DAL), S Karl Joseph (FA – CLE)
The Raiders secondary was solid against the run (boosting up their rankings above), but it was brutal in coverage, playing a huge role in the team allowing the second-highest opponent passer rating (103.8) of any team in the league.
Las Vegas did not hesitate to address their needs in coverage, signing Prince Amukamara and Damarious Randall while drafting Ohio State corner Damon Arnette in the first round.
12. Arizona Cardinals
- 2019 cornerback ranking: 25th
- 2019 safety ranking: 8th
- Projected key cornerbacks: Patrick Peterson, Byron Murphy, Kevin Peterson
- Projected key safeties: Budda Baker, Jalen Thompson, Isaiah Simmons (first-round pick)
- Notable losses: CB Tremaine Brock (currently unsigned)
Arizona allowed the highest passer rating of any team in 2019 (109.9), yielding an absurdly bad 38-to-7 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
After returning from a six-game suspension, Patrick Peterson was not himself, allowing a career-worst passer rating of 104.6. With zero additions made at cornerback and the same lackluster players returning to take on key roles, Arizona could be facing another brutal season in the secondary.
Budda Baker’s play-making against the run is the only bright spot. He led safeties with 31 run stops in 2019.
First-round pick Isaiah Simmons is an interesting wild card. The Clemson alum is a Swiss army knife that possesses the ability to play just about anywhere on the field. Perhaps the Cardinals lean towards their greatest weaknesses and use Simmons to patch up the holes in the secondary.
11. Indianapolis Colts
- 2019 cornerback ranking: 17th
- 2019 safety ranking: 10th
- Projected key cornerbacks: Xavier Rhodes (FA – MIN), Kenny Moore, Rock Ya-Sin
- Projected key safeties: Malik Hooker, Khari Willis
- Notable loss: S Clayton Geathers (currently unsigned)
Indianapolis has a solid young core of defensive backs with Moore, Ya-Sin, Hooker, and Willis. The major wild card is Xavier Rhodes, who is coming off of a brutal season in which he allowed a career-worst passer rating of 131.1.
It seems unlikely as he enters his 30s, but if Rhodes can recapture his elite play of the past, the Colts could have an excellent secondary. If not, the Colts will likely settle around the middle of the pack once again.
10. Kansas City Chiefs
- 2019 cornerback ranking: 7th
- 2019 safety ranking: 22nd
- Projected key cornerbacks: Bashaud Breeland, Charvarius Ward, Rashad Fenton
- Projected key safeties: Tyrann Mathieu, Juan Thornhill
- Notable loss: CB Kendall Fuller (FA – WAS)
Kendall Fuller is a big loss. In the playoffs, he allowed only 25 yards over three games.
Kansas City’s safeties allowed the third-lowest passer rating (66.5) of any team, but they struggled with missed tackles, whiffing at the fifth-highest rate both against the pass (14.7% of opportunities) and against the run (18.9%).
9. Cleveland Browns
- 2019 cornerback ranking: 10th
- 2019 safety ranking: 28th
- Projected key cornerbacks: Denzel Ward, Greedy Williams, Terrance Mitchell
- Projected key safeties: Karl Joseph (FA – LVR), Grant Delpit (second-round pick)
- Notable loss: S Damarious Randall (FA – LVR)
Denzel Ward is a bona fide No. 1 corner, allowing the sixth-lowest passer rating among qualified cornerbacks in 2019 (58.0) after ranking seventh in 2018 (70.7). Cleveland needs a second-year leap from Greedy Williams after he ranked at the 17th percentile among qualified cornerbacks with a Pro Football Focus coverage grade of 53.6.
Cleveland’s safeties were a major weakness in 2019. Heading into 2020, the position remains a weakness. Second-round pick Grant Delpit has tons of potential, but was a missed tackle machine at LSU and is likely to have growing pains in the NFL. Karl Joseph will boost the run defense but is a liability in coverage (9.4 yards per target allowed over career).
8. Los Angeles Rams
- 2019 cornerback ranking: 5th
- 2019 safety ranking: 15th
- Projected key cornerbacks: Jalen Ramsey, Troy Hill, Darious Williams
- Projected key safeties: Taylor Rapp, John Johnson
- Notable losses: CB Nickell Robey-Coleman (FA – PHI), S Eric Weddle (retired)
Los Angeles lost a couple of key pieces in Robey-Coleman and Weddle, who ranked seventh and 20th, respectively, in fewest yards allowed per cover snap at their positions.
Ramsey finished the season on a tear, allowing just 19.0 yards per game, zero touchdowns, and a 56.3 passer rating over his final five games.
7. Miami Dolphins
Italicized players were added in the 2020 offseason.
- 2019 cornerback ranking: 26th
- 2019 safety ranking: 31st
- Projected key cornerbacks: Xavien Howard, Byron Jones (FA – DAL), Noah Igbinoghene (first-round pick)
- Projected key safeties: Eric Rowe, Bobby McCain
Howard and Jones could form the best cornerback duo in the league. Jones allowed the fourth-fewest yards per cover snap among cornerbacks in 2019 (0.62). Howard struggled over a mere five appearances in 2019 as he battled injuries, but in 2018, he allowed the second-lowest passer rating among all corners (62.6).
Miami will need elite play from that duo to bail out the safeties. That position was an enormous issue for the Dolphins, and it is currently set to feature the same players who were responsible for those struggles in 2019.
6. Seattle Seahawks
- 2019 cornerback ranking: 11th
- 2019 safety ranking: 27th
- Projected key cornerbacks: Shaquill Griffin, Tre Flowers, Quinton Dunbar, Ugochukwu Amadi
- Projected key safeties: Quandre Diggs, Bradley McDougald
The Seahawks have major question marks at strong safety, CB2, and CB3, but they can rest a bit easier knowing there are a couple of studs headlining the unit. Shaquill Griffin earned PFF’s ninth-best overall grade (77.0) among cornerbacks. Over his seven games with the Seahawks after being traded from Detroit, Quandre Diggs earned an 80.7 grade from PFF, sixth-best among safeties from Week 10 through the Divisional round.
Dunbar brings upside after ranking fifth among qualified cornerbacks with a 56.9 passer rating allowed in 2019. However, he has had trouble with injuries (14 games missed since 2018) and is dealing with some off-field issues after an arrest warrant was issued for him in May. His 2019 season was also an extreme departure from his 2018 season, in which he allowed five touchdowns in only seven games.
5. Denver Broncos
- 2019 cornerback ranking: 23rd
- 2019 safety ranking: 4th
- Projected key cornerbacks: A.J. Bouye (Trade – JAX), Bryce Callahan, Isaac Yiadom
- Projected key safeties: Justin Simmons, Kareem Jackson
- Notable loss: CB Chris Harris (FA – LAC)
Justin Simmons has developed into a star for Denver. He was PFF’s highest-graded safety (90.7) on the strength of his excellent tackling (position-best 2.1% miss rate against the run) and lockdown coverage (32.1 passer rating allowed, lowest among qualifiers).
Next to Simmons is Kareem Jackson, PFF’s seventh-ranked safety in 2019 (82.3 grade). They make up one of the most dominant safety duos in the league.