C.J. Mosley, Marcus Maye highlight candidates to lead the New York Jets in interceptions
The back end of the New York Jets defense features an interesting mix of unproven young players and high-upside veterans. Players like C.J. Mosley and Marcus Maye offer top-tier potential, but much of the rest of the secondary will be comprised of rookies and second-year players.
Who will end up leading the Jets defense in interceptions? Will it be a veteran like Mosley or Maye? Or will one of the youngsters break out?
Mosley has 10 interceptions in his career. The rest of the Jets roster has 13 combined.
With those 10 picks coming over 79 games, Mosley has collected an average of 2.2 interceptions per 17 games.
Mosley had a career-high of four interceptions back in the 2016 season. It does not seem far-fetched to think he has a chance to reach that number again in 2021. He will be playing in a 4-3 defense that emphasizes coverage ability at the linebacker position, and he has slimmed down to 231 pounds to increase his mobility.
Maye enters the 2021 season with six career picks in 54 games. That’s an average of 1.9 interceptions per 17 games.
Maye has been consistent with his interception production but has yet to show a high ceiling. Over his four NFL seasons, he has snagged two, one, one, and two interceptions.
The Jets appear to be planning on using Maye at strong safety, so his interception potential could take a hit due to a decrease in the number of snaps in which he lines up deep. However, it should be noted that Robert Saleh’s defenses tend to use the strong safety and free safety more interchangeably than most other teams.
Lamarcus Joyner is set to be the Jets’ starting free safety.
Joyner has only four picks in 95 games, an average of 0.7 per 17 games. He has not picked off a pass since 2018.
However, Joyner was a decent interceptor during his two seasons as the Rams’ starting free safety. All four of his career interceptions came from 2017-18, the only two years of his career in which he was a starting safety. Playing 27 games over that span, Joyner averaged 2.5 interceptions per 17 games.
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Bryce Hall is the Jets’ lone surefire starting cornerback after the release of Bless Austin. It is unknown who the Jets plan to start at right cornerback and slot cornerback.
Hall had one interception in eight games as a rookie. He was not a great interceptor in college, collecting five picks over 42 games (2.0 per 17 games).
Hall’s game is predicated more so upon pass deflections than interceptions. In 2018, his total of 21 passes defended was tops in all of college football.
Rookie cornerbacks Brandin Echols, Jason Pinnock, Michael Carter II, and Isaiah Dunn will all be in the mix for playing time in the secondary. Second-year man Javelin Guidry is competing against Carter II to start in the slot.
Here are the collegiate career interception numbers for those five players:
- Pinnock: 6 in 30 games (3.4 per 17 games)
- Carter II: 4 in 42 games (1.6 per 17 games)
- Guidry: 3 in 38 games (1.3 per 17 games)
- Echols: 1 in 24 games (0.7 per 17 games)
- Dunn: 0 in 29 games
Linebackers Jamien Sherwood and Hamsah Nasirildeen could also compete for the interception title. Sherwood should have the advantage over Nasirildeen as he is projected to be an every-down starter beside Mosley in Week 1 while Nasirldeen handles the team’s LB3 role, likely playing somewhere from 30 to 40 percent of the snaps.
Both playing safety in college, Sherwood had one interception in 34 games while Nasirildeen had four interceptions in 35 games.
Cool Your Jets Podcast Episode
On the latest episode of the Cool Your Jets podcast, Ben Blessington and Michael Nania predict who will lead the Jets in interceptions while previewing the Jets’ 2021 season through a multitude of other mailbag questions.