FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – Rewind a few months ago and tell a fan of the New York Jets that Buster Skrine would be one of their free agent signings and most would have celebrated the news. Consider that Skrine wasn’t even the team’s biggest cornerback signing is tantamount to jubilation among fans.
That Skrine was the team’s third best cornerback signing is just downright ridiculous, especially since the team’s starting cornerbacks last year might have been the worst collection in the league.
The first of three cornerbacks that the Jets signed via free agency, along with Pro Bowlers Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, Skrine is a bit of an afterthought when evaluating this offseason. After all, Revis and Cromartie are former Jets and among the best at their position in the league, their signings would naturally draw hype and attention. There was bound to be enthusiasm over their signing but don’t sleep on Skrine.
Speaking to Metro New York during voluntary veterans minicamp this week, Skrine said he was unsure where he would play in the defense. His most likely destination is lined up in the slot but with the Browns he played on the outside plenty and has a clear comfort level there. And like former Jets head coach Rex Ryan, current head coach Todd Bowles likes cornerbacks who can play press-coverage, something which Skrine is solid at.
“He wants corners who can play press man and that’s what we did in Cleveland. I know they’re going to put a lot of weight on corners in this defense,” Skrine told Metro.“I’m a versatile player, I can play outside, can play in the slot. Whatever is natural.”
In Bowles scheme, the Jets are going to blitz – a lot. As such, there is a premium on the cornerback position, someone who can lock down and jam the reciver at the line, forcing the quarterback to hold onto the ball an extra split-second before making his release.
It is in that split second that the Jets hope their blitz will hit the pocket, and hit the pocket hard. If the cornerbacks do their job, the Bowles defense will register sacks and hopefully turnovers.
Skrine fits the mold for what Bowles wants from the position. He is scrappy, a fighter and enjoys being physical at the line of scrimmage. He also has a relentless reputation for being a workout warrior and has been called a “gym rat” around the Browns facility.
He admits to being surprised that he now joins a backend that includes Revis and Cromartie along with fellow free agent safety Marcus Gilchrist along with last year’s first round pick Calvin Pryor.
“I know a lot of people take free agency and the process differently; the Jets had a lot of interest in me,” Skrine said. “I was surprised, thought they would get those guys first since they were here first. But it’s great, I’m happy to be here now.”