New York Jets rookie Jamien Sherwood is a jack-of-all-trades who has a chance to start for the team at WILL linebacker.
Jamien Sherwood was an extremely versatile defender at Auburn in 2020, frequently taking on numerous different assignments. Here is a breakdown of his snap distribution this past season:
- Inside linebacker: 28.0% of snaps
- Free safety: 27.8%
- Slot cornerback: 20.2%
- Strong safety: 16.7%
- Outside linebacker: 6.2%
- Outside cornerback: 1.0%
The Tigers typically had Sherwood play linebacker on third downs. On first and second down, he would roam the secondary.
Despite playing a lot of snaps in the box, Sherwood was rarely utilized as a blitzer. He rushed the quarterback on only 3.5% of his snaps in 2020 and 3.8% of his career snaps.
Sherwood had a 56%/44% split between zone and man coverage assignments, respectively, in the 2020 season.
Here are some of Sherwood’s measurables from his pro day and how they compare against safeties since 2000. Clearly, this is the profile of a safety who is big enough to transition over to linebacker.
- Height: 6′ 1¾” (79th percentile)
- Weight: 216 pounds (83rd)
- Wingspan: 81⅞” (97th)
- Arm length: 34″ (97th)
- Hand size: 10″ (90th)
- 10-yard split: 1.64 seconds (11th)
- 20-yard split: 2.82 seconds (1st)
- 40-yard dash: 4.76 seconds (5th)
- Vertical jump: 36″ (57th)
- Broad jump: 123″ (68th)
- 3-cone drill: 7.15 seconds (20th)
- 20-yard shuttle: 4.36 seconds (16th)
- Bench press: 15 reps (33rd)
Possessing top-notch size and length for the safety position but bottom-of-the-barrel speed and quickness, it’s clear that Sherwood’s best bet at NFL success will likely be at the linebacker position.
The lightest linebacker in the NFL last season was 215-pound Foyesade Oluokun of the Atlanta Falcons. New York Jets defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich was Oluokun’s linebackers coach-turned-defensive coordinator in Atlanta. Oluokun’s fellow starter, Deion Jones, was also one of the league’s smallest linebackers at 227 pounds. It’s clear that Ulbrich is looking to replicate the Falcons’ preference for small, athletic, and versatile linebackers.
Sherwood is known as a hard hitter, but more importantly, he finishes with consistency, rarely missing tackles. He had a 16.8-to-1 ratio of tackles to missed tackles in 2020, ranking 14th-best among FBS linebackers and safeties with at least 50 total tackles. His Pro Football Focus tackling grade of 91.2 ranked second-best among all qualified linebackers and safeties in the nation.
Sherwood is a solid run defender, posting a 71.1 PFF run defense grade in 2020 that ranked at the 76th percentile among qualified linebackers and safeties.
Since Sherwood typically lined up in the secondary on first and second down, his run-game role was usually as a contain man or last line of defense rather than in the trenches. In 2020, his average tackle in the run game took place 8.1 yards downfield.
Big play prevention in coverage
Sherwood may have only had one interception in his collegiate career, but he was a very solid cover man, rarely coughing up big plays. Over 724 coverage snaps and 62 targets in his career, Sherwood allowed one touchdown. He surrendered 352 yards, giving him a very strong mark of 5.8 yards per target allowed. In addition, Sherwood was knocked with allowing only one completion of 30+ yards in his career.
With fantastic zone coverage numbers, Sherwood projects well to a Jets defense that will likely be zone-heavy. In 2020, Sherwood allowed 147 yards across 26 targets in his direction while in zone coverage, an excellent average of 5.7 yards per target. On coverage snaps after dropping into zone coverage, he made 11 tackles and missed zero.
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