The New York Jets surprised plenty when they drafted Florida safety Marcus Maye in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft, one round after selecting safety Jamal Adams with the sixth overall pick.
The Jets will be undergoing a youth movement on the back end of the secondary this season and Maye should play a vital role in the progression of the defense. He is the second rookie to land on our Best of the Jets list along with wide receiver ArDarius Stewart.
The Jets are expecting Adams and Maye to become the tandem of the future at safety. Here’s what to expect from Maye in his debut season with Gang Green:
What he did in 2016:
Maye was an impactful contributor for the Gators despite playing in only nine games last season. He recorded 50 total tackles, 1 sack and picked off one pass in 2016.
Maye proved his versatility during his final collegiate season and was named second team All-SEC by the Associated Press.
Why he’s on the list this year:
Maye’s interchangeability makes him an intriguing prospect for Jets coach Todd Bowles, a former NFL safety. His upside comes as a box safety and his arrival led to the departure of Calvin Pryor, who is now a member of the Cleveland Browns.
Maye will likely begin his career in Pryor’s role. Technically, Maye is an impressive player. He missed only one tackle in 438 snaps, plays with strong instincts and brings plenty of physicality.
However, Maye is more of a liability in coverage and was credited with 10 touchdowns allowed during his time with the Gators. The challenge will be improving Maye’s capabilities in coverage.
Maye was an easy choice to make the list when these rankings were decided. His potential makes him even more intriguing, which is why he’s high on the list.
What to expect in 2017:
The Jets wouldn’t have released Marcus Gilchrist or traded Pryor if they didn’t plan to start Maye and Adams this season. The team will work to improve Maye’s coverage skills, but he won’t be put on an island too often during his rookie campaign.
Projecting a rookie’s role is never easy. Expect the Jets to keep things simple in coverage for Maye while giving him the freedom to roam and use his outstanding instincts against the run. From a coverage standpoint, the Jets might try to protect the rookie by using him primarily in two-deep coverages where he isn’t the last line of defense.
Most importantly, Maye will complement Adams’ skill set in a secondary that desperately needs an infusion of hope.