How will the Jacksonville Jaguars fill holes in coverage in 2018?

FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 21: Jalen Myrick #31 of the Jacksonville Jaguars reacts during the AFC Championship Game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on January 21, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 21: Jalen Myrick #31 of the Jacksonville Jaguars reacts during the AFC Championship Game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on January 21, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /

Despite the fact that the Jacksonville Jaguars have arguably the best cornerback tandem in the league in Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye, the team has big shoes to fill following the loss of nickelback sensation Aaron Colvin.

This void is even bigger when considering teams are splitting four and five receivers out wide more than ever before. Therefore, having depth at one of the most important positions on the field is key. It is a common belief among coaches and front office personnel that you can never have too many good cornerbacks – and for good reason. As long as a offense can find one or two mismatches to exploit, they can typically put points on the board.

As the Jaguars head into OTAs in the coming weeks, there is a great deal of uncertainty surrounding the rest of the team’s depth chart at cornerback beyond A.J. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey. However, they have several intriguing options on the roster that could easily step-up and become surprise impact players in 2018.

One of those guys is 2013 twelfth overall pick D.J. Hayden. Hayden has had an injury plagued career where he hasn’t tapped into his first round pick potential. However, it’s important to remember that he beared the burden and pressure of being a high draft choice who was expected to be a number one corner – especially during his time with the Raiders.

After a change of scenery last season with the Detroit Lions, Hayden performed much better in a more remedial role. He is a shifty, rangy player who’s small frame is best utilized as a slot corner or nickelback. Likewise, his speed allows him to blitz off the edge, something defensive coordinator Todd Wash loves to do with his defensive backs.

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Hayden has proven he can be an impact player in more of a backseat position covering smaller, less athletic, receivers and running backs. His situation also closely resembles that of another former struggling first round pick, with a similar stature and skillset – Patrick Robinson. After facing intense pressure and scrutiny throughout most of his career, Robinson had his best season last year with the Philadelphia Eagles. If anything, Robinson’s situation proves that if put in the right scheme and used correctly, Hayden will be able to thrive.

Not everyone has to be an All-Pro to make career in the NFL, or make an impact , and Hayden should be no different.

Another one of the team’s options at cornerback is 2017 seventh round pick Jalen Myrick. Being that Myrick saw limited action last year, playing mainly on special teams, he will have to prove himself in OTAs and training camp to earn playing time.

The thing that stands out most about Myrick is his eye popping speed. The former Minnesota Gopher drew attention from scouts at last year’s combine for running a blazing 4.28 forty yard dash, good for best among defensive backs.

Like Hayden, Myrick’s smaller frame is best suited to play inside, which is just fine. However, he struggled mightily at times in college with tackling and getting interceptions. Being that the Jaguars defense lives and dies on forcing turnovers and flipping field position, these are two areas that he’ll need to improve going forward.

However, his quickness and recovery speed will serve him well playing in the nickel and slot. Ultimately, Myrick is an interesting prospect who the team could slowly mold into a solid backup corner that plays a sidekick type role.

Something that defensive coordinator Wash will also likely try and do more often in the upcoming season during passing downs will be to utilize three safety formations. In the pass happy NFL where safeties are traditionally forced into coverage, this is something we’re seeing more frequently.

Additionally with rookie hybrid Ronnie Harrison on the roster, this would allow them to slowly work him into the rotation while seeing which safety position fits him best.

While Harrison is more commonly seen as a Kam Chancellor type punisher, his large stature and physical playing style have the potential to create matchup nightmares in coverage. Additionally, while playing at Alabama, he proved he could cover a combination of big tight ends, versatile running backs, and slot receivers.

Even though Harrison may ultimately be best suited to be a box safety, he shouldn’t be confined to that role – especially not as a rookie. While he probably isn’t suited to cover a team’s number one receiver, Harrison adds yet another intriguing option in coverage with his ability to line up seemingly anywhere on the field.

Overall, the Jaguars have many options at cornerback, and players they can utilize in coverage beyond just their 1-2 punch of Bouye and Ramsey.