One area that could potentially use some reinforcements is the safety position, and general manager Joe Douglas did not ignore it while scouring the UDFA pool for more talent. The headliner based on guaranteed money appears to be Texas Tech safety Marquis “Muddy” Waters, who signed with the organization on April 29 according to Texas Tech Football.
NFL insider Aaron Wilson revealed the financials, noting: “Jets rookie safety Marquis ‘Muddy’ Waters’ rookie deal includes $100,000 guaranteed, with $90,000 of base salary guaranteed and $10,000 signing bonus, per a league source.”
Waters also addressed the fanbase, voicing: “All I got to say is Thank you @nyjets for giving me this opportunity. Let’s work 😤🏿🏾.”
New Jets UDFA Marquis Waters Could Play LB in NFL
Although Waters was a safety in college, there’s a chance he converts to linebacker at the NFL level. The Jets website hinted this in their official UDFA tracker, labeling Waters as an LB addition.
We’ve seen this transition with players like Jamien Sherwood and Hamsah Nasirildeen inside head coach Robert Saleh’s system before, and the former Red Raider could be the latest hybrid LB to enter the scene. Having said that, he also profiles as another box safety that fits starter Jordan Whitehead’s role in the defense.
“Aggressive safety who is best defending the run,” Pro Football Network analyst Tony Pauline scouted ahead of the draft. “Shows suddenness and flies around the action. Fires upfield to defend the run or screen plays. Slides off blocks, displays a good head for the ball, and immediately locates the action. Wraps up tackling.”
Pauline also noted some potential weaknesses, informing that Waters displays an “average ability in coverage.” He’s also “not a rangy safety” and “lacks elite next-level speed.”
Overall, “Waters is an underrated run-defending safety who is best making plays downhill or in the box,” the long-time insider concluded. “Though his game has limitations, he possesses enough skill to be used in a zone system and comes with a special-teams mentality.”
UDFA Safety Trey Dean Called ‘Strong’ Signing by Jets
The other safety pickup was former Florida Gators starter Trey Dean III. After reporter Jared Stanger shared “Trey Dean to the Jets” on social media, NFL news site uSTADIUM retweeted him with an opinion on the move.
“This is another strong one for the Jets,” They voiced. “The safety group in NY isn’t too deep so Dean has a chance. Great size and long arms. Played in a bunch of games for the Gators.”
NFL Network scouting expert Lance Zierlein projected Dean as a priority free agent ahead of the draft. He reasoned: “Big, long safety with good athleticism and toughness but a lack of top-end speed. He needs to play with better patience early in the rep and must become more aware of his assignment responsibilities. While he lacked speed in his NFL Scouting Combine testing, he did show the ability to run with downfield targets on tape. Dean can cover big tight ends and help support the run in the box but spotty angles to the tackle plague him at times.”
Zierlein summed up Dean as a prospect, writing that he may “have to compete to make a team as a down safety who can shine on special teams.”
Ian Cummings of Pro Football Network also called the 6-foot-3 safety’s college career “tumultuous,” before adding that he does have “untapped upside” despite that. “Ask five different people about Dean as an NFL draft prospect, and you very well could get five answers,” he explained.
Cummings highlighted a lot of the same pros and cons as Zierlein before coming to this conclusion: “[Dean will] need the right role and the proper development. But as a fringe Day 2 prospect, or an early-to-mid Day 3 value addition, Dean has the potential to exceed his draft billing down the line and become a defensive standout in the proper situation. And on Day 1, his experience at multiple spots makes him a quality depth player.”
Both Waters and Dean could push 2020 draft pick Ashtyn Davis or veteran Will Parks for a backup safety job and a role on Brant Boyer’s special teams unit.