Cornerback was a key need for the New York Jets heading into the NFL Draft, and they addressed it with Dexter McDougle in the third round and Brandon Dixon in the sixth round. While McDougle is a virtual lock to make the team, Dixon will be part of major competition between the Jets’ reserve cornerbacks, which could see as many as seven players battling for one or two roster spots.
Dixon is small school prospect who didn’t face elite competition at Northwest Missouri State, and he will certainly have an adjustment period as he enters the NFL. Physically, he is exactly what teams want in a cornerback, at 6’0″, 196 lbs with a 4.41 40 at the combine. That athleticism is a big reason why the Jets believe Dixon can develop into a quality player, but it will take time.
Right now, however, Dixon is a much better athlete than football player. He needs to improve his coverage skills and instincts, and he will struggle with play recognition after making the jump from Division II to the NFL. Dixon is not ready to handle the pressure the Rex Ryan puts on his cornerbacks, as they are routinely asked to play man to man with little to no safety help. If the Jets put Dixon in that situation too early, they will regret it.
Given that Dee Milliner, Dimitri Patterson, Kyle Wilson and McDougle all appear to be safe bets to make the Jets’ final roster, Dixon will have to compete for a reserve/special teams role. His competition in that area includes Darrin Walls, Ellis Lankster, Ras-I Dowling and Johnny Patrick, among others, and all of those players have more experience than Dixon. He would need to absolutely awe the coaches with his performance in camp in order to force his way onto the final roster.
However, that doesn’t mean that Dixon doesn’t have a future with the Jets or that they don’t have plans for him. Dixon looks destined for the practice squad as a rookie, and the Jets will try to develop him with the goal of him becoming a contributor in his second season. There is nothing wrong with that, and barring an incredible preseason, Dixon will be a player the Jets try to stash and develop for the future.