Going into the regular season, most New York Jets fans were nervous about the cornerback room and that fear was justified.
The franchise entered 2021 with seven cornerbacks after the decision to release Bless Austin, and six of them were either rookies or second-year players. The one exception was special teams captain Justin Hardee, but he doesn’t even play the position unless there’s an emergency.
That choice from Joe Douglas and Robert Saleh put a ton of pressure on projected starters like Bryce Hall and Brandin Echols, as well as key contributors like Michael Carter II and Javelin Guidry. Outside of maybe Echols, each one has answered the bell and smashed expectations, but one prospect has begun to show that he can be a true shutdown NFL corner.
Here are three coverage statistics that prove Hall is developing into an elite defender.
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Hall’s No-Fly Zone
The red zone has become the no-fly zone for Hall in 2021. According to PFF NY Jets on Twitter, the young Jets star is one of four NFL corners to “not allow a reception in the red zone this season.”
The other names on this list are all big-time prospects that cost their respective teams a high draft pick. Tre’Davious White was a first-round pick in 2017, while AJ Terrell went in the first in 2020. Even Chicago Bears CB Jaylon Johnson was a second-rounder, which makes the NYJ fifth-round pick the outlier of the group.
Hall also ranks in the top three for “most coverage snaps without allowing a [touchdown]” among CBs through five weeks, according to Michael Nania of Jets X-Factor.
White’s on this list as well, but the number one spot is held by Dallas Cowboys star Trevon Diggs, another top-ranked selection. Hall comes in third with 209 coverage snaps without a TD.
Paired with the red zone statistic, the Jets CB1 has become an island near the end zone.
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Snaps per Reception
Snaps without a touchdown are great, but how many coverage snaps has Hall averaged without allowing a reception? He’s currently at 13.9 snaps per reception according to Pro Football Focus.
That means Hall averages just about 14 coverage snaps on the field before allowing an offensive player to make a catch. This number ranks 12th for all NFL cornerbacks with a minimum of 50% of snaps played in 2021. When you filter it down to 80% of snaps played, Hall moves up to sixth in this analytic.
For reference, Casey Hayward Jr. tops the charts with an absurd 36.4 snaps per reception this season for the Las Vegas Raiders, but there are only five CBs with an average that is 20 snaps or higher.
Again, this puts Hall among some elite company in 2021.
Hall Makes His Own Luck
In theory, the first two defining statistics above could be determined by a portion of good fortune. Maybe quarterbacks haven’t thrown Hall’s way in the red zone? Maybe they’re targeting other cornerbacks while he’s on the field?
The naysayers could come up with something I’m sure, but the third and final stat leaves no doubt. PFF calculates a forced incompletion percentage per target. As the name describes, this means the defender had something to do with the incomplete pass, rather than an errant throw or a dropped pass.
Jets X-Factor co-creator Robby Sabo detailed an example of this on October 5.
With five incompletions forced in 2021 (tied for 3rd in the NFL) among CBs that have played 50% of snaps, Hall holds a forced incompletion percentage of 22%. That’s tied for fourth for the entire sport!
Once again, when you filter it down to corners that have played 80% of snaps, Hall jumps even higher — except this time, the Virginia product reaches the peak. Along with the aforementioned Johnson, the Jets CB is tied for first in the NFL in forced incompletion percentage per target at the 80% threshold.
There’s still a long way to go for Hall, but this 2020 draft sleeper is transforming into a shutdown corner right before our eyes within Saleh’s system. Don’t blink!