The Jets secondary has been a staple for this defense for the past four seasons, but this year the secondary is going through a remodel. The team's best player, Darrelle Revis, is now in Tampa Bay. Kerry Rhodes, Jim Leonhard and now LaRon Landry are all gone. Sailing won't be as smooth as much in the back end as Jets fans are used to.
Antonio Cromartie is a top flight cornerback. He's finally realized he's a big, long corner with speed. He's using his arms to jam receivers in the five yard area, more than he ever has before. His cover skills have improved as a result. He's already done a fine job replacing Revis as the team's number one corner. The Jets had a top 10 pass defense last year, even though Revis was out for most of the season.
Top 10 pick Dee Milliner will play opposite Cromartie. Skill is not an issue for him. He's got plenty of it. Neither is pedigree. He won back to back national titles as a member of the Crimson Tide. Milliner hasn't looked very good in preseason. It could be the fact he hasn't had as much practice as he needs because of his offseason shoulder surgery. It could be because cornerback is a very hard position to play in the NFL, and acclimating yourself to the league takes time. Milliner is going to have to mature faster than most rookie corners, however he doesn't have nearly as much help as he did at Alabama, especially up top. Milliner had two highly talented safeties to cover deep. Milliner will have to prove he can cover deep by his lonesome as a member of the New York Jets.
The nickel and dime corners on this team aren't bad, but 1st round bust Kyle Wilson is dead weight when he's covering on the outside. That's a big reason why Milliner was drafted. Wilson hasn't been too bad in the slot, and that's where the Jets need him to stay. Darrin Walls fought his way onto the roster last season, and has stuck. He's got good size and speed, but lacks cover skills. If called upon, Walls could use his measurables to try and stick with receivers on the outside.
Marcus Trufant and Ellis Lankster aren’t the biggest corners around, and I think that's why Walls is ahead of them on the depth chart.
The safety core is the biggest concern in the secondary. Both of the Jets starters from 2012 are gone. LaRon Landry's range will be missed. There have been rumblings that Wilson will see time at safety, but they have died down of late.
LaRon's slightly older brother Dawan Landry joins the Jets, but Dawan is an in-the-box safety whose production in coverage has taken a big dip in recent years. Dawan doesn't have the deep skills of his brother. Former Gamecock Antonio Allen, like Dawan Landry, is an in-the-box safety who lacks deep coverage skills. The lack of a deep safety will put immense pressure on the cornerbacks, especially rookie Dee Milliner.
The key to this secondary's success is Milliner's progression. The faster he acclimates to the NFL game, the better.
You can follow Nolan Hack on Twitter @NolanHack. You can also find his work on both HCoftheNYJ.com & HaasStyleInterpretations.com.