It seems like just yesterday that the Jets’ feature cornerbacks were Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie. Much has changed. With the trade of Revis and the release of Cromartie, the Jets will be fielding a new-look secondary, in 2014. Part of this ‘changing of the guard,’ includes the the signing of cornerback Ras-I Dowling.
Dowling played college football at Virginia. As a freshman in 2007, he recorded 43 tackles and 2 interceptions. As a sophomore, his stats were almost identical, with 43 tackles and 3 interceptions. His best season of his college career came in 2009, when he racked up 58 tackles and 3 picks. He was poised for a big senior year, and was viewed as one of the nation’s top collegiate cornerbacks. However, he played in just five games due to injury.
Set to be a first round pick before his injury, Dowling’s draft stock did take a bit of a hit.
The injury didn’t scare off the Patriots, who selected him with the very first pick of the second round (pick 33) in the 2011 NFL Draft. Dowling played just 2 games in 2011, before being placed on Injured Reserve; his bad luck continued in 2012 when he was placed on Injured Reserve in October. In August of 2013, Dowling was cut by New England.
The Jets saw a talented, but injury prone player on the market and decided to take a flier. In October of 2013, the Jets signed Dowling to their practice squad.
Today, with much uncertainty surrounding the Jets cornerback position, the Jets are going to need somebody to stand out in mini-camps and training camp, and earn their position.
They currently boast a position group of Dee Milliner, Dexter McDougle, Dimitri Patterson, Kyle Wilson, Ellis Lankster, Darrin Walls, Brandon Dixon, and Dowling. Many of these players are inexperienced, so there will be no ‘gimmes’ in depth chart distribution.
Dowling very well could be the man to emerge out of this crowded group and play a role on Rex’s defense this season.
Head Coach Rex Ryan made some news this week when he told the New York Daily News, “I don’t believe one guy in New England’s got all the answers.” Even though Belichick didn’t think Dowling and Patriots cast-off linebacker Jermaine Cunningham would be successful in the NFL, Ryan sees talent.
After standing out in Virginia, but sustaining injury in his first two seasons, Dowling is going to try and find a home with the Jets. Rex is looking for a press corner, and Dowling may be his guy.
“Here’s a guy who’s clearly built like a press corner,” Ryan said. “He’s done a good job up until this point. His thing is going to be how he is as a press corner. We’ll start to find out.”
The Jets training staff has done a great job with injury-prone players. The Jets signed safety LaRon Landry, in 2012, who went to his first Pro Bowl in his only season with the Jets. Landry played in all 16 games, after having his prior two seasons cut in half by injury.
Rex often gives injury-prone players certain days off during the week to rest, and the training staff has helped to maintain that health during the season.
If Dowling can keep history from repeating itself, his natural talent may propel him into a large role on the defense.