New York Jets' DB Group Dominates PFF 2024 League-Wide Rankings

The New York Jets are the only NFL team with all three starting cornerbacks appearing in the top half of the PFF rankings.
Dec 24, 2023; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Jets cornerback Michael Carter II (30) breaks up a pass intended for Washington Commanders wide receiver Jahan Dotson (1) during the second half at MetLife Stadium.
Dec 24, 2023; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Jets cornerback Michael Carter II (30) breaks up a pass intended for Washington Commanders wide receiver Jahan Dotson (1) during the second half at MetLife Stadium. / Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
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The New York Jets have not one, not two, but three elite cornerbacks in their starting defensive lineup.

Led by CB1 Sauce Gardner, who has two All-Pro First Team selections to show for his first two NFL seasons, a trio of Jets landed in the Pro Football Focus Top 15.

Analytics-based website PFF identified the "Top 32 cornerbacks ahead of the 2024 season" with Gardner topping the entire list.

Meanwhile, starting slot cornerback Michael Carter II garnered the No. 9 overall ranking, giving New York two Top 10 selections. Veteran cornerback DJ Reed, who mostly plays on the boundary opposite Gardner, occupies the No. 14 spot. The Miami Dolphins also placed two in the Top 10, but the Jets were the lone NFL with three amongst the Top 20.

Since bringing Gardner, Reed and Carter together in 2022, the Jets have ranked amongst the NFL's Top 4 teams in total defense. New York has limited opponents to a league-low 34 touchdown passes over the past 34 games.

In 2023, opposing passers accounted for a 76.0 quarterback rating against the Jets. Only the Baltimore Ravens and the Cleveland Browns ranked higher.

"Absolutely continuity, especially on the back end is so critical. These guys got to know each other strengths, their weaknesses, their shortcomings, their superpowers, their kryptonites, they got to know all that. They also have to know how to communicate at the highest level," said defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich during an OTAs media availability. "The fact that we have some continuity, that we've had guys that have been here in the system for multiple years now, it's exciting to think where they could take it."

Gardner has done nothing but exceed expectations after New York drafted him at No. 4 overall in 2022. He has logged 31 passes defensed over 33 career starts. Gardner has been charged with allowing only two touchdown passes over 2,100+ defensive snaps.

According to PFF, the 23-year-old "has earned a 92.1 coverage grade and allowed only 0.53 yards per coverage snap over the last two years, both of which rank first among all cornerbacks in the league."

Carter, a 2021 fifth-round draft pick, has locked down the slot for the Jets, especially over the past two seasons. In 2023, he held opposing receivers to a career-low 4.8 yards per target.

PFF claims Carter "allowed just one touchdown and eight first downs in 2023, giving up just 0.62 yards per coverage snap. He prevents separation and grades exceptionally well."

After four seasons in the NFC West, Reed signed as a free agent with New York and has thrived despite playing in Gardner's shadow. Having made 32 starts for Gang Green, Reed has totaled 21 passes defensed, two interceptions, and two forced fumbles.

PFF singled Reed out for his consistency, which dates back to his time with the Seattle Seahawks. The 27-year-old has "put up PFF grades above 75.0 in each of the past three seasons."


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Ralph Ventre

RALPH VENTRE

Ralph, a former college football conference administrator, brings 20 years of media experience to the New York Jets beat. Prior to concentrating on Gang Green, he covered the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision for NFL Draft Bible on FanNation. Ventre remains as an official voter for the Stats Perform FCS Top 25 and the annual legacy awards. The Fordham University graduate is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. The veteran sports media professional resides in his native state of New Jersey.