Ahead of next week’s draft, let’s highlight 10 players that don’t seem to be getting much attention. How good are these guys? Could any of these players get drafted higher than expected? Are any of them options for the Jets? Here they are, in no particular order:
Oklahoma State RB Justice Hill
Hill’s dazzling combine performance won’t have been a surprise for anyone who’s seen Hill play, as his athleticism jumps off the screen at you. Hill ran a 4.40 in the 40-yard dash and added a 40” vertical and 130” broad jump, one of just five players and the only running back to hit those three benchmarks at this year’s combine. Of those five, Hill and DK Metcalf were the only two to also post at least 20 bench press reps.
Hill is slightly undersized, but has drawn comparisons to Reggie Bush and has shown capable of handling a big workload as he has had four games carrying the ball 30 times and another nine with 20+ carries. While he sometimes tries to do too much instead of taking what the defense gives him, Hill has the potential to be a dynamic playmaker.
Earlier this week, CBS Sports’ Chris Trapasso mocked Hill to the Bucs in the fourth round. While the Jets are arguably set at the running back position, the potential value Hill might provide on day three could be worth considering.
Washington OL Kaleb McGary
McGary flew under the radar somewhat with Trey Adams having previously been considered the Huskies’ best lineman, but NFL teams have started to warm to him after he was voted the best lineman in the Pac-12 and posted better than expected results at the combine.
The knocks on McGary are that he lacks length, isn’t especially dominant and may have limited potential. However, his footwork and balance are good and he’s been well-coached with the awareness and ability to pass off assignments and pick up stunts. This enables him to limit pressure and prevents him from making a lot of mistakes.
McGary played right tackle last year and, although he only gave up two sacks in regular season action last year, his eight penalties included a couple of holding penalties after he got beaten off the edge, so he probably isn’t the answer for any team looking for a left tackle of the future.
However, while his upside might not be high, base competence at the tackle positions is something that is in such short supply that it wouldn’t be a total surprise to hear teams showing interest in taking him on day two or maybe even at the end of the first round.
Oregon WR Dillon Mitchell
Mitchell is another early-entry candidate currently projected to go in the mid-rounds. He had some good production last season, leading the Pac-12 with 1,184 receiving yards, but there are some raw aspects to his game. The main thing that makes Mitchell a potentially valuable prospect is that most of his perceived weaknesses seem fixable, though.
For example, his route running is somewhat raw, but already showing signs of improvement. Concerns over his maturity and focus can be set aside if he’s able to convince teams he’ll show dedication at the pro level. Also, his lack of an ideal frame can be improved upon once he gets into an NFL lifting program, but he’s shown the ability to produce from the slot anyway, so that might not prevent him from contributing early.
Mitchell is a playmaker once you get the ball into his hands, which should make teams eager to feature him in their offense. He ran a 4.46 at the combine and averaged almost 16 yards per catch last season. If he drops into the late rounds, he could be an ideal player to carry as a 4th or 5th wide receiver in 2019 with a view to expanding his role going forwards.
Temple DE Michael Dogbe
Dogbe is a player that would have blown up the combine had he been invited. His 34 bench press reps was just two less than Dexter Lawrence, who led all defensive linemen, and Dogbe would also have been just outside the top five for his 40-yard dash and three cone drill.
At a listed 6’3” and 280 pounds, Dogbe is another undersized interior lineman, but his strength in the trenches is impressive and he has an explosive first step and the ability to move well in space.
After not being particularly productive in his first few seasons with the Owls, Dogbe broke out in his senior year with 72 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks. However, he’s currently projected as a late round pick. Don’t be surprised to see him go higher than that.
Texas A&M TE Jace Sternberger
We know what you’re thinking - haven’t the Jets been down the tight end called Jace from Texas route before? However, Sternberger was impressive in his first year at College Station after having transferred from Kansas. He seems to have a more rounded game than the Jets’ second-round flop Jace Amaro did.
Sternberger led the nation with 10 touchdowns from the tight end position and was second in receiving yards. He can create separation on his routes, doesn’t drop many passes, has the ability to make contested catches and can generate yardage after the catch.
Although he lacks ideal size and is only an average athlete, Sternberger showed willingness and technique as a blocker last year so wouldn’t necessarily be limited as a glorified big slot receiver or motion tight end.
Having already landed a bargain at tight end in the mid-rounds last year, the Jets might not be in the mix for Sternberger, but they’d be wise to familiarize themselves with him because New England has reportedly shown interest.
Marshall S Malik Gant
Gant is a player whose underwhelming combine performance could see him slip into the later rounds. However, he’s been an instinctive and productive player at Marshall and brings a hard-hitting style to the safety position that could bolster a team’s run defense. He racked up 95 tackles last year.
While not really known for his coverage abilities, Gant intercepted a couple of passes last year and has good positional sense as well as the anticipatory skills to limit the gain on short passes.
While the Jets are all set at the starting safety positions for the time being, there could still be competition for a third safety or dime package role and a player with Gant’s abilities would project as a useful special teams contributor in the short term.
Max Scharping OL Northern Illinois
Scharping played both tackle positions in college, but he lacks ideal length, which has led some experts to suggest he could be suited to a move inside. Previously thought of as a possible day two pick, he might have been leapfrogged by some tackles with better measurables or from higher profile schools.
With an excellent combination of size and athletic ability, Scharping is big enough to handle being kicked inside and could develop into a solid run-blocker. However, he has some technical ability as a pass blocker that might mean he’s equally capable of playing the tackle position in spite of his lack of length.
It’s not unprecedented for a player with shorter arms to be able to handle the tackle position. In fact Kelvin Beachum’s arms are even shorter than Scharping’s but he gets by because he’s a good technician, so someone like him would be an ideal mentor for the youngster. The key for Scharping will be refining his technique and footwork and proving that he’s athletic enough to stay in front of speed rushers off the edge.
Akron CB Kyron Brown
Brown isn’t showing up on many draft radars, despite some standout performances over the past few years with the Zips, which often involved him being left on an island.
Brown is tall and displays good competitiveness in man coverage along with impressive ball skills and physicality. His coverage numbers were consistently good throughout his career and he’s another player who could be a good contributor on special teams.
If a team takes a flyer on Brown in the late rounds or even as an undrafted free agent, don’t be surprised if he makes a push for a roster spot.
North Carolina DE Malik Carney
Carney was a consistent but unspectacular player in his college career, as he had 5.5 sacks as a sophomore, 5.5 again in his junior year and then six as a senior. However, he missed four games due to a suspension last year, so could have posted a more impressive number without that.
Although he’s arguably slightly undersized at just over 250 pounds, Carney uses his hands well to get off blocks and plays with good leverage. He also moves well in space and his combine numbers (4.73 forty, 25 bench press reps) were adequate.
Carney is the type of player that experts will project in the late rounds, prioritizing bigger names or players with higher sack counts ahead of him. However, he could go earlier on day three as teams will see him as a player with a good foundation.
Alabama OLB Jamey Mosley
Finally, while Mosley’s body of work is not much to write home about, he’s a player who should get into a camp following a strong performance at Alabama’s pro day. Since he’s CJ Mosley’s brother, perhaps there’s a chance the Jets could be the team to pick him up.
Mosley is 6’5” and 240 pounds and ran a 4.70 in the 40-yard dash at his pro day. He also put up 17 bench press reps and a 118” broad jump before looking good in positional drills.
The Crimson Tide has so much NFL-level defensive talent that it was hard for Mosley to get on the field, as he only had 18 tackles and one sack in his college career, with much of his production coming in garbage time. However, at a lower-profile school, he could have seen the field more often and established himself as a player worth watching.