We are two days into the NFL Draft and the Jets have just killed it so far. I was not a fan of trading picks to move up to draft Alijah Vera-Tucker but I love the player. We missed out on some opportunities to possibly draft some quality 3rd round guys. We could have been interested in drafting Kendrick Green, Tommy Tremble or trading up for a Dillon Radunz or Creed Humphrey but that is now all in the past.
The Jets have 3 very high quality prospects who all have just fantastic skill sets. They should be leaders on the Jets for years to come. These players are building blocks but the job is not done yet. The Jets still have six picks left in the draft which will be (barring trades) 2/3rds of their draft. Picks; Fourth Round: Pick #107 + Pick #143, Fifth Round: Pick #146 + Pick #154, Sixth Round: Pick #186 + Pick #226 are yet to come.
So who are some possibilities for the Jets on Saturday?
These are 11 players the Jets should be looking at:
1) Jabril Cox OLB LSU 6’ 3 1/8” 233 lbs
How this guy is not drafted yet is just amazing to me he is what the NFL is looking for in a defender. Cox is a linear, athletic, speedy off ball linebacker who is a perfect fit for the new NFL. He has a lean frame with a well muscled upper torso and excellent length. He is a sideline to sideline type player if he can stay clean on the 2nd level. He has loose hips, he can turn to run with TEs or even some slot receivers.
He has 26 passes defended plus 9 INTs in his career which is more than most safeties or corners. He has excellent lateral movement and change of direction speed; he moves like an athletic safety in a LB body. His speed, length and athleticism make him a great candidate to be a occasional blitzer off the edge although he wasn’t used that way. He could be a Sam or Will with equal upside. He has a 2nd gear when in coverage or when closing on a ball carrier. He is said to be liked by his peers, a workaholic and very goal oriented person and player. He is a 3 down LB who will rarely come off the field plus can even play on special teams if needed. He has played in all types of coverages in his career including man, zone or off coverages over the slot. He is a very fluid player who moves effortlessly in space and gets there quickly. Cox is a work in progress but he could become a superstar with the right coaching. He has the physical makeup DCs dream of as an off ball outside LB.
His coverage skills are already top notch. He can turn and mirror TEs plus his height and length are tough to throw over. He is said to he a humble hard working player who is just trying to get better every day. He has the talent to become a top 5 OLB in the NFL if he develops or a ST player or a passing game specialist if he doesn’t.
2) Dylan Moses OLB Alabama 6’ 1 3/4” 235 lbs
Moses combines great speed and instinctive play along with elite tackling ability to be a difference maker on the defense. Moses has sideline to sideline ability to make plays on the edges while having the upper body strength to take on linemen. He has a lean, well chiseled body with superior speed to make plays in the run or passing game. He also has experience playing all three LB positions with him moving to the Mike LB position for the 2020 season. Moses has a high football IQ and he has a workout regimen that keeps him in peak physical condition all year round. He ran a 4.46/40 as a 14 year old at an LSU football camp. He can be a tackling machine, chasing down ball carriers he missed only 13 tackles in 205 attempts at Alabama. He is a sudden player, makes a read then goes.
He played in 2020 when his team needed him despite not being fully healed from the 2019 knee injury in practice that kept him sidelined all year. He had to fight through pain, mental anguish of trusting his knees and his grandmother’s death from the Covid epidemic. He fought through all year playing out of position as a Mike LB to help his team to a title. could be a draft day steal to a team in the 2nd round. He would be a superior Sam or Will LB with the ability to be a chase and tackle player on the 2nd level. Moses has not come close to playing his best football so if he can get the juices flowing again he is a playmaker. Moses has a top 10 off ball LB ceiling and a special teams player floor.
3) Austin Watkins Jr. UAB 6’ 1 1/2” 209 lbs
The Jets don’t really need another receiver but the talent is there. Watkins is a smart, strong, technically sound receiver who has the type of skill set that wins in the NFL. He has a very lean but well muscled frame that can be tough for a CB to handle. He has loose hips that can get in and out of breaks well; it’s what gains him separation. He is a strong “sum of the parts” type of receiver similar to Anquan Boldin but he is much faster than Boldin. He is not a speedster but he can run a complete route tree on all three levels of the defense.
He marches through press coverage, muscling past defenders then protecting his space with his ample frame. He knows the nuances of route running, plays the leverage game well and is always in great position to make a play on the ball. He had a 73% win catch rate in contested situations in his career and he only dropped a single catchable ball out of 100 while at UAB. He plays primarily outside but did have over 90 snaps out of the slot in his career. He dazzled in route running at the Senior Bowl, easily gaining separation from defenders. He is a fighter who will give his all for every catch and he is a natural hands catcher who catches the ball away from his frame. He can work zones, find the soft spot, and come back to his QB to make the catch. His catch radius is enormous. He can pick a ball that is at his feet or over his head using great focus, technique and concentration.
No matters who selects Watkins just remember the name, he could be a star in the future.
3) Kenneth Gainwell RB Memphis 5’ 8 3/8” 201 lbs
This is a player I though would interest the Jets with their stretch-zone running scheme. Gainwell has a perfect skill set for that type of offense with his fast/one cut style. Gainwell is an explosive runner with excellent receiving skills who has enough vision and wiggle to turn short gains into splash plays. He is a tough little runner who is unafraid to run between the tackles. He has a jump cut to make the first man miss then is a sudden player who can quickly get back up to speed then down the field. He is best used in space where his excellent vision and cutting ability can turn a short pass into a game changing play.
He is not just a dump off RB. He has skills to run a variety of routes and could double as a fine slot receiver if needed. He would be impossible for a LB in coverage his agility and cutting ability would leave them in the dust. He has WR type hands as he caught over 86% of his targets in his college career with only 3 drops. He averaged 12 yards per reception in 2019 (opted out of 2020) on 51 receptions in 14 games. He was a workhorse like back at Memphis despite his smaller stature handling over 20 touches a game. He can play in any offensive scheme with the speed to turn the corner and the hips to be a solid one cut runner. He would be great in an offense with spread type principles or a wide stretch zone scheme where his acceleration through the hole could be valuable. He plays off his blocks well, his vision is excellent. He sees breaks at the next level before they appear plus he makes tacklers miss by making them stop their feet with a stutter step before exploding out of a cut in another direction. Gainwell is an electric RB who may need a OC who can game script him 10 plays a game to use him effectively. He is a home run hitter who will do his own thing at times but he is a big play waiting to happen as a RB or slot WR.
4) Derrick Barnes ILB Purdue 6’ 0 3/8” 238 lbs
I know I have banged the drum loudly on Barnes but the guy is a fast, free flowing stud who can run sideline to sideline. He hits like a Chevy and is usually a sound tackler on the inside but he can play any LB position. Barnes is an exceptional athlete with speed, power, length and a varied skill set. He packs a huge wallop when he hits plus he has superior speed for a man his size. He was switched from a rush LB in 2019 to a off ball ILB in 2020 and was a tackling machine averaging 9 tackles a game. As a part time edge rusher in 2019 he has 8 sacks and11 tackles for loss so he is adept at numerous spots within the first two lines of defense. He played in 39 games in4 years for the boilermakers with 32 starts.
He has a lean but heavily muscled frame with superior length to keep blockers at arms length then make the tackle. He showed great anticipation to fill the right hole then make a perfect textbook tackle as a MLB despite the fact that he had never played the position before 2020. He’s played in space mostly in zone coverage but he has the ability to cover TEs or play as a Sam LB. He uses his diminutive stature well to increase his leverage, in this way he is able to hold the edge (helped by his great length) at under 240 lbs. He has extensive use on special teams which is an added bonus, he is a part time player who can do multiple roles. Barnes is an intriguing prospect in that he has the ability to play any LB position and play it well once he has a chance to learn the position. He is a run and hit LB no matter where he plays, and his ST and edge experience only help his ability to be a force on a defense right away. Barnes has been a under the radar type of player because of his teams lack of real success over the years and the lack of NFL players from his school. His size and speed and playing style is very similar to Ray Lewis. Now he is not going to be a Ray Lewis but he can be a plus starting LB.
5) Tay Gowen CB UCF 6’ 0 7/8” 186 lbs
Gowan is a linear, fast, agile, long corner with traits for great man coverage skills. He is a juco transfer who played only 13 games of football (1 in the MAC, 12 in AAC) but gave up the 2nd lowest passer rating into his coverage 26.6. He has a smooth, rapid but quiet backpedal in off coverage with a great ability to read the play then click and close on the throw. He allowed a total of 13 first downs into his coverage in 12 career starts. He doesn’t have great length but he makes up for it with a thin frame that keeps him closer to the receiver than most CBs could ever get. He then will go through the receivers hands from behind without hitting the receiver to break up the pass. His speed and height along with his lateral quickness keep him in the hip pocket of the receiver down the field.
He can play against matchup with receivers much taller than him because of his speed and body type. He is a natural press corner who you lineup outside and let him go to work. He is a strong, confident young man with a high football IQ. he is not afraid to stick his nose in and make a tackle. He has 31 tackles as an outside only corner with 2 INTs and 8 PBU in12 games in 2019 (he opted out of 2020). He is a long strider with surprising quicks to come down fast in zone or off coverage to make a tackle or break up a pass. He only allowed a 40% completion percentage in 2019. He can also excel in a cover 3 scheme where his ability to break on the ball would be of great use. He can play any scheme but a system where he is coming towards the ball instead of away from it would be best.
6) Cameron Sample DE/DT Tulane 6’ 2 3/4” 267 lbs
Sample is a relentless player with a great combination of quickness/speed plus very good hand usage to attack from a end or tackle position. He holds the edge well on running plays plus he has the versatility to drop down inside on passing downs to give the line more true pass rushers. He has quick hands plus uses a nice combination of arm over/under moves, also a swim and a chop to get lineman’s hands off him. He has very quick feet, can change direction rapidly, going from outside then countering inside across a lineman’s face.
He is too quick for some very stout linemen as he can get them moving in one direction then turning on a dime to use that momentum against them. He played in 41 games with the Green Wave so he has a great assortment of moves but also has an understanding of many defensive/offensive formations and strategies. He never takes a play off, plays to the echo of the whistle always moving towards the ball. He has good (not great) lean of the edge that could be enhanced by NFL coaching. He is a film junkie who studies opponents for weaknesses, a tireless worker on technique. He has a lean, muscular body that can power by or squeeze through tight areas. He was well liked by coaches as well as teammates with great character, he would be a solid locker room voice. He played through an assortment of nagging injuries during sophomore, junior years and is now healthy, leaner and in better shape than he was earlier in career.
7) Nate Hobbs CB Illinois 5’ 11 1/2” 196 lbs
Nate Hobbs is a super athletic CB with good length, great speed, quickness and the mental fortitude to excel in any defensive scheme. He has quick feet with great lateral agility, his backpedal is rapid but smooth. Played in a lot of cover 3 and off man at Illinois. He has the ability to run with receivers, great deep ball tracking, gets his head turned around in coverage. He is a solid tackler who will come from the secondary and put a lick on a ball carrier he is not afraid to stick his nose in the fray. He had over 160 tackles in his career playing mostly as a cover 3 corner. llinois was run on by opponents unmercifully the last 3 years; over 70% of the offensive plays against the Illinois defense were runs in 2020, 62+% in 2019 and 57+% in 2018. This also led to the low INT total and pass defended numbers by Hobbs 3 INTs and 11 PBU in 38 games of which he started 35. Mainly his good coverage in zone worked to less targets. He has loose hips and is able to turn in transition without losing contact with the receiver. He is a tough kid who will fight larger receivers for the ball.
He has very good balance to be able to jump with receivers to knock the ball away. He was a high school long jump and high jump champion which aids with contested catches. Hobbs is a solid, tough kid with great mental toughness who has the skill set to be a special player in the NFL. He has some special teams experience so he could start out as a nickel/dime corner and a special teams maven until he gets up to speed with pro defenses. He lacks press experience but would be perfect in a cover 3 system where he can use his speed and athletic ability to close on receivers and make plays. Playing against so many run heavy schemes in college he may need time to decipher route combinations. He has
Pro Bowl type talent if he develops.
Other players of interest:
Jonathan Adams Jr. WR Arkansas st 6’ 3” 225 lbs
4.45/40 41.5 Vert 137.0” Broad jump plus a 6.90 3-cone drill
Semi Fehoko WR Stanford 6’ 3 7/8” 222 lbs
A player who has played outside and in the slot
Paris Ford SS Pittsburgh 6’ 0 1⁄2“ 197 lbs
A player with great instincts from the back end.
Tyler Coyle FS Purdue 6’ 0 1/2” 209 lbs
4.36/40 24 reps on the bench. A 4 year starter who was a captain with two different schools. Graduated in 3 years with an economics degree, smart kid who is an incredible athlete and a hard hitter.
There are many options but these are some prime candidates for the Jets.
Have fun today