Jets Starter ‘Isn’t Even a Lock’ to Make Roster, Says Insider

Brandin Echols, Jets

Getty New York Jets cornerback Brandin Echols enjoying some alone time on the bench.

Last offseason the New York Jets took a very unique approach with their roster construction at the cornerback position.

Gang Green decided to go with lesser experienced guys hoping they could learn on the fly. While that seemed odd from an outside perspective, the idea was so crazy that it sort of worked.

In the process of their wild experiment, they discovered some very interesting chess pieces for the future. Although one of those key cogs from last year may not have a seat to sit in after the beat stops in this game of musical chairs.

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Less than a week away from the final roster cuts for NFL teams from 80 to just 53 players, Zack Rosenblatt of The Athletic shared his predictions for what’s to come.

In his discussions going through each position, Rosenblatt said that cornerback Brandin Echols is “in the mix” for one of those precious spots but it isn’t a “guarantee.”

“The Jets secondary has come a long way from last year, where Echols was a starter and now isn’t even a lock to make the 53-man roster. He’ll likely stick around as a backup on the outside, but it’s not guaranteed.”

The 24-year-old was the No. 200 overall pick in the sixth round of the 2021 NFL draft out of Kentucky. A dart throw by general manager Joe Douglas at the end of the draft that hit in more ways than he possibly could have imagined.

Most sixth-rounders don’t even crack a 53-man roster let alone become a key starting cog in their rookie seasons, but that is exactly what happened with Echols:

  • Played and started in 14 games
  • Two interceptions
  • Nine pass deflections
  • Defensive touchdown

Echols earned invaluable experience and showed some real fight through adversity. That is a position the former Wildcat is familiar with as a 5-foot-10, 179-pound boundary corner in the NFL.

It just goes to show how quickly the dynamic can change in the league. One year Echols is a cherished starter on an NFL roster and the next year he might not even make the team as a backup.

Some Nice Depth in the Room

VideoVideo related to jets starter ‘isn’t even a lock’ to make roster, says insider2022-08-25T08:33:10-04:00

The Jets with all of their additions to the secondary have really nice depth heading into 2022.

Despite what head coach Robert Saleh says, Ahmad Gardner will be a starting corner along with DJ Reed Jr and Michael Carter II in the slot in 2022.

After those top three, Rosenblatt had two other corners listed as “should be safe” ahead of final roster cuts:

That would give the Jets five cornerbacks heading into the season. How many an NFL team carries will vary on a case-to-case basis, but you could make a strong argument for one more being kept.

If that is the case, Echols should be their guy. He is incredibly young, has a feisty personality, and would make you feel good at night knowing if you ever are forced to call upon him due to injury he can step up to the plate and make something happen.

One other name that is technically listed at cornerback, but contributes as a special teamer is Justin Hardee. Special teams coordinator Brant Boyer recently went to bat for his guy at the podium saying he is top-five in the league, a Pro Bowler, and a valuable piece to this team.

Rosenblatt said this will be one of those discussions that are “heavily debated” in the war room as the team is making their final roster decisions.

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