Marcell Harris (6-0, 215), signed in free agency in April after four seasons with San Francisco, is yet another safety who has made the switch to linebacker.
"Marcell, he brings an edge, a toughness, he's got some," defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich said, `"It's hard for some guys because guys are so conscientious to do right all the time. He is, too, not to say that he isn't, but he also has that X-Factor that all playmakers have where he just shoots his gun sometimes. I think he shows the other guys there's a place for that. Not all the time, but there is a place for that. So, he brings that, which I absolutely appreciate."
Both Harris and his father Mike played as defensive backs in college at Florida. Marcell played in 15 games for the Niners last season, making 44 tackles (24 solo) with 1 INT (in 20 targets) and 2 TFL while playing 35% of the defensive snaps.
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Veteran C.J. Mosley remains the key man as the middle linebacker and quarterback on defense. After missing most of the 2020 season due to injury and sitting out the 2021 campaign because of the coronavirus pandemic, Mosley silenced anyone who doubted his ability to bounce back. He answered all the questions by playing in 16 games and leading the Jets' defense with 168 tackles (103 solo) while adding 2 sacks, 3 QB hits and 2 TFL, and he also led the team in snaps (1,096). Quincy Williams, an important pickup off waivers by GM Joe Douglas after being cut by Jacksonville, was a revelation last season. Quinnen's older brother played in 16 games for the Jets and was in on 110 tackles (73 solo) as he prowled the field at outside linebacker. If anything, Williams in his time with the Jets has sometimes found that his enthusiasm and speed resulted in him overrunning plays.
"I really believe this defense puts a ton of pressure on linebackers, especially from a coverage standpoint," Ulbrich said "Another year in the system is going to be huge, especially for a guy like Quincy who hasn't played a ton of defensive football in this league. To see the strides I think that he's capable of, I'm excited.
"C.J. is obviously that guy every single day. Quincy is a guy that's emerged in that way, whereas last year I wouldn't have told you that. He didn't have a voice, but now he's finding a voice, he's finding his own authentic leadership style."
See the top photos of the Jets LBs leading up to training camp.
Can two players converted from college safeties -- Jamien Sherwood and Hamsah Nasirildeen -- bounce back from injury, limited playing time and develop into important contributors on defense? Sherwood, who played in five games before sustaining a season-ending Achilles tendon injury, did not participate in OTAs and minicamp as he continues to rehab -- but should be ready for the start of the regular season. Nasirildeen played in 10 games and saw significant action on special teams.
"I'm also excited about Jamien and Hamsah," Ulbrich said. "These are two guys who came here as safeties and they weren't linebackers, they were rookies, they were new to the NFL, but they were also new to the position. I think, just because I know the two men and I know their makeup and I know how committed they are to it, they should make a huge jump as well to provide the depth that's necessary because, especially at that position, you will sustain injury, for sure. You have to have guys that are capable of playing winning football."