New York Jets rookie Jamien Sherwood is facing a challenging transition to NFL linebacker, and Blewett’s Blitz breaks down his tape.
After hammering offense with the first four picks of the 2021 NFL draft, the New York Jets finally turned to defense with their 146th (fifth round) overall pick. Auburn safety Jamien Sherwood was the man Joe Douglas happily selected.
Initially seeing Sherwood listed as a safety set Jets fans back. The team already employs plenty of safeties, Marcus Maye, Lamarcus Joyner, Ashtyn Davis and others, so why safety in this particular spot? The Jets didn’t need a fourth-string depth safety before addressing needs such as cornerback and linebacker.
Then, once the emotions settled down and the smoke clears a bit, research is done. The first noticeable thing is his size. Sherwood stands 6-foot-2 and weighs 220 pounds, and is equipped with 34-inch arms, which is a tremendous arm length for an offensive tackle, no less a safety or linebacker.
Yes, Sherwood is on the smaller side, but this isn’t 1986 anymore; defenders listed at 220 pounds typically play at standup linebacker. (Deion Jones is just one example, a man who developed very well in Atlanta under now-Jets defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich).
Sherwood’s transition to linebacker could be a bit challenging at first, but it’s a sound decision. Sherwood lined up all over the field for the Auburn Tigers, including at free safety, strong safety, linebacker and even some reps in the slot. While he was fairly successful in each role, his limited athleticism in some areas and the overall physicality of his game definitely projects him to be most successful lining up primarily in the box as a WILL backer.
He will have to compete for the starting spot along with the 186th overall pick (sixth round) Hamsah Nasirildeen and oft-injured Blake Cashman. But past those two players, the Jets very little at linebacker, giving Sherwood a rare chance to see significant snaps as a fifth-round pick.
Does he have what it takes to thrive at linebacker for the Jets?
Let’s take a look at some plays showcasing Sherwood’s major strengths and weaknesses. Below, you will also find a full list of strengths and weaknesses. Plus, we unveil the latest video film breakdown episode of Blewett’s Blitz where I discuss and show everything Jamien Sherwood.
We see two of Sherwood’s (furthermost right of screen) strengths show up on this first play—both his ability to direct/communicate to his teammates pre-snap and his physical strength.
The ball is snapped and Sherwood races outside to maintain his outside leverage. He forces the run inside on this inside/mid-zone rush attempt. Sherwood drops his weight as the right tackle closes ground, but he still gets caught by the RT’s right hand. Sherwood shows strength as he is able to absorb the blow, then rips the right wrist down with his left hand. Sherwood fights to get inside as the running back angles upfield and gets in on the tackle.
Sherwood (Moving near the bottom of the screen, over the wide receiver on the line of scrimmage) seems to be the curl-flat player of this defensive set. So he knows he has over-the-top help, which allows him to be aggressive on the play. It’s something you can tell early based on the alignment of the offense. He recognizes the bubble screen coming to the No. 3 wide receiver.
Sherwood gets downhill fast as the ball is snapped, gets caught in the chest by the receiver (needs to improve hand placement) but again shows his strength as he is able to absorb the contact. Sherwood does this while working past the WR, drops his weight and jerks/pulls the WR to shed the block. He then gets to the WR a split-second after he catches the ball, eventually dives and makes the tackle for loss.
Sherwood is an incredible strategic gamble. With a huge need at WILL Linebacker, the Jets passed on JOK at 34, and at the top of the fourth round 107 passed on Jabril Cox. The Jets invested their first four picks ( and their two third round picks ) on the Offense. Like the pick, it’s a risk, but Saleh has a vision. Sherwood is a smart player, believe he is a bigger hitter than JOK & Cox. Can’t remember when a fifth round pick development was so fascinating to watch.
The ILB battle is definitely going to be my favorite one to watch this offseason. Two Day 3 rookies and an oft-injured third-year Day 3 guy battling for the starting WILL spot next to a star in Mosley – all under two coaches in Saleh and Ulbrich who have amazing track records in LB development. Going to be awesome!