The New York Jets made some bold moves in the 2017 NFL Draft by selecting safeties in both the 1st and 2nd rounds. Many considered the move to be outlandish, especially since the team had no sure-fire quarterback at the helm.
But now, as 2017 approaches it’s close, the move reflects back signs of ingenuity. Both rookie safeties, Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye, are making waves by showing continual improvement week after week.
Coming into the season, most eyes were fixated on the Jets’ first round pick in Adams. Coming out of LSU, he was the one of the top defensive prospects available in the draft. So far with the Jets, he has been great – but his rookie counterpart may be a step or two ahead of him.
Maye, taken in the second round, was also a top prospect. And even with the Jets recent struggles among second round picks, they gambled on him.
Maye in Coverage
The Jets’ defense began the year real rocky, allowing Buffalo and Oakland to trample them in both the running and passing game. Things changed rather quickly however as the secondary and defensive line finally began to synchronize.
Stepping up were players such as Demario Davis, Jordan Jenkins, Darron Lee – and the rookie, Marcus Maye. Since then, the young-gun has arguably been the Jets’ best defensive weapon, making his biggest mark in coverage.
Marcus Maye in coverage this season
57.0 snaps per target (1st among safeties)
0.12 yards allowed per snap (3rd) pic.twitter.com/JgD0SEEFFd
— John Gatta (@PFF_JohnGatta) November 27, 2017
Maye has stood out as one of the top safeties in the league as opposing quarterbacks have avoided throwing in his direction. In last Sunday’s matchup against Carolina, Maye wasn’t targeted once across 31 snaps.
And according to PFF, Maye has only missed one tackle in 413 coverage snaps. He is also only allowed six catches for 47 yards on the year – veteran type numbers. The rookie has excelled expectations by a long shot as he was thrown into a starting role right away.
Defensive Rookie of the Year?
When looking at his numbers, it’s hard to dispute against considering Maye for the DROY award. He has been virtually unstoppable, and is looking like he may be the greatest safety to wear the Green & White for the next decade.
But his outstanding performances are being overshadowed by quite a few factors, which may limit his chance at consideration for the award:
- The Jets’ secondary has been excellent in most situations. Morris Claiborne has been lights out in coverage, and Jamal Adams isn’t too far behind. The mix of a lot of productive parts makes Maye’s shot at the award less evident – and that’s been a similar case in the past.
- Saints’ rookie corner Marshon Lattimore has been playing at an elite level as well. Luckily for Lattimore, his production stands out due to the Saints being so shallow in terms of a strong secondary. His athleticism and potential likely places Maye a spot behind him, for now.
Impact on the Jets’ Future
If you’re a Jets fan, you have to be excited with how the young prospects are panning out. As mentioned earlier, Maye could very likely turn out to be a future Hall of Famer given the production he has shown in his first NFL season.
The addition of Jamal Adams only puts a brighter spotlight on the Jets’ secondary. If they are able to retain Claiborne this off season or add a similar veteran, this secondary could be lethal for years to come.
Marcus Maye is such a great tackler #nyj
— Brian Costello (@BrianCoz) November 26, 2017
— Joe Caporoso (@JCaporoso) November 27, 2017