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Over the next month or so, we're going to be reviewing some of the top draft prospects at each position to assess some potential candidates that the Jets will show interest in. We continue today with a look at the 2019 cornerback class...
Jets Needs: Cornerbacks
The Jets have some decisions to make at the cornerback position this offseason with two of their main contributors -- Morris Claiborne and Buster Skrine, who are both out of contract. Trumaine Johnson will be back, but the Jets could be on the lookout for a starter and a nickelback if Claiborne and Skrine aren't re-signed. The Jets will be hoping for a bounce-back year from Johnson, although he led the team with four interceptions in 2018.
Youngsters Derrick Jones, Rashard Robinson and Parry Nickerson are also still under contract, but it would be a surprise if any of them wins a starting role in 2019 after they didn't contribute much last season. Robinson earned a contract escalator due to playing time accrued while still with the 49ers, which could make him a cap casualty. But the Jets will hope Jones and Nickerson still have untapped potential and could challenge for a role.
The Jets also signed Tevaughn Campbell and Arthur Maulet to futures deals at the end of last season. Campbell is probably a long-term project at best, but Maulet has some NFL experience and could get in the mix for a nickelback role.
2019 Draft: Cornerbacks
Greedy Williams is regarded by many experts as the top cornerback in this year's draft. Williams, who intercepted six passes in 2017, is a former teammate of Jamal Adams at LSU. He solidified his status as a possible top 10 pick by running a 4.37 in the 40-yard dash at the combine on Monday. While Williams likely wouldn't be an option with the third pick, he could be on the Jets' radar in a trade-back scenario.
Washington's Byron Murphy and Georgia's DeAndre Baker have also both been regarded as possible first round picks, although neither performed particularly well at the combine. Despite having a less than ideal wingspan, Murphy has outstanding film, while Baker's coverage numbers were some of the best in the nation.
Possible day two picks include Clemson's Trayvon Mullen, Temple's Rock Ya-Sin, Amani Oruwariye from Penn State and Notre Dame's Julian Love. Mullen is an aggressive player and an exceptional tackler, while Oruwariye is active in run support and Love posted excellent agility numbers at the combine. Could one of these players fall to the Jets in the third round?
While there aren't many top prospects in this year's class that played in the slot, Iowa's Amani Hooker has plenty of experience there. He could be a target if the Jets need depth at the nickelback position.
Also turning heads at the scouting combine were Auburn's Jamel Dean, who ran the fastest 40-yard dash of any player this year at 4.30 and David Long from Michigan, who posted the top time in the short shuttle (3.97 seconds) and the three-cone drill (6.45). Long lacks size, but had excellent coverage numbers in 2018. Like Nickerson, he didn't play much in the slot in college, but agility numbers like those may convince teams he's capable of making the transition into that role at the NFL level.
Blessaun Austin from Rutgers and Isaiah Johnson from Houston also boosted their stock by posting outstanding numbers across the board at the combine. Johnson also has terrific size and length, so he could be a sought-after project off the back of his performance in Indianapolis.
In the late rounds, USC's Iman Lewis-Marshall could be an option. Lewis-Marshall, who at the time was just Iman Marshall, was a player we previously highlighted as a standout during senior bowl week.
Finally, three potential sleepers who weren't invited to the combine are Clifton Duck from Appalachian State, Brian Peavy from Iowa State and Akron's Kyron Brown. Each player will draw interest at their respective pro days over the next month or so, and could be a late-round bargain or even an undrafted free agent. Brown, in particular, seems to have flown under the radar despite being a physical corner with good ball skills.
Once again, the Jets' draft strategy at this position will be largely influenced by what they do in free agency. They could try to sign a veteran starter, which would make the position less of a priority. However, it's a strong-looking draft class, so they could find some depth in the later rounds.