Could the New York Jets move Jarrick Bernard-Converse to safety?
To learn more about the relatively unknown late-round pick, let’s dig into his analytical profile. We’ll break down his role, usage, strengths, weaknesses, and more – ultimately covering why he profiles as a player who might be suited for a positional change.
Jets 2023 draft class analytical profiles:
Bernard-Converse did not appear at the scouting combine but he did test at LSU’s pro day.
Here is a look at Benard-Converse’s measurements and drill performances from his pro day, and where they rank all-time among cornerback prospects according to Relative Athletic Score (a 0-to-10 scale representing percentile ranking; i.e. a 6.00 RAS is equal to the 60th percentile):
Bernard-Converse is an athletic specimen, boasting a RAS of 9.78 that ranked sixth-best among cornerbacks drafted in 2023. He recorded a blistering 40 time of 4.40 seconds – even more impressive was his 20-yard split of 2.47 (9.92 RAS), suggesting he has phenomenal acceleration and burst.
Further evidence of Bernard-Converse’s explosiveness is his 42″ vertical jump (9.90 RAS). Bernard-Converse did not perform all too well in the agility drills, however.
Bernard-Converse is a lengthy defensive back; his arm length of 32¼” places him at the 78th percentile for cornerbacks. He stands at 6’0½” and weighs 197 pounds.
Bernard-Converse was primarily utilized as an outside cornerback at LSU, lining up there for 69.9% of his defensive snaps in 2022, but the Tigers also moved Bernard-Converse around a bit. He played 13.5% of his snaps in the box, 8.5% as a deep safety, and 7.9% in the slot.
Bernard-Converse wasn’t restricted to a certain side of the field. When lining up at outside corner, Bernard-Converse played 60% of his snaps on the left side and 40% on the right side.
In terms of man/zone, Bernard-Converse didn’t stray too far from the national average distribution. PFF charted 34.5% of Bernard-Converse’s coverage snaps as man-coverage in 2022, placing him 153rd out of 387 qualified FBS cornerbacks (61st percentile). The FBS average for cornerbacks was 32.7% man coverage.
By far, the best trait on Bernard-Converse’s analytical resume is his tackling.
With a ratio of 41 tackles to 2 missed tackles, Bernard-Converse had a missed tackle rate of 4.7% in 2022, ranking seventh-lowest out of 290 qualified cornerbacks (98th percentile).
This was no outlier for Bernard-Converse. He was even better during his 2021 season at Oklahoma State, posting a missed tackle rate of 3.8%.
Bernard-Converse was a particularly efficient tackler against the run. In 2022, he made 14 tackles against the run without missing a single one, tying him for the third-most run-game tackles without a miss among all FBS cornerbacks.
Weakness: Big plays in coverage
For a cornerback who got drafted, Bernard-Converse’s production in coverage is not ideal. He surrendered a lot of big plays last year.
In 2022, Bernard-Converse was knocked for allowing five touchdowns, tying him for the 16th-most among FBS cornerbacks. Out of 290 qualified cornerbacks, he ranked 172nd with 13.3 yards allowed per reception (41st percentile) and 223rd with a 103.1 passer rating allowed (23rd percentile).
Bernard-Converse did not make many big plays of his own to make up for it, finishing 2022 with two interceptions and just three passes defended. The two interceptions were a career-high – he only had four interceptions across 2,033 coverage snaps in his five-year college career.
Extremely stark man/zone splits
Bernard-Converse was actually very good in man coverage, allowing 6 completions on 17 targets for 58 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception. His allowed passer rating of 40.8 in man coverage ranked 19th-best out of the 200 FBS cornerbacks to face at least 15 man-coverage targets (91st percentile).
But in zone coverage, Bernard-Converse allowed a passer rating of 131.3, ranking 331st out of 344 FBS cornerbacks to face at least 15 zone-coverage targets (4th percentile).
Why move him to safety?
Bernard-Converse’s abysmal zone coverage would be problematic at cornerback in a Jets defense that plays plenty of zone. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, the Jets used man coverage only 25% of the time in 2022, ranking 22nd. They were 11th in zone coverage frequency at 75%.
I think a move to safety could serve Bernard-Converse well. It would emphasize the best traits on his profile while hiding the issues he has displayed in zone coverage at cornerback.
Bernard-Converse’s exceptional tackling would translate very well to the safety position, as he’d be a reliable last line of defense. Additionally, his outstanding speed would give him great range for the position. His size and length are also ideal for a safety.
I could envision Bernard-Converse as either a box safety or a free safety – it depends on what the Jets see from him in practice.
The box seems like a natural fit. His tackling would be valuable in the run game, and because of his man-coverage success at cornerback, there is potential for him to develop into a matchup weapon against tight ends. New York could test out Bernard-Converse against tight ends in practice.
But his athletic tools give him tantalizing potential in the deep part of the field. With his speed, acceleration, and length, Bernard-Converse would offer elite range for the free safety position, giving him an opportunity to generate turnovers at a high level.
It would just come down to whether Bernard-Converse can prove to the Jets that he is capable of handling deep zone coverage responsibilities as a free safety. His struggles in zone coverage at cornerback suggest he might have a similarly rough time playing in deep zones at safety, but it’s a different position that entails different responsibilities, so the Jets can test him out in practice and see how things go.
Bernard-Converse’s athletic tools give him exciting potential on special teams, although he doesn’t have as strong of a pre-existing special teams resume as Zaire Barnes.
Over his four years at Oklahoma State, the majority of Bernard-Converse’s special teams experience came as a rusher for the punt block and field goal block teams (he blocked one punt as a freshman in 2018). He rarely appeared on other units.
In 2022, LSU utilized Bernard-Converse on the kickoff and punt coverage units. Across 52 snaps in kickoff coverage and 15 snaps in punt coverage, Bernard-Converse recorded one penalty, one assisted tackle, and zero missed tackles.
Bernard-Converse is a fun developmental piece
The Jets’ coaches have a lot of work to do with Bernard-Coverse, but he is a moldable piece of clay whose physical traits and versatility give him the potential to become a useful player in time.
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