The Jets didn’t select another defensive back after taking Ahmad Gardner with the fourth pick of the 2022 NFL draft, but they moved swiftly to address their secondary depth with the undrafted free agent signing of Illinois safety Tony Adams.
Adams spent five years at Illinois and improved as a cover safety with each passing season. New York has plenty of depth at the position, but Adams could fight for a spot in the pecking order throughout the summer.
Let’s get to know a bit more about Gang Green’s newest safety.
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Many NFL players idolize legends who play their position. For Adams, it was one of the greatest basketball players of all time who shaped his athletic mindset. Adams’ University of Illinois bio states that Kobe Bryant is his favorite athlete because of “his mindset and his work ethic.”
Doubling up on degrees
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Adams balanced his football career at Illinois with a heavy academic workload. Adams graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science in December 2020. He used his COVID year to pick up a second bachelor’s degree in communications.
AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast
Adams played in five games as a true freshman at Illinois and wasted no time placing himself in rare company. Adams got the start at cornerback in the Fighting Illini’s season opener against Eastern Illinois, making him the program’s first true freshman corner to start a season opener since former Pro Bowler Vontae Davis in 2006.
Ball skills on display
AP Photo/Chris O’Meara
Adams, who played wide receiver in high school and was recruited by some to play the position at the next level, came down with six interceptions and 11 pass deflections during his time at Illinois. In 2019, he became the first Illini with interceptions in consecutive Big Ten games since Davis and Kevin Mitchell did it in 2007.
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