The 2017 NFL draft will likely go down as one of the most stacked defensive drafts of all time. Former LSU standout Jamal Adams, who was selected by the New York Jets with the No. 6 overall pick, has the opportunity to be the best player of that hallowed group.
An All-SEC safety, the 6’0, 215-pound Adams brings an NFL pedigree — his father won a Super Bowl title with the Giants — and standout skills against both the run and pass games to a Jets secondary in desperate need of a jolt. The highly regarded defender will have the opportunity to start from the first day after honing his craft against some of the best competition college football has to offer.
What can Jamal Adams bring to Jets?
In three years at Louisiana State, Adams proved he can be a disruptor deep in the backfield or at the line of scrimmage. He plays on a swivel in coverage, reading quarterbacks and adjusting to checkdowns with immediacy. This leaves him in good shape for over-the-top help downfield, but it’s most fun when plays are dialed back to the line of scrimmage, allowing him to run downhill and break up passes like a series of small explosions.
What makes Adams so exciting?
Teams tested Adams downfield most often his sophomore year, and he responded with four interceptions and six passes defended. But in 2016, quarterbacks tended to steer clear of him. Though his coverage numbers declined, he made a bigger impact near the line of scrimmage as his coaches found a way to maintain his presence on the field — Adams finished with 7.5 tackles for loss as a junior.
That ability to sneak into the backfield and cause problems resulted in some big plays in his three years with the Tigers. Here he is shutting down an early fourth-and-short attempt from rival Alabama:
He’s also a vocal leader on the field who works to make every member of his team better. He was loath to let anyone at LSU outwork him, and that example raised the standard for the entire Tiger team.
Here are some numbers to know
Adams shows no hesitation when it comes to making hits and stopping big plays before they can unfold. Though his combine numbers were solid but unspectacular, he boosted his stock with a stellar pro day performance. His 40-yard dash time dropped from a mediocre 4.56 seconds to a lightning-fast 4.33.
He’s a dynamic athlete who will get tested by the NFL’s deep threats but should be more than able to hold his own. College offenses tried to suck him into the line of scrimmage with play-action plays throughout his career with limited success. LSU held opposing passers to a 111.1 rating last fall, the 15th-best mark in FBS.
Adams has classic defensive back hands, which means he’ll have plenty of drops that remind fans why he’s not a wide receiver. His willingness to explode to the line of scrimmage on running plays will leave him vulnerable to play-action fakes, and veteran quarterbacks will test him over the top until he proves he can figure that out. Additionally, his production weaned in 2016, but that had as much to do with opposing teams purposefully avoiding him as anything else.
The Jets hope he’ll be able to lead a secondary that badly needs fresh blood after a disastrous 2016 campaign.