The offense is on every Jets fan’s mind, but there’s one defensive player that fans should have their eye on, and it’s Notre Dame cornerback Troy Pride, Jr.
At the beginning of the draft process, many experts had Troy Pride, Jr. in the middle of the pack among the cornerbacks. Be careful when dismissing this man. Early in the process, the folks over at The Draft Network had him ranked in the mid-100s overall. Now he’s 69th. Let’s take a look at what he brings to the table for the New York Jets.
Pride, Jr. was a track star in high school. He was a state champion in four different races as a senior at Greer High School (South Carolina): 100-meter (10.55 seconds), 200-meter (21.28 seconds), 400-meter (48.28 seconds), and one-leg of the 4-by-100 meter relay (part of a team that completed it in 42.20 seconds). His speed is a valuable asset because he can stay with any wide receiver. However…
Pride, Jr. has problems with ball tracking, and that’s going to be a huge issue in the NFL. Even though he can stay with his man stride for stride, he loses his man with the ball in the air frequently enough to be an issue.
He doesn’t win on many 50/50 balls. His size — 5’11 — plays a huge role in that, and even if he fix his tracking ability in the NFL, that will always be an issue, and that may make him a consistent target throughout his career.
Pride, Jr.’s biggest weakness is the reason he’s going to fall. He will likely fall to the Jets at pick no. 68 overall. Due to the weakness, he’s a mid-to-late Day 2 prospect in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Gregg Williams loves to blitz. According to Pro Football Reference, the Jets had the fourth-highest blitz rate in the NFL in 2019 at 39.2%, and it may have even been higher if the Jets didn’t have the major injuries they did and they had cornerback play that gave Williams comfort in blitzing. They had neither of those. So, he settled for what he did.
Enter Troy Pride, Jr.
His speed makes him a huge asset in the Williams defense. Since he’s able to stay with his man stride for stride, that gives him a leg up in coverage. Man-to-man coverage is a very important key to being able to blitz with the frequency Williams would like to.
Even though he’s had trouble with ball-tracking, Mike Renner said it best in the PFF Draft Guide.
I’d rather take my chances on a corner like Pride being able to fix that though than a below-average athlete with ball skills fixing his man-coverage ability.