Some New York Jets fans have wondered if D.J. Reed could play in the slot
Back in March, the New York Jets signed former Seattle Seahawks cornerback D.J. Reed to a three-year, $33 million contract. At that price, it’s clear that Reed will be a starter for this Jets team – but exactly where will he be playing?
Reed’s small frame (5-foot-9, 193 pounds) has led some to believe that he is a slot corner. But that’s not the case. Reed actually played the majority of his defensive snaps on the outside in 2021. Specifically, Reed stuck to the right side of the field on nearly all of his snaps after moving from left cornerback to right cornerback in Week 4.
At the moment, the Jets’ presumed starting cornerback trio seems to include Reed at right cornerback, Sauce Gardner at left cornerback, and Michael Carter II in the slot. However, this trio leaves out an intriguing young player who impressed a lot of people in 2021: Bryce Hall.
In his second NFL season, Hall showed flashes of becoming a solid starter as he racked up 16 passes defended, which tied him for sixth-best among cornerbacks. He also allowed only 0.96 yards per coverage snap, which ranked 36th-best out of 96 qualified cornerbacks (63rd percentile).
There were some holes in Hall’s game – he gave up six touchdowns and failed to record an interception – but overall, he seemed to do a fine job in his age-24 season.
One proposal that I have seen brought up by some Jets fans is the concept of moving Reed into the slot so Hall can retain his starting job on the outside. Some fans have taken a more situational approach to this idea, proposing that the Jets could move Reed into the slot on passing downs to make room for Hall to get some occasional reps on the outside.
Is this a feasible plan? Let’s dive into the numbers.
Comparing D.J. Reed’s performance by position
I went back throughout Reed’s four-year career and compiled his numbers in 25 games where he played the majority of his team’s coverage snaps.
Here are Reed’s coverage numbers in those games based on the position he played (if you’re reading on mobile, you’ll want to scroll right to see all of the data):
|Position||GP||Cover Snaps||Comp||Tgt||Yds||TD||INT||Yds/Snap||QB Rating|
Based on the numbers, it is clear that playing Reed in the slot would be a bad idea.
In fact, it would be a bad idea to play Reed anywhere but right cornerback. Reed’s body of work on that side of the field is astounding. On the left side, he has struggled.
Barring something unforeseen, D.J. Reed will be the Jets’ right cornerback. The left-side spot will go to Sauce Gardner. That leaves the slot role, which Michael Carter II will presumably hold onto after a good rookie season.
Hall, who played only one snap in the slot last season, does not seem like a fit to play in the slot, so he will have to settle for a backup role on the outside.
It’s a tough break for Hall, but for the Jets, having a player of Hall’s caliber in a backup role is a privilege. Throw in Brandin Echols and the Jets’ second-string cornerback group is looking pretty reliable in comparison to the typical set of backup corners you see in the NFL.