The New York Jets selected speedster CB, Parry Nickerson, out of Tulane in the sixth-round of the NFL draft on Saturday. After a pair of trades with the Vikings, New York had three picks to spend in the sixth round. One of those picks,179th overall was spent on Nickerson. Many draft “experts” had a 4th-round grade on Nickerson so this is seen as an excellent value pick for the Jets to select him in round six.
The Jets needed a young infusion of talent at Cornerback. Their current crop of CB’s outside of Trumaine Johnson and Morris Claiborne leave a lot to be desired and they badly needed to add depth at the position. Buster Skrine is currently serving as the team’s slot corner, but he’s too unpredictable to fully rely on. Skrine owns an $8.5 million cap hit in 2018, but he will be a free agent after the season.
The Jets will likely part ways with Buster in the 2019 off-season and Nickerson can take hopefully over from there. He will be 24-years-old in October which is a little older for a prospect coming out of college, but under the right tutelage, he should still be able to progress to the next level as the team hopes.
Coming from a small school program, it will likely take him time to learn and get acclimated to the talent level of the NFL. If he can develop under the proper coaching he can push Skrine for playing time in the slot as soon as this year, but at the very least should be able to contribute on special teams as well.
So what exactly do the Jets see in Parry Nickerson?
He is a 5’10” 180 pound speedy, ball-hawking DB that excels in man coverage. Parry can play on an island, press and jam receivers at the line of scrimmage, or play off-coverage. These are all key traits in a corner that Head Coach Todd Bowles will love to see in his secondary.
Pro Football Focus’ 10th ranked corner in the draft, with a 2017 grade of 86.1, Nickerson only allowed one touchdown pass in each of his past two seasons at Tulane while passers had a 41.7 rating when targeting him.
In 2013-2017 he totalled 154 solo tackles, 16 interceptions, and defended 31 passes. Six of those interceptions came during his final season in 2017.
He clearly has a nose for the ball which is exactly the type of player that the Jets defense has been deprived of for so long. Safeties Marcus Maye and Terrence Brooks tied for the team lead in 2017 with 2 interceptions each. Gang Green’s defense ranked 20th in the league with 11 total interceptions so a ball-hawk like Nickerson will certainly be a welcome addition.
Nickerson’s most impressive attribute, however, is his speed. He ran a 4.32 40 yard dash at this year’s NFL combine. His 40 time was clocked as the fastest in the draft along with fellow corners Denzel Ward and Donte Jackson.
With his blazing speed, he should have no trouble keeping up with burners in the NFL. He also has excellent closing speed should he actually get beat deep down the field and can recover quickly to make a play on the ball.
A few knocks on the former Green Wave corner are that he may have trouble at times with bigger, stronger receivers. He also needs to work on his tackling. These are both concerns because of his size.
Nickerson is slightly undersized at 5’10” and only played on the outside during his days at Tulane. Covering the X and Z receivers at the pro level may prove to be a struggle for him. A transition to the slot should be in his immediate NFL future where smaller defensive backs such as Tyrann Mathieu (5’9″) and Chris Harris Jr (5’10”) have thrived.
This may prove to be one of GM Mike Maccagnan’s best picks in the 2018 draft outside of QB Sam Darnold. Nickerson has the speed, talent, and athleticism to be a successful cover corner in the league. It will be up to the Jets coaching staff to help him unlock his full potential.