Illinois safety Tony Adams will try to break into an unproven New York Jets safety unit
The New York Jets entered the 2022 NFL draft with some unknowns at the free safety position in both the short and long-term. There seemed to be a chance that Joe Douglas could address the position with a second new starter this offseason alongside strong safety Jordan Whitehead. While the Jets re-signed veteran Lamarcus Joyner, no outside additions were made to the position.
The draft came and went without any selections being allocated toward the safety group. However, the Jets signed a safety following the draft: Tony Adams from Illinois.
Here are some of the most important things for Jets fans to know about Adams.
Adams joins the Jets with quality experience under his belt. He spent all five of his college years at Illinois (2017-21) and played in 41 games.
He recorded 206 total tackles (career-best of 63 in 2021), 11.5 tackles for loss (career-best of four in 2018), three sacks, six interceptions (at least one each year), and 11 passes defended (career-best of five in 2021).
In 12 games played during the 2021 season, Adams had at least five total tackles in seven games. In three of six games Adams played in 2020, he recorded at least 10 total tackles.
Physical measurables and athletic testing
Adams has a solid frame for a safety at 5-foot-11 and 203 pounds with 31″ arms.
He performed exceptionally well athletically as he finished with a 9.76 Relative Athletic Score (RAS). His explosion grades were elite with a 41.5″ vertical jump and a 130″ broad jump.
In terms of speed, Adams had great 10 and 20-yard split times at 1.52 and 2.56, respectively. His 40-yard dash time was stellar (4.47).
When it came to agility, Adams tested very well with a 20-yard shuttle time of 4.06. His 6.98 3-cone time was average and represented the lone athletic drill he did not test strongly in.
On the back end, Adams has the required size, speed, and range to make plays. He is a great athlete with excellent quickness.
Adams has prior experience playing cornerback which shows up with his ability in coverage and ball skills. The versatility he offers to the defensive backfield is a plus. Adams can play physical and is willing to tackle.
— PFDZ (@PFDZ44) January 6, 2018
#cgsallstar @BridgesFootball #NFLdraft #CFL #CFLDraft #CGS2022 #USFL #XFL
Tuesday morning. 1-on-1's.
13 Beaudry @_Beaudry_ @VandalFootball can't connect w 8 WR Gavin Garner @_Gavin_Garner_ Northwestern OK @NWOSU. Covered by 8 S Tony Adams @Iwill_suceed20 Illinois @IlliniFootball pic.twitter.com/zwlAZDOHQ8
— joelax (Joe Caulfield) (@joelax) January 17, 2022
Where it seems Adams may have to improve the most going forward is with his change of direction ability, which can show up in coverage. He can also improve at reading routes faster, sharpen his pursuit angles, and add strength to become a more consistent tackler.
Following his five collegiate years, Adams starts with the Jets as a 23-year-old rookie.
Jordan Whitehead is the only known commodity for the Jets at safety right now. He will start at strong safety.
From there, the chances seem strong at the moment that Lamarcus Joyner will start at free safety. There is, however, a plethora of depth between Ashtyn Davis, Jason Pinnock, Will Parks, and Elijah Riley, which could make things interesting.
The presence of those players will make it a tough competition for the two or three available backup roles.
For Adams, his versatility will improve his chances of making the final roster. He has the size, speed, and athletic ability to stick around and grow. Showing his range, ball skills, and ability in coverage early on will be key, as will showing the ability to contribute on special teams.