The Cleveland Browns traded away last year’s nickel corner Troy Hill and are looking for a replacement, could rookie Shaun Jolly fill that role?
The Cleveland Browns surprised many people in last month’s draft when they selected cornerback Martin Emerson with their first pick in the third round. It also came a bit of a surprise when they traded away nickel corner Troy Hill for a day three pick the next day. This left the team without a clear player to play nickel back in 2022.
An exciting prospect that could solve the nickel issue is undrafted free agent Shaun Jolly out of Appalachian State. During Jolly’s sophomore season at Appalachian State he finished with 5 interceptions, two returned for touchdowns, and 8 pass breakups. In his final season, he only played in 8 games with 1 interception and 5 pass breakups.
One of the more intriguing aspects of Jolly’s game is his tackling, we know that Joe Woods requires his defensive backs to tackle and Jolly is one of the best. PFF’s Michael Renner had Jolly as the best tackling corner in the draft.
"“A 5-foot-9, 179-pounder as the best tackler? Well, we relied on the data for this one and it wasn’t particularly close. Jolly made just over 100 tackles in his college career and missed only four. And he’s got better as his career has gone on, with only one miss in each of the past two seasons. That should bode well for him overcoming size limitations in the slot at the next level.” -Michael Renner, PFF"
You can never have enough good tacklers in the NFL so having a player as reliable as Jolly in that aspect is really intriguing. In coverage, he is really nice in reading the quarterback’s eyes and reacting quickly when the ball is in the air. He played against a lot of lesser competition however so he will have to step it up at the next level.
Jolly is far from a lock to make this roster as an undersized player from a small school, but he has good athleticism, instincts, and speed to chase down players.
He moves really nice laterally and will be a player to keep an eye on come training camp and the preseason.