This Jets rookie defender could help the Jets cover tight ends with his range.
Linebacker Zaire Barnes ran a 4.56 forty and also ran a 4.27 in the 20-yard shuttle at his pro day, which would have ranked him second among linebackers at this year’s combine.
That 20-yard shuttle time is a significant test for linebackers because it measures lateral quickness in short areas where you must change directions at a moment’s notice.
And Barnes’ speed and ability to change directions should help the Jets in an area of need – linebacker pass coverage.
“He has the ability to cover man-to-man,” wrote NFL Network draft analyst Lance Zeirlein. “[He has] above-average athleticism in man coverage.”
Barnes came to Western Michigan as a safety, but was moved to linebacker in 2019. It’s well-documented that Jets coach Robert Saleh loves moving safeties to linebacker. Saleh loves the coverage ability and speed former safeties bring to the linebacker position.
“We just felt like with his makeup and his versatility and speed, especially his speed, and length, that he would translate really well into our system,” Saleh said.
And his coverage ability, which you saw in the Jets’ spring practices, could help them in tight-end coverage.
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