Over the last month or so, we've been taking an in-depth look at each of the Jets' offseason additions. We continue today with a look at linebacker Kevin Minter.
The 27-year old Minter is 6'0" and 246 pounds and was a second round pick out of LSU in 2013. He spent his first four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, making 37 starts. Last year he signed a one-year deal with the Bengals but injury issues limited him to seven starts and 32 tackles. He has 255 tackles and five sacks in his career.
Minter enrolled at LSU in 2009, redshirting his first season. In 2010, he played in 10 games, but mostly in a special teams role as he only had 15 tackles. He stepped up his production in 2011 with 61 tackles and then was one of the SEC's leading tacklers with 130 tackles in his junior year. He also posted career highs in tackles for loss (15) and sacks (four) along with his first career interception. Minter was voted all-SEC and announced that he would be entering the 2013 draft.
The Cardinals drafted Minter with the 45th overall pick but were patient with him as a rookie as he effectively only saw action on special teams. In 2014, he started five games as defensive coordinator Todd Bowles opted to platoon him with safety Deone Buccannon as the inside linebacker complement to veteran Larry Foote.
After Bowles departed to become the Jets head coach, Minter started every game over the next two years, posting a career high 94 tackles in 2015 and a career high 3.5 sacks in 2016.
He signed a one-year deal with the Bengals for 2017 and started seven games, but also missed seven due to injury and wasn't very productive. The Jets signed him earlier this month.
Let's move onto some more in-depth analysis of what Minter brings to the table, based on in-depth research and film study.
Here were Minter's combine workout numbers, which included some good scores, but ultimately were disappointing:
However, he improved his 40-time to 4.67 at his pro day, while also adding an inch and a half to his vertical. He couldn't improve upon his broad jump though and his agility numbers were below average.
He has nice size and is stocky and powerful.
Minter has mostly played within the tackle box as a Mike linebacker at the NFL level. It's been rare for him to match up with receivers in the slot. Back in 2014 when he wasn't the Mike, he mostly came out of the game in passing situations and stayed primarily inside.
Minter is strong enough to take on blockers at the point of attack or second level, or to bottle up runs.
He perhaps lacks ideal range for sideline-to-sideline pursuit, but takes good angles and is good at getting downhill.
Here's a good example of him doing that, as Minter (#51) keeps his outside arm free as he takes on the block so he can make the stop:
Note how impressively he explodes to the ball here, stopping the runner in his tracks as a result:
Minter tackles with good technique, but has had issues with missed tackles over the years. He was among the league leaders in terms of the most missed tackles at his position in 2016. However, he only had a few last year.
While he will generally take good angles, Minter can overrun plays at times and can struggle to react to cutbacks.
Here's a good example of him pursuing downhill and managing to get Marshawn Lynch with a low ankle tackle:
Minter is not ideally suited to coverage assignments, instead usually being employed underneath where he reacts well to short passes.
He is limited in man coverage because he doesn't have the hip fluidity to stay with his man if he makes a sharp break in his route.
On this play, he ends up isolated with the tight end, who he initially seeks to engage as a blocker and then has lost outside leverage advantage before he can react:
Minter is regarded as having good instincts but can be slow to read plays as he's more reactive than anticipatory. His awareness can let him down in coverage sometimes too.
That happens here as he bites on the run action and then can't recover back to the fullback:
Minter has been among the league leaders in terms of how often he's rushed the passer from inside linebacker in recent years. This is one way they avoid exposing him in coverage.
His production in terms of generating pressure has been adequate but not especially high, apart from in 2016 when he had 3.5 of his five career sacks.
He's effective when lined up in the A-gap, especially since even if the back picks him up, he's usually powerful enough to move him off his spot. On this play, he actually tosses a lineman aside:
Minter is a physical player who makes use of his powerful physique. He is aggressive when taking on blockers and navigating traffic and also lays some big hits when tackling.
He lights up Ryan Griffin on this play, taking him out of the game:
Minter hasn't contributed much on special teams since he was a rookie. He had five tackles in kick coverage that year. He only played a handful of special teams snaps last year.
Minter can sometimes be a bit reckless as a hitter. He's had two unnecessary roughness penalties and three for roughing the passer in the last three seasons.
Minter also had three penalties in coverage, two of which were for pass interference, and lined up in the neutral zone once.
Last season, Minter missed four games with an elbow injury and then the last three with a hamstring injury that eventually landed him on injured reserve.
He had played 61 straight games prior to that, although he's been listed with a concussion in 2016 and quad and pec issues in 2014. He missed three games at the start of his rookie year with another hamstring injury.
With his aggressive style of play, Minter is a player who fires up his teammates and leads by example. However, his initial struggles to get to grips with the scheme in Arizona slowed his progress as a vocal leader. He is regarded as smart, though.
With a couple of years having played for Bowles and then two more as an every-down player in the scheme that evolved out of Bowles' system, Minter should be comfortable in the Jets' system and could be able to mentor some of the younger players.
He is most likely to fit in as Avery Williamson's back-up if he makes the team. The Jets have better options to put into the game in coverage situations, so there's no reason to use him in any way other than as a thumper.
Bengals fans were underwhelmed with Minter last season, but he could be a better pick-up for the Jets with lower expectations, less of an crucial role and a lower cap hit.
Like many of the Jets' signings this offseason, Minter has obvious strengths and weaknesses but could be very effective if they employ him in a fashion where he can contribute while mitigating his weaknesses. In this case, Minter would most likely be employed as a run defender and out of the game in passing situations.
However, with Avery Williamson locked in as the starting Mike, there might not be an immediate role for Minter if everyone stays healthy and he's perhaps not the special teams contributor some of the other players he's competing with are. He's therefore going to have to battle for his spot.