Cornerstones and Returnees
Nickel CB Brian Poole was a bright spot in defensive coordinator Gregg Williams' unit during Poole's first year in green and white. He tied for fifth on the team with 62 tackles and the 5'10", 213-pounder added 4 tackles for loss, 6 pass defenses and his first career pick-six (Week 12 vs. OAK) and safety (Week 1 vs. BUF).
The Jets have three returning corners outside of Poole, who was re-signed in March. General manager Joe Douglas also brought back Arthur Maulet, who started a career-high six games in 2019 and totaled 41 tackles and 2 PDs. The other returnees are second-year player Bless Austin (6 starts, 24 tackles, 5 PDs) and Nate Hairston (6 starts, 25 tackles, 2 PDs).
Comings and Goings
The Jets CBs room underwent the most turnover on defense as both opening-day starters, Trumaine Johnson and Darryl Roberts, were let go in March, and Maurice Canady signed with the Cowboys. Douglas brought in a pair of former Colts in Pierre Desir via free agency and Quincy Wilson via draft-day trade. Desir brings a veteran presence to the unit as he's started 36 games in six seasons, 23 of which were from 2018-19 in Indy.
Wilson was acquired for a sixth-round pick, No. 211 overall, and joins a secondary littered with fellow Florida Gators in Poole and S Marcus Maye. The former second-round pick totaled 61 tackles, 8 PDs and 2 INTs in 29 games (10 starts).
"This is an almost 6'2", 200-plus-pound corner with size, length, ball skills and physicality," said assistant GM Rex Hogan, who spent two seasons with the Colts as their vice president of player personnel. "Quincy showed versatility for us when I was there in Indianapolis in terms of being able to play outside, a big-nickel role in nickel and dime packages. He also took some snaps at safety early in his career. We're looking for Quincy to bring those skills and versatility to our secondary as well. It was a nice pickup at that point obtaining him for a sixth-round selection."
Douglas also drafted Virginia CB Bryce Hall in the fifth round, which was great value according to draft pundits. Hall (6'1", 202) suffered a season-ending leg injury in October after leading the nation with 24 PDs in 2018. If healthy, perhaps Hall, who was considered a day-two talent, could push for reps on the outside in training camp. Douglas also added a pair of undrafted free agents in Nebraska's Lamar Jackson and Utah's Javelin Guidry.
The Jets finished No. 17 in the NFL against the pass, allowing 236.2 yards per game. The corners have undergone a makeover entering 2020 and seem to be an improved unit on paper.
"I like the group," DBs coach Dennard Wilson said. "The reason I like it is because it's open competition. I told them all offseason that I don't care where they came from, what round they were picked. I don't care how they got here. Now they're here and it's wide open. What's going to happen is that it's going to create competition and the best players are going to rise to the top. Whoever the best players are the corner position are or the three or four best guys, they're going to play. The best safeties will play. If they're the best 11, 12 or 13 on the team, they'll find a package. They might not be a starter in regular or in nickel, but we'll have a package to allow them to play and allow them to use their assets to help us as a defense."