FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – It isn’t a good sign when your top draft pick is near the bottom of the depth chart.
But that’s the predicament New York Jets cornerback Kyle Wilson finds himself eight weeks into his first NFL season.
The Jets originally thought Wilson could start at corner opposite Antonio Cromartie and in place of Darrelle Revis, a holdout for the first 36 days of training camp. Once Revis ended his holdout, Jets coaches penciled in Wilson as their nickel cornerback. He struggled in the opener against Baltimore, getting burned by Anquan Boldin and flagged for two penalties in the Jets’ 10-9 loss.
In Week 3 against Miami, Wilson was called for a crucial pass interference penalty in the red zone that set up a Chad Henne touchdown pass. The Jets won the game, but it seemed clear at that point that Wilson was overmatched.
That, plus big plays from Jets “closer” Dwight Lowery (interception returned for a touchdown against Minnesota and late fumble recovery against Denver), have led to Wilson’s playing time being cut considerably.
"I love Kyle and he’s a first-round pick,” Rex Ryan said on Thursday. “It would look great for the organization that he starts. (But) we’ve said all the time, we’re in the win business.”
Ryan noted that Wilson is struggling to find the ball once it is thrown in his direction and is having a tough time keeping up with the adjustments in the Jets' defensive schemes.
Said Wilson: “Obviously my playing time has changed. But all I can do is continue to go out there and try to get better and make plays.”
The Piscataway product started to watch film with defensive backs coach Dennis Thurman after the Jets’ win over Buffalo. Thurman has since taught Wilson how to properly study tape. He's also helped the corner recognize what to expect from receivers based on where they line up on the field.
"I give him credit," Thurman said. "He may have gotten down on himself, but it hasn't affected how he's practiced or prepared."
Thurman still has confidence in Wilson, noting that many of the Jets defensive backs gain a grasp of the team’s defense in their second year. But the coach acknowledges that the Jets' staff may have given Wilson too much responsibility in training camp.
“In our aggressiveness to put him out there, we probably put him out there a little too soon,” Thurman said. “Having to live up to being the No. 1 draft pick and playing close to your home town; the expectations from us and probably for himself may have been a bit high.”