Feature Image: USA TODAY Sports
The time from now until training camp can be filled with a mix of vacations and training regiments for players and personnel, but for hardcore NFL fans it’s more of a time filled with vodka and despair.
We’ll be counting down to the June 23rd, report-to-Cortland date, by featuring current players with roster numbers that correspond with the number of days left. For days without a corresponding player, we’ll be featuring other players and maybe some surprises.
30 Days = #30 Darrin Walls
Bursting onto the scene in 2013 was cornerback Darrin Walls, who joined the squad in late September 2012, after Darrelle Revis went down to injury. Walls played in six games in the 2012 season, starting in one, after being promoted from the practice squad about a month after his signing. Statistically, he was a non-factor in his limited showing.
With Revis being traded following 2012’s campaign, Walls would see his role increase the following season, after a productive body-of-work in the offseason.
In 2013, Walls quickly became a fan-favorite to start opposite veteran Antonio Cromartie, as first-rounder Dee Milliner struggled early in the year, following extended rookie contract negotiations which saw him miss part of training camp.
Starting in three games, but playing in all 16 of this past season, Walls showed a good understanding of the defensive playbook and adequate coverage skills. However, he never really had the impact on any one game to warrant holding off Milliner for chunk playing time in the later stages of the season.
What does the future hold?
Walls finds himself in a familiar position going into training camp, as the number two cornerback spot is up for grabs. With Antonio Cromartie’s exit to the Cardinals in free agency, Dee Milliner appears to be the favorite to overtake the number one corner role. Opposite of Milliner, there is a noticeable void.
In the 2014 NFL Draft, the New York Jets drafted a pair of cornerbacks in third-rounder Dexter McDougle (Maryland) and sixth-rounder Brandon Dixon (NW Missouri State).
McDougle would appear to be the favorite to enter the CB2 position, although cornerback is a position with a big learning curve, especially in a Rex Ryan defense. In addition, McDougle is coming off a three-game senior year, after sustaining a season-ending shoulder injury. Still, Ryan has talked highly of McDougle in his limited time with the Jets, in spite of being unsure about the rookie pre-draft.
At the end of the day, Darrin Walls has the opportunity to prove that experience can outweigh expectations, and try to add a spark to a possibly weakened secondary.