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How the Jets can address their abandoned island in the secondary

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Malik Hooker can turn the tide of a game (0:37)

According to Mel Kiper Jr., ball skills and instincts make Ohio State safety Malik Hooker a valuable commodity in today's pass-happy NFL. (0:37)


This is the eighth installment of our position-by-position breakdown for the New York Jets as we head to the April 27-29 draft:

Position:Secondary

Current personnel: Cornerback -- Buster Skrine (signed through 2018), Morris Claiborne (2017), Marcus Williams (2017), Juston Burris (2019), Darryl Roberts (2018), Dexter McDougle (2017), Bryson Keeton (2018), Nick Marshall (2017), John Ojo (2019); Safety -- Calvin Pryor (2017), Marcus Gilchrist (2018), Rontez Miles (2017), Doug Middleton (2017), Ronald Martin (2017).

Key newcomers: Claiborne (free agent/Dallas Cowboys).

Departures: Darrelle Revis (released).

Projected starters: CB1 Claiborne, CB2 Skrine, CB3 Williams, SS Pryor, FS Gilchrist (injured).

Overview: Welcome to the construction zone. The Jets are in the process of overhauling their once-formidable secondary, which played horribly last season. After cutting Revis, they didn't pursue any of the big-name corners in free agency, settling for the oft-injured Claiborne on a one-year deal. Right now, they don't have a true shutdown corner, hardly the ideal situation for a defense predicated on man-to-man coverage. Even if Burris develops into a solid starter, the Jets still need another long-term answer because Claiborne and Williams will be free agents next year. Incredibly, they're hurting more at safety than corner. Gilchrist (major knee surgery) is a question mark for training camp, leaving the inconsistent Pryor as the only starting-caliber player. The entire secondary situation must be painful for coach Todd Bowles, a former safety who needs lockdown players on the back end to play his blitz-oriented system.

The last defensive back drafted: Burris was selected in the fourth round last year, flashing some promise in limited action.

Potential targets: Many mock drafts have them picking a defensive back in the first round, either safety Jamal Adams (LSU), safety Malik Hooker (Ohio State) or cornerback Marshon Lattimore (Ohio State). The Jets have met privately with all three. Adams likely is the preferred choice, but he may not be available at No. 6. Hooker and Lattimore have high ceilings, but they're both one-year starters recovering from offseason surgery. The Jets also met with their Ohio State teammate, Gareon Conley, who could be the second-best corner in the draft. He doesn't have Lattimore's elite athletic traits, but he's experienced and can play a press-man technique. Kevin King (Washington) and Damontae Kazee (San Diego State) also took visits to the Jets. This is one of the best cornerback classes in years; the Jets should be able to find a good one in the second or third round. The Jets also are showing interest in the second-tier safeties, Marcus Maye (Florida) and Josh Jones (North Carolina State). A late-round wild card is Nate Holley (Kent State), who was recently cleared of felony assault and kidnapping charges. The Jets dispatched an official to meet with Holley, who is trying to convince teams the charges were bogus.

Need factor (based on a scale of 1 to 10): Cornerback -- 9; Safety -- 10.