Positional analysis: Cornerback

February, 23, 2011
This is the 12th part in our daily, position-by-position breakdown of the Jets' roster. Thursday: Safety.

Focus: Cornerback

Depth chart: Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, Drew Coleman, Dwight Lowery (S), Kyle Wilson, Marquice Cole, Isaiah Trufant, Ellis Lankster.

Expiring contracts: Cromartie, Coleman.

Rear-view mirror: By and large, the Jets received very good play from their corners, but it still was kind of a weird year. The cornerbacks, namely Cromartie, were all over the statistical map. Cromartie ranked fifth out of 108 cornerbacks in "burn percentage" -- 47 completions in 107 times targeted, a 44 percentage, according to Stats, LLC. Good, right? Well, hold on. Cromartie also allowed a team-high seven touchdown passes and the Jets were ranked only 24th in covering No. 2 receivers, according to FootballOutsiders.com -- another indictment of Cromartie. So Cromartie was over-rated? Well, hold on again. The Jets allowed a league-low 43 completion percentage outside the numbers, underscoring the coverage skills of Cromartie and Revis.

For Cromartie, it was all about matchups. He did very well against the tall receivers with vertical speed (i.e. Randy Moss), but experienced some hiccups against the smaller, quicker wideouts that were quick in and out of their breaks. He also lacked discipline, committing a team-high nine penalties for 87 yards, including a costly penalty in the AFC title game. As for Revis, who set himself back with a summer-long holdout, it took about half the season before he resembled the Revis of old. By late in the season, it was difficult to complete a pass on him -- just like old times. He finished first in burn percentage (19/56/34 perecent). His no-interception season was a statistical anomaly, yet he dropped what would've been a key pick in the AFC title game.

The Jets had high hopes for Wilson, the No. 1 pick, but he lost his spot as the nickel back. When the ball was in the air, he looked like a blind-folded kid at a birthday party, trying to hack at a candy-filled pinata. Coleman (four sacks) and Lowery (three interceptions) weren't great in man-to-man coverage, but they demonstrated a knack for making big plays. Cole also flashed late in the year.

Numbers game: What does it say when the nickel back (Coleman), only 5-9, 180 pounds, is only two sacks shy of the team lead?

Crystal ball: There's no better than a 50 percent chance that Cromartie is back. He has tremendous raw talent, but he tested the coaches' patience with sloppy technique, sometimes failing to get physical with receivers at the line. At times, he didn't take advantage of his strong hands and long arms. The Jets probably will let Cromartie test the free-agent market. If he gets that far, he'll probably get an offer too rich for the Jets' blood. It takes a special corner to play opposite Revis because you know you're going to get picked on. Wilson has the physical skill to do it, but it would be a leap of faith to hand him the starting job at right corner. Coleman and Lowery are effective role players, but probably wouldn't excel as much in full-time positions. Did someone say Nnamdi Asomugha? He'll be the No. 1 free agent out there, but be realistic. If the Jets sign him, they'd probably have to say goodbye to WRs Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards. And that is not part of their game plan. Cole showed poise late in the season and will have a role in the sub packages.

Hot seat: Wilson. He got a free pass as a rookie, but now he has to compete for a starting job. Put up or shut up.

Positional grade (scale of 1 to 10): 8.5

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter



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