In 2007, the New York Jets moved up in the NFL Draft to select Pittsburgh’s Darrelle Revis at number 14 overall. Most fans were shocked because there had been no indication of the Jets’ intentions of selecting Revis. The fans knew that the defense needed help.
After the surprising 2006 campaign, the belief was that the team was an effective secondary away from turning the corner. Selecting the highly regarded prospect out of Pitt to roam the defensive backfield with Kerry Rhodes made too much sense.
Surrounded by football throughout his life, Darrelle Revis is the nephew of former Pro Bowl defensive lineman, Sean Gilbert, and has a close relationship with one-time Jet, Ty Law. It was clear that the young man had been in good company, and would have an abundance of NFL knowledge bestowed upon him by athletes who have excelled in their positions.
But those relationships were a cause for concern when Revis’ contract negotiations took longer than expected.
Ty Law is known for taking a hard stance with teams when it comes to negotiating his contracts, and Uncle Sean Gilbert had gone as far as to sit out for the 1997 season when the Redskins placed the Franchise tag on him.
While the fans anticipated Revis’ debut, they feared he learned more of the hard-nosed negotiation tactics as he was a hold out for the majority of training camp. When contract terms were finally settled, Revis had missed significant amounts of practice, crucial repetitions, and essential chemistry building with his new team.
Upon his arrival, Revis was immediately placed in a starting role because of an injury to Andre Dyson. Revis held the position as if it were his to begin with.
Throughout the season, he lined up against some of the best receivers the NFL has to offer from Randy Moss and Chad Johnson to Terrell Owens and Hines Ward.
While his inexperience showed at times, his instincts and natural ability eclipsed any negatives in his game. He could run toe-to-toe with any receiver he was assigned to cover, and more importantly, he could tackle. I can’t count the times a play stopped when the runner appeared in his vicinity.
Fortunately, the statistic keepers at NFL.com can. When the season ended, Revis registered 87 tackles with 74 solo, defended 20 passes, recorded 3 interceptions and forced one fumble. No other rookie cornerback recorded more tackles or defended more passes.
And the experienced players ahead of Revis with slightly more impressive statistics are a perpetual “Who’s Who?” of cornerbacks in the NFL from Antonio Cromartie to Asante Samuel.
Revis’ potential for greatness in this league has been well-advertised, but his production has proven to surpass all expectations. Revis is a core element to the Jets’ defensive future, having shown flashes of what is required to be a shutdown cornerback.
The Jets’ future defensive success involves building around players like Revis, Kerry Rhodes, and David Harris. There’s no question that the Jets now have a number one cornerback.
Message to the quarterbacks of the NFL: the field isn’t smaller; it’s just Darrelle.