On Monday, the New York Jets released cornerback Antonio Cromartie.
With Cromartie gone, could former Terrapin Dexter McDougle be an impact player in 2016?
First of all, the release of Cromartie didn’t come as a huge surprise around the football world. The former first round pick would’ve counted $8 million against the salary cap in 2016.
This was just the first season of a four-year, $32 million contract that Cromartie signed during the offseason. Cromartie only accumulated 29 tackles and failed to record an interception for the first time since his rookie year with the San Diego Chargers.
Darrelle Revis is certainly the top cornerback on the Jets depth chart, but there is a huge question mark on who will start opposite Revis. As it currently stands, McDougle, Dee Milliner, Buster Skrine, and Marcus Williams all could be in the mix for the vacant CB2 spot opposite Revis.
Obviously, McDougle only recorded one tackle during the 2015 season, so he’s probably not going to start. However, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see McDougle step into a nickel corner role and make an impact.
During his time at Maryland, McDougle totaled 151 tackles (111 solo), six interceptions, and 11 passes defended.
His most impressive campaign may have been his shortest one. As a senior in 2013, McDougle only played in three games before suffering a season-ending injury, but still managed to record three interceptions (most on the team). He picked off two passes against Connecticut on Sept. 14 and took one back for a 49-yard touchdown.
He also recorded 14 tackles (13 solo) during that three-game period.
McDougle is just a playmaker plain and simple. The former Terp really excelled in single coverage during his time at Maryland and always had a knack for being around the football.
In 2011, his six defended passes were good for fifth in the ACC.
If McDougle were to assume the role of nickel cornerback with the Jets, he would be responsible for covering the slot receivers around the NFL. These are typically quicker and sometimes smaller players, but possess the ability to get open on underneath routes.
McDougle’s style of play definitely would be well-suited for a nickel corner role. As was mentioned above, the former Stafford (Va.) star can provide blanket coverage and has very good hands.
McDougle really just hasn’t gotten a chance to showcase his skillset yet. As a rookie, he suffered a season-ending knee injury before the preseason was even in the books.
He has been stuck playing behind guys like Cromartie, Milliner, and Revis. It wouldn’t be crazy to think that McDougle gets just as much of a look as Milliner when it comes to playing time.
After all, Milliner is entering his fourth season with the Jets and hasn’t stayed healthy nor has he produced.
If McDougle can make some noise in training camp and the preseason, the former Terp standout could force the coaching staff in playing him on a more consistent basis.