Over the last month, we've been taking a brief and early look at some of the potential solutions that could provide offseason upgrades for the Jets in each position. Today, we've been looking at cornerbacks. We looked at outside cornerbacks this morning but now we move on to slot cornerbacks:
The Jets' lack of depth at the slot cornerback position was exposed last year when Buster Skrine missed some time through injury. Robert Nelson was activated off the practice squad and immediately forced into action in the slot against Atlanta having played mostly outside in the past. He struggled and is no longer with the team.
The Jets were trying to find room for all the young players on the team, none of whom have played much in the slot. This caused them to trade Dexter McDougle and release Marcus Williams, gambling on the fact that Skrine could handle the role with no safety net. They did also have rookie Xavier Coleman but he got injured.
Of all the youngsters, Jeremy Clark is the only one to have played much in the slot, albeit mostly when he was playing at safety earlier on in his career.
The Jets need depth there, but will probably continue to lean on Skrine - or could they look to upgrade and perhaps even bump him off the roster?
Kyle Fuller is probably the best of this year's free agent cornerback class that can produce in the slot, although it looks likely he'll stay with the Bears after the slapped a transition tag on him.
Patrick Robinson had an outstanding season last year. He's now 31, so it will be interesting to see if the Super Bowl champions bring him back. If they do, Nickell Robey-Coleman played extremely well last year and could be an upgrade over Skrine for a similar price.
The ageless Terence Newman also had a good year, but he'll be 40 on opening day so he'd be a very short-sighted fix.
Some other mid-level options who played well last year are TJ Carrie, EJ Gaines, Bashaud Breeland and Aaron Colvin, while cheaper alternatives could include the veteran Brice McCain or restricted free agent Justin Coleman.
One final option that could be very interesting is that the "Honey Badger", Tyrann Matheiu, could be traded or even a cap casualty. Matheiu developed under Todd Bowles and may be keen to reunite with him. That could be an exciting impact move.
There are fewer immediate slot options available via the draft but some players with good potential. Most of the top cornerbacks are constantly employed on the outside at the college level. That leads to a situation where a guy like DJ Reed from Kansas State or Pitt's Avonte Maddox, who are probably too small to play outside in the NFL, may be forced to convert without much in-game experience of playing in the slot.
Top safety prospect Minkah Fitzpatrick from Alabama played in the slot a lot over the years, with mixed results, but the Jets wouldn't draft him at six to play that role.
Of all the top prospects, MJ Stewart from North Carolina is probably the one who has performed the best in the slot, although he's equally capable of playing outside. Donte Jackson from LSU is another. He has good speed but lacks ideal length.
Jalen Davis from Utah State has good playmaking ability and Danny Johnson from Southern is a good small school prospect. West Virginia safety Kyzir White has also played extensively in the slot.
How would you approach this position? Is there anyone out there you'd target who we didn't mention? Let's have your thoughts in the comments.
BONUS LINK: Cornerback prospects breakdown