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Jamal Adams (USATSI)

Jamal Adams (USATSI)

Welcome to the second installment of who the Jets should take with the 6th pick. In the last article I went over the quarterback prospects for the Jets. Here I’ll discuss the safeties.

Honestly, safety isn’t a huge need for the Jets. The three players on the Jets roster who will see the field the most at the safety positions are Calvin Pryor, Marcus Gilchrist and Rontez Miles. All of them are decent players. However, none of them have the talent like the two safeties that have been linked to the Jets in the first round have. Those safeties are LSU’s Jamal Adams and Ohio State’s Malik Hooker. So which one should the Jets take with the 6th pick if they decide to go safety? I’ll be looking at five categories to determine which safety is the best fit for the Jets. First, I’ll look at their basics. That includes their height, weight, athletic ability and accolades. Secondly is their ability in coverage. Next is their ability against the run. Fourth is their playmaking ability. Lastly, I’ll be looking at any intangibles, overall grade and scheme fit.

Basics

LSU’s Jamal Adams is a stocky safety coming in at 6’0 and weighing 214 pounds. For a stockier safety, he moves extremely well. His ability to change direction on film was exceptional. His deep speed was what you’d expect out of a Top 10 safety as he was able to cover deep in both man and zone without an issue. What was his best skill though was his explosiveness. He showed some of the best closing speed I’ve seen on film while watching this draft class and that includes corners as well. However, he didn’t test as well as I hoped he would. His 40 yard dash time was 4.56 seconds and his 3-Cone drill time was 6.96 seconds, both good enough to have him ranked in the Top 10 among safeties. Yet, his film suggests he could have done better.

Ohio State’s Malik Hooker is more of a lanky safety than Adams. Hooker comes in at 6’1 and weighing 206 pounds. Unfortunately, Hooker had shoulder surgery in the off-season and was unable to work out at the Combine, so all we have to go by his how he looked on film. Luckily his film was spectacular. He showed great agility and balance. His closing speed was comparable to Adams but where he really stood out was his speed and range. He has Ed Reed level range when covering deep. It’s simply amazing. He also has the catch radius of a premier NFL wide receiver. From what I’ve heard, his shoulder injury isn’t scaring teams. He should be ready for 2017 as long as there is not setbacks.

Both safeties had excellent 2016 seasons. Hooker was named 1st Team All-American and 1st Team All-Big Ten. Adams was named 2nd Team All-American and 2nd Team All-SEC. Adams was also named 2nd Team All-SEC last year as well while Hooker had yet to become the starter in Columbus.

Coverage

As mentioned before, Hooker’s range is at an elite level. When it comes to his ability to play centerfield, he’s in a class by himself. However, when he’s asked to do other things he starts to have a problem. He’s shown mental mistakes when covering underneath zones. He’s also a boom or bust player in off man coverage. He’ll either jump the route for a big play or allow a catch. There is no in-between.

Adams is more of a well-rounded coverage safety. His ability to play zone coverage, both deep and underneath is at an All-Pro level. His ability to play off man, though, is at an elite level. He’s disciplined and doesn’t fall for double moves. He can also hang with any receiver or tight-end. He can also play press coverage. He was able to cover quick receivers, speed receivers and bigger receivers when pressing. However, his press coverage ability is not on the same level as his off man ability.

Ability vs. the Run

As you could imagine from their athletic description, the stockier safety, Adams, is better against the run. What makes him so good against the run is his absolute fearlessness when attacking the line of scrimmage. He attacks like a linebacker. He’s able to shed any block thrown at him by a wide receiver, fullback or tight-end. The only real way to block Adams is to get an offensive lineman on him. Adams is also a powerful tackler and can bring the hammer down on a ball carrier. However, he doesn’t always wrap up and drive through the ball carrier, leading to some missed tackles.

Statistically, Hooker looks to be just as good against the run as Adams. Over the course of the 2016 season, Hooker only had two less tackles than Adams.

2016 Defensive Stats

Player

Team

Pos.

Comb. Tkl

TFL

Sacks

Adams, Jamal

LSU

SAF

76

7.5

1.0

Hooker, Malik

Ohio St

SAF

74

5.5

0.5

(Statistics are from cfbstats.com)

However, anyone who has watched football long enough knows that tackle totals doesn’t mean a whole lot. On film there is really no comparison between Hooker and Adams when it comes to defending the run. Hooker doesn’t attack the line of scrimmage the same way Adams does, but to be fair, Adams played in the box a lot more and Hooker’s main responsibility was to cover deep. Hooker had a real problem getting off blocks and he doesn’t wrap up well on tackles. Yet, he does hit with power.

Playmaking Ability

The first thing everyone is going to see is that Malik Hooker had seven interceptions last year, which is an outstanding number.

2016 Defensive Stats

Player

Team

Pos.

PBUs

INTs

Hooker, Malik

Ohio St

SAF

4

7

Adams, Jamal

LSU

SAF

4

1

(Statistics from cfbstats.com)

Like I said earlier, his ability to cover the deep zone is at an elite level. He has outstanding range and the catch radius of a premier receiver. He undercuts routes well and has good ball skills when swatting away passes. The one thing that everyone needs to keep in mind is that three of those seven interceptions came against Bowling Green and Tulsa, two Group of Five schools. Having four interceptions is still impressive, but it’s not the same as having seven.

Adams only had one interception last year after having four in 2015, three of which came against quality opponents. His hands aren’t that great and his ball skills are pretty average. Adams is not the kind of safety who is going to be a turnover machine at the next level.

Summary

Overall, Jamal Adams is a better prospect than Malik Hooker. Adams can do more than Hooker and he’s shown he can do it over two seasons. Hooker, on the other hand, only started this season, but it was an amazing season. The Jets aren’t hurting at safety as previously mentioned. So which one should they pick if they decide to go safety? They should take Ohio State’s Malik Hooker. Like I said before, Adams is a better safety overall and a better prospect but Hooker brings something to the Jets that they sorely need, someone who can create big plays. Marcus Gilchrist had two interceptions last year while Calvin Pryor and Rontez Miles didn’t have one at all. Hooker is going to be a liability against the run, but he’s going to be playing free safety anyway. The other three safeties, including Calvin Pryor, the Jets’ first round pick from 2014, have shown they can be decent against the run and can play the role of strong safety. With Hooker, the Jets secondary doesn’t become elite but it becomes dangerous.

Thanks for reading the article. I hope to have the last article going over the cornerback prospects up shortly. For more updates on all of my work you can follow me @mstopsky on twitter.

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