The film proves that NY Jets rookie cornerback Brandin Echols can do a lot for any defense he plays in thanks to his versatility.
After selecting two cornerbacks and two hybrid linebacker/safeties with the previous four picks of the 2021 NFL draft, the New York Jets found themselves on the clock in the sixth round with pick No. 200.
With many needs still on the team, including linebacker, edge, tight end, right guard and more, fans expected the Jets to attempt to fill one of those positions. They had to go in one of those directions, right?
Nope. Instead, the Jets tripled down on the cornerback position, selecting Kentucky’s Brandin Echols, effectively throwing darts at the defense’s (and arguably the entire team’s) greatest position of need.
Do I think the Jets had it in ink that they had to pick another cornerback at this spot? No, but they followed one of my primary beliefs in the later rounds of the NFL draft: select elite athletic traits or draft talent that fell because of injuries.
The Jets decided to go with the former, in drafting Echols. It just happened to also represent a position of need, which is an added bonus.
Echols showed out those elite athletic traits by posting a 4.36-second 40-yard dash, 1.46-second 10-yard split, 42.5-inch vertical jump and 136-inch broad jump. All of the numbers fell within the 90th+ percentile.
Sprinkle in the idea that the kid’s versatility allows him to play both inside and out, and it all adds up to a good starting point, to say the least. (Echols’ skillset suits him more as an outside guy, but inside is possible, as he’s already seen some action there within the Jets defense this spring.)
Let’s take a look at some plays showcasing Echols’ major strengths and weaknesses. Below, you will also find a full list of strengths and weaknesses and an episode of Blewett’s Blitz breaking down Brandin Echols’ collegiate tape.
Full Blewett’s Blitz Film Review
Highlighted strength: Recognition in cover 3 role
Brandin Echols (top) is in a deep-third zone of this cover 3 buzz. He backpedals as he reads the route/stem of the No. 1 wide receiver (closest to sideline).
If the No. 1 takes a “vertical stem,” he will match it. No. 1 runs a delayed slant as a part of this “knife” concept (smash variation). So, Echols opens his hips to read the quarterback, then gets his eyes on the No. 2 field weapon as that’s his next threat/read. He gets his eyes on the wideout and stays over top of the route.
Highlighted weakness: Size/strength
This isn’t the most jarring play to showcase this weakness, but to give you a peek behind the curtain, the film didn’t provide much to work.
Echols lines up over the top of the field-side No. 1 weapon (bottom), as the offense motions the running back outside to set up the swing screen. The No. 1 receiver stalk-blocks Echols, but the Jets rookie is aggressive in taking on the block, wins the leverage battle and lands his hands inside. With all of those positives, he still finds himself slightly lifted off of his feet and driven backward.
Echols fights to get outside and in on the tackle, but with a better block (yet alone a stronger wide receiver), he is most likely driven completely out of this play.
- Athleticism (posted 4.35-second 40-yard dash, 42.5-inch vertical jump, 1.46-second 10-yard split, 136-inch broad jump)
- Plays deep third of cover 3 well (mostly)
- Good shuffle/bail
- Reps of playing the ball well
- Anticipation of route breaks
- Doesn’t commit hips to run deep too early
- Trust speed/uses it well
- Willing tackler
- Good recognition/awareness
- Small for outside and too tight to play inside
- Can struggle to shed blocks/bring down the ball carrier
- Can position himself better to attack the ball
- Tighter hips
- Can open hips early in off (allow short balls)
- Jumpy in press
- Lets the wide receiver work into blind spot in press bail