One week today we’ll all be celebrating or commiserating the Jets selections for the first round of the NFL draft. I think we all know where we’re going at #2, but what happens at #23? Do the Jets stay and pick for need, stay and pick the best player available, or trade down for more picks? It’s an interesting decision. As always if you want to see the back issues of this newsletter please head HERE.
Jets Don’t Attend Trey Lance’s Pro Day
Last week Justin Fields held his 2nd pro-day and the Jets were in attendance. This week it was the turn of North Dakota State star QB Trey Lance to showcase his talents once again. There were only four teams in attendance (New England, San Francisco, Denver and Atlanta). Maybe the Jets have 100% committed to Wilson to the extent that they didn’t need to see any more from North Dakota. Maybe the Jets headed to Fields 2nd pro-day to confirm their Wilson pick, or maybe they went to check out other prospects that were working out like corner Shaun Wade. Read into this what you will.
Trey Lance is one of the more exciting draft prospects in this draft. He wasn’t heavily recruited out of high school receiving just 7 offers. Now many tip him to be a top-10 selection in a weeks time.
His 2019 season put him on the map, and it’s his only full year starting in college. He threw for 2,788 yards, 28 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. His arm talent is remarkable, the ball comes out of his hand like a missile. He makes smart decisions with the football, in fact he attempted 288 passes in 2019 and only four of them were deemed turnover worthy, so not only did he avoid any interceptions, he really didn’t offer up many chances.
Lance is a bit of a leap of faith in the same way Josh Allen was a lead of faith. He has one year of starting experience in a run-heavy offensive system playing FCS competition. He only completed 50% of his passes in 2020, all be it on a small sample size of 30 throws. He completed 66.7% in 2019, but there are a lot of misses on tape and his ball placement will be a concern in a league where every inch is key. He’s also got relatively small hands at 9.13” (16th percentile) which may not seem important, but small hands on a QB sometimes scare teams away.
Lance has all the talent in the world, and when analysts say he could be the best QB in this draft class, you can see why they say it. I still think Lance would benefit from a year or two behind an established starter.
Let’s Talk About Drake Jackson
You could be forgiven for not knowing the name Drake Jackson as we edge closer and closer to the NFL draft. He’s a player who rarely gets mentioned when it comes to offensive lineman and rarely gets mentioned when it comes to the Jets. However, in my opinion, that’s a mistake.
You could say the Jets don’t actually need a centre, Joe Douglas signed Connor McGovern to a three year $27 million deal before the 2020 season, and you don’t give that kind of money out unless you really believe in that player. McGovern was poor in 2020, but most appreciate that he’s likely to be much better in the outside zone scheme the Jets will be running.
Some would prefer the Jets to target one of the top guys in the draft like Creed Humphrey, and I’d be all for that. However, if the Jets decide to take a chance on a player lower in the draft there are two that stand out. Drew Dalman from Stanford and Drake Jackson from Kentucky. For the sake of today, we’re talking Drake Jackson.
Jackson is a four-year starter in the SEC for Kentucky, so he’s seen some of the best defensive players in the game. Over the last three years he has had exactly 1,000 pass-blocking snaps, so not total snaps, pass-blocking snaps. Over those 1,000 snaps he has allowed one sack, and one QB hit. That’s it.
Jackson is a zone centre, an outside zone centre. He achieved a 88 PFF grade when running zone last year. He needs to find the right system which will highlight his attributes (hand placement, athleticism, move blocking) and hide his flaws (lower body power, smaller frame, lighter body). Ask him to move nose tackles out the way in power-run games you’ll have problems. Ask him to protect the QB and block on the move and you’re going to get your monies worth. For me he’s a 4th round prospect with a lot of upside in the right scheme.
Zaven Collins - Old School/New School Hybrid
Yesterday I spoke about why I think the Jets have a need at linebacker and why I wouldn’t be surprised to see them address that early in the draft.
Another name to watch out for is Tulsa’s Zaven Collins. It’s impossible to watch Collins and not be impressed, he has the size of a tight end and the athleticism of one as well.
The important thing for Zaven is that he lands in a system that allows him to express the multiple facets to his game, whether that’s out in coverage or rushing the passer. He flashed game-changing potential at Tulsa on a regular basis and although his level of competition was less than elite, his skill set projects well to the next level.
Collins is a long defender (33/63” arms - 93rd percentile) who has over 700 coverage snaps to his name in college. For a big guy, he doesn’t tackle overly well with 37 missed tackles to his name over the last three years, but I’m confident that with good coaching that can be solved.
He’s certainly an interesting name to watch.
5 Interesting Stats
- Zaven Collins had a 93.7 PFF coverage grade last year, despite being 6’5 and 259lb’s.
- Pittsburgh Edge Rashad Weaver had 10 sacks and 32 QB hurries in 2020, just a year removed from an ACL injury in 2019
- Indiana safety Jamar Johnson allowed 0 TD’s in 2020, but came down with 4 INT’s.
- UAB wide receiver Austin Watkins had 0 drops on 55 targets last year and came down with 73% of his contested catches.
- Marshall RB Brenden Knox had 550 yards after contact last year and fumbled just once on 550 attempts in college.