Bryce Hall’s emergence opens up a bunch of possibilities for Joe Douglas and the New York Jets.
When the New York Jets didn’t sign any free agent cornerbacks this offseason, concerns quickly arose about their ability to stop NFL offenses.
Coming into the season, the entire unit only had nine career starts under their belt. Seven of those were from Bryce Hall, a Jets’ fifth-round selection from the 2020 NFL draft.
Now, 11 games into the 2021 season, the Virginia product is playing well enough to open up future possibilities for the team.
Bryce Hall’s name is starting to be known now, but if it wasn’t for an unfortunate ankle injury, he would have already been known to a more widespread degree.
At Virginia, Hall was an elite playmaker who possessed all the desirable traits in an NFL cornerback: size, intelligence and fearlessness, to name a few. His 91.2 PFF grade was the highest in the country coming into his senior season, and his forced incompletion percentage of 24.8 was second-best in college football.
Before the injury, experts labeled Hall as a player with Day 1 potential, who could fall to Day 2. He ended up being selected on Day 3, 158th overall—taken by the New York Jets.
The fifth-round pick spent all of the 2020 offseason rehabilitating his injury and wasn’t able to practice for the Jets until late October of the 2020 NFL season.
Once healthy enough to play, the kid was quickly thrown into the fire in his return to the field.
In his first game of 2020, he would have to face the duo of Mike Williams and Keenan Allen—one of the best wide receiver duos in the entirety of the NFL. Hall would end up playing a great game (as you can see highlighted by Robby Sabo here), coming up big on multiple drives for the Jets defense.
For the rest of the season, Hall would continue to showcase his intelligence and athleticism; proving he could handle the task of slowing down the opposing team’s wide receivers (though he would struggle against non-receivers in coverage).
Despite the admirable showing in his rookie campaign, few thought he would be able to take the much-needed leap into elite level of play in the 2021 season (including DC Jeff Ulbrich). When the team cut Bless Austin and refused to add significant talent to the position, fans had little optimism for this incredibly inexperienced cornerback group.
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The Emergence of Bryce Hall
Coming into the season, second-year cornerback Bryce Hall was given CB1 duties. As we head into Week 13 of this year, he can hold his head high.
As it stands, Hall has the 16th-best coverage grade per PFF among cornerbacks with at least 350 coverage snaps this season. He’s been targeted the 27th-most among all cornerbacks, making him one of the better cover corners in the NFL right now.
Bryce Hall is also one of only three cornerbacks (under the snap coverage criteria above) who have yet to miss a tackle this season.
Leading up to Week 12, Hall had the third-best coverage grade among all second-year cornerbacks this season.
Highest coverage grades among second year CB’s this season
1️⃣ A.J. Terrell: 86.1
2️⃣ Kristian Fulton: 76.1
3️⃣ Bryce Hall: 74.9 ✈️ pic.twitter.com/ygIXVQlOoz
— PFF NY Jets (@PFF_Jets) November 25, 2021
Despite being labeled as strictly a zone-cover scheme cornerback coming into the NFL, Hall has played tremendous man-coverage this season. Hall is fifth in the NFL in man coverage grade among cornerbacks with at least 350 total coverage snaps, per PFF.
It isn’t just his coverage ability that is helping the Jets’ defense; Hall can also get after the quarterback when asked to do so, as he’s currently ranked 15th by PFF at his position, already owning a sack and two hurries on the season.
On this play, Hall’s pressure forces Tyrod Taylor to step right into a sack by John Franklin-Myers.
John Franklin-Myers's (#91) first sack was the result of a big blitz, where David Johnson (#31) is shocked by Bryce Hall (#37) blitzing off the edge, and gets too deep up the pocket. Franklin-Myers cleans up. pic.twitter.com/B5tCsy3AJR
— Matt (Double__Underscore) Weston (@Matt__Weston) December 1, 2021
Bryce Hall continues to show tremendous instincts as a player – something that he’s carried with him from college.
Highlights from a flawless coverage performance by Bryce Hall vs. Miami
– 40 coverage snaps
– 0 first downs allowed
– 0 missed tackles
– 0 TD allowed
– 0 penalties#Jets pic.twitter.com/uoPgWHzNXl
— Michael Nania (@Michael_Nania) November 23, 2021
While the defense continues to adjust and this young cornerback group grows into their own, the sky is the limit for Bryce Hall’s potential.
As this season continues, Hall’s proving to be one of the few valuable assets of a poor 2020 draft class – and part of a foundation to build on the defense.
Understanding that Bryce Hall is, at the very least, starting cornerback material in the NFL, will allow the New York Jets the freedom to not worry about cornerback as much as conventional wisdom would have previously suggested.