As we lead up to the NFL Draft, it’s a good idea to keep up with whom the Jets are planning visits, are interviewing, and are attending their Pro Days. Of course, we can’t read too much into what we do know. The Jets employ a “no stone unturned” philosophy and the team has one of the bigger and better scouting staffs in the league, which means they are always conspicuously present at Pro Days, etc. So for instance while we knew last year that the Jets extended an invite to CB Kyle Wilson to visit, we totally whiffed on on the Jets keen interest in RB Shonn Greene two years ago.
CB Josh Gatlin (North Dakota State) 6-1, 196, 4.37 40yd dash
Projection: 4-5 Description: Gatlin, the cousin of Olympic sprinter Justin, impressed teams at the Texas vs. The Nation game, where he had a brilliant interception. Gatlin is very strong in man coverage and is physical against opposing receivers. He is also very versatile as he can play receiver, as well as return kicks and punts. Although his athletic abilities are continuing to impress, he is still very raw and scouts are worried about his level of competition in college. The Jets were on hand for his Pro Day and put him through agility and strength tests.
CB Chykie Brown (Texas) 5-11, 190, 4.49 40yd dash
Projection: 4-5 Description: Brown has a meeting coming up with the Jets. In addition, Dennis Thurman was present at Brown’s Pro Day. He is an athletic, physical corner with great tools who plays a mix of off-man and press coverage. He takes good angles on the ball and locates it well in the air. Brown has a tendency to get overpowered and shielded by big, strong receivers on the outside. Durability is a concern as he missed three games as a sophomore due to a sprained ankle and multiple games in 2010 with a broken right forearm.
CB Ryan Jones (Northwest Missouri State) 5-11, 197, 4.38 40yd dash
Projection: 6-7 Description: Jones was not invited to the combine, but talked to the Jets at the NFLPA Texas vs. The Nation All-Star game. Despite QB’s throwing away from him this past season, Jones had six interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns. He displays great athleticism, size and speed and the ability to turn and run. He has experience playing in both man and zone coverage and makes plays in the run game. However, scouts are worried about his level of competition. Also, he often appears so focused on his back-pedal that he often seems to be reacting instead of trusting his eyes and anticipating routes.
FS Jaiquawn Jarrett (Temple) 6-0, 198, 4.62 40yd dash
Projection: 4-5 Description: The Jets have a visit set up with Jarrett. Scouts have been impressed with Jarrett’s versatility and his football instincts, and have hinted that he could play multiple positions in the NFL. He plays the run very well, and is a good wrap up tackler. He needs more experience in man coverage, and his footwork is a little sloppy at times, especially when breaking forward and changing directions.
CB/FS Mistral Raymond (South Florida) 6-1, 192, 4.54 40yd dash
Projection: 7-UDFA Description: The Jets gave Raymond what he referred to as a personality test. Raymond has experience at both safety and cornerback, but it’s his upside at the cornerback spot that has teams most excited about his development. He prides himself in getting better and is very coachable. Scouts have been quoted as saying Raymond is reluctant to stick his nose in big piles and he doesn’t always utilize his ample speed. He was not invited to the combine.
SS Tommy Irvin (Wofford) 6-1, 209, 4.72 40yd dash
Projection: 7-UDFA Description: He is active against the run and has good closing speed. Irvin picked off four passes as a senior and led Wofford in tackles in each of his final two seasons. Scouts have noted that coverage is his main weakness as Irvin is considered a box type safety. He has been flying under the radar as he did not receive invites to any all-star games or the NFL Combine. The Jets attended his pro day.
Analysis: With Cromartie, Smith, Ihedigbo, and Pool all possibly hitting free agency, the Jets might want to add a defensive back via the draft. Interestingly, it appears the team is targeting mostly small school players. Many of the prospects can play either safety or corner, further hinting that the Jets may let some of their free agents walk.
DEFENSIVE FRONT SEVEN
OLB Sam Acho (Texas) 6-2, 257, 4.68 40yd dash
Projection: Rd 3 Description: The Jets have set up an interview with Acho, who is looking to transition from a more standard 4-3 End to a 3-4 Linebaker. Acho works hard and is smart but there are questions about his abilities to drop in coverage and doesn’t have elite pass-rushing abilities like others in the draft class — which is why he could be available during the third round.
OLB Lawrence Wilson (Connecticut) 6-1, 229, 4.55 40yd dash
Projection: Rd 3-4 Description: A solid pass rusher, the Jets met with Wilson at his Pro Day. He has sideline-to-sideline range and is a reliable tackler who has the ability to deliver the big hit. He struggles to get off of blocks once he is engaged and has some trouble between the tackles in tight quarters.
OLB Scott Lutrus (Connecticut) 6-2, 241, 4.68 40yd dash
Projection: Rd 5-6 Description: Lutrus had a workout with the Jets. Lutrus played a rush DE on passing downs, and a Husky spot most of the rest of the time. He is a smart blitzer and picks his lanes well. Scouts have determined that he doesn’t shed blocks quick enough. Also he needs to work on adding some moves and using his hands more when he rushes the passer.
OLB Mark Herzlich (Boston College) 6-4, 244, 4.92 40yd dash
Projection: Rd 4-5 Description: The Jets attended Herzlich’s Pro Day. Herzlich seems to always be around the ball and has displays good initial quickness toward the line of scrimmage against the run. During the Senior Bowl, scouts said Herzlich was beaten in coverage and proved ineffective rushing the passer. While his story of overcoming bone cancer is an inspiring one, the reality is, many NFL teams might be concerned about his disease’s recurrence.
ILB Elijah “Peanut” Joseph (Temple) 6-2, 243
Projection: Rd 7-UDFA Description: The Jets are bringing “Peanut” in for an official visit in April. He has experience at both inside and outside linebacker. Peanuts’ senior season was cut short with a knee injury that he suffered in November against Ohio. Thus, he has not been able to work out for scouts, but plans on doing so a week before the draft. Despite his injury he still led the Temple defense in solo tackles last season. He hits with a lot of power and can drive the ball carrier backwards. Peanut also times his blitzes well and lays big hits on the quarterbacks. However, he often gets engulfed by linemen inside and struggles to read misdirection. Furthermore, he lacks the strength to get off blocks, and is not fast enough to make plays along the sideline.
ILB Ross Cochran (North Dakota) 6-1, 250 4.71 40yd dash
Projection: UDFA Description: The Jets scouting staff visited with Cochran at the UND Pro Day. Scouts have praised his work ethic. Cochran will get involved in a lot of tackles and scouts have noted that he has above average pursuit. Unfortunately, Cochran’s speed will be an issue in the NFL. He is also not much of a factor in pass defense and has been coined a workout warrior.
DE/LB Justin Houston (Georgia) 6-3, 270, 4.68 40yd dash
Projection: Rd 1-2 Description: The Jets are flying Houston in for a workout at Florham Park in April. Houston is a tremendous pass rusher, finishing last season with 18.5 tackles for loss, 10 sacks and 44 quarterback hurries. He is a versatile player, having played both defensive end and linebacker in college. Houston has good upper-body strength and arm length to fight off blocks at the point of attack. He has an explosive burst upfield and knows how to vary his speed off the edge. However, he is still learning to use his hands and relies on his burst to beat blockers, thus lacking a repertoire of rush moves.
DE Ryan Kerrigan (Purdue) 6-4, 267, 4.67 40yd dash
Projection: 1 Description: The Jets have an official visit lined up with Kerrigan. Despite playing a 4-3 in college, scouts believe he could be effective as either an OLB or DE in a 3-4. As a run defender, he’s stout at the point of attack and reads the action well. As a pass rusher, he has displays nice quickness and anticipates the snap well. While Kerrigan plays with intensity, he sometimes gets too aggressive and will overpursue or bite on play fakes. Scouts are also worried that he might struggle to corral quick and elusive NFL backs.
DE Cory Liuget (Illinois) 6-2, 298
Projection: 1 Description: Liuget’s Pro Day was attended by Rex Ryan himself, a pretty good indication that the Jets are taking a serious the Defensive Tackle in next month’s Draft that could well be available at the end of the first round.
DE Ty Boyle (North Dakota) 6-4, 285
Projection: UDFA Description: The Jets scouting staff visited with Boyle at the UND Pro Day. Boyle is an emotional leader on and off the field. He played in a 3-4 defense in college and was able to absorb and take on double teams because of his size. Boyle is raw and needs to improve on stopping the run.
Projection: Rd 6-7 Description: Fua is a superb run-stopper and has experience playing the nose in a 3-4. He is a strong, powerful bull rusher who jolts the offensive lineman and gets leverage early. He was told by scouts he will need to gain weight if he wants to continue his nose tackle role at the next level. Fua does not run well and struggles to make plays away from his frame. He also lacks the awareness to locate the football once he’s through the line. Fua has a private workout scheduled with the Jets.
Analysis: With Sione Pouha turning 32 and Shaun Ellis’ future up in the air, the Jets will likely turn to the draft to help make their line younger. Fua and Ogbu are intriguing possibilities for the Jets later in the draft. Both are great at stopping the run and would provide nice depth for years to come. (The Jets would then have two Sione’s on the line). As far as the linebackers go, it appears the team is looking for a pass rusher. Rex has been looking for his version of Terrell Suggs since he became the Jets head coach two years ago. Scouts have seen shades of Suggs in Houston, so look for his name to be called on draft night. If the team decides to go a different direction in the first round, look for Peanut or Lutrus later in the draft as both are very solid pass rushers.
OT Michael Arndt (NDSU) 6-6, 319, 19 reps at 225
Projection: UDFA Description: Jets scouts put Arndt through agility and blocking drills at his Pro Day. He started at left tackle for the past two seasons. Arndt is a physical tackle, who has the size needed to be a serviceable offensive lineman at the next level. However, he must improve his technique and become stronger if he wants to be a productive player in the NFL.
OL Will Rackley (Lehigh) 6-3, 309, 29 reps at 225
Projection: Rd 3-4 Description: Rackley played tackle in college, but scouts project he will be better suited as a guard in the NFL. Solid run-blocker who can use work in pass protection. Rackley has a workout set up with the Jets and numerous other teams.
C Brandon Fusco (Slippery Rock) 6-4, 306, 26 reps at 225
Projection: Rd 5-6 Description: Jets appear to be extremely interested in Fusco who said the Jets are flying him out in April for a visit. Furthermore, Fusco said Jets OL Coach Bill Callahan was impressed with his pro day. Fusco is a solid pass protecter with great footwork. He is very smart and physical and a leader on and off the field. However, Fusco needs to keep driving his feet during blocks. As a result, stronger bull rushers can be effective against him. He also lacks position versatility, as he projects only as a center prospect.
OG Ray Dominguez (Arkansas) 6-4, 334, 21 reps at 225
Projection: Rd 5-6 Description: Scouts believe Dominguez isn’t quick and agile enough to be an offensive tackle in the NFL, but think he is worth a look as a right tackle in certain schemes. He is a very solid run blocker and does a reasonably good job staying low and playing with good pad level. Dominguez has limited change-of-direction agility, and has real problems turning on the move. The Jets are bringing him in for an official visit.
OT Zane Taylor (Utah) 6-3, 313, 41 reps at 225
Projection: Rd 7 Description: Bill Callahan himself attended the Pro Day at Utah to work out Taylor, along with some other heavies like Tom Cable and Dante Scarnecchia. Taylor looks like he’d project to either Guard or maybe even a RT for the Jets.
Analysis: The Jets released Damien Woody earlier this offseason. While the consensus has been that Vladimir Ducasse will take over the reigns at right tackle, he is still very raw and may need another year before he is ready to tackle the starting role. The Jets may look to the draft to provide some depth at tackle, incase Ducasse is not ready to go. Rob Turner is also a restricted free agent, and in the unlikely circumstance that the let him walk, the team will need to replace him with someone who can play multiple positions (Rackley?)
QB Josh Portis (California University of Pennsylvania) 6-0, 231, 4.63 40yd dash
Projection: Rd 6-7 Description: The cousin of former Pro Bowl running back Clinton Portis, met with the Jets at the combine. Portis has all the physical tools to succeed at the next level, but has serious character issues. He attended three schools since 2005 and this past season was arrested for using a stolen credit card. Had the fifth fastest time for a QB at the combine. Despite his 4.6 speed, Portis has predominantly been a pass-first quarterback in college. Has a big arm and was one of the most accurate passers at the combine. Portis is known to make poor decisions at times and still needs work learning how to read defenses.
QB Pat Devlin (Delaware) 6-3, 225, 4.81 40yd dash
Projection: Rd 6-7 Description: The Jets sent QB coach Matt Cavanaugh to Devlin’s Pro Day, and Delaware coach K.C. Keeler noted that Jets have come to Delaware to scout Devlin more than most teams. Cavanaugh could only comment on Devlin’s character, calling him a “great kid.” A Penn State transfer, Devlin’s has a quick release and does a solid job leading his man to the ball on crossing routes. However, Devlin possesses an average arm strength and has had problems throwing spirals in the past. Scouts have noted the the ball comes out wobbly too often.
QB Tyrod Taylor (Virginia Tech) 6-1, 217, 4.47 40yd dash
Projection: Rd 6-7 Description: The Jets are apparently in “hot pursuit” of Taylor. He is an athletic dual-threat quarterback who can make big plays with his arm and his leg and displays good accuracy. However, Taylor holds the ball too long in the pocket and doesn’t secure the ball when running, which could be a problem because he projects to be either a running back or wide receiver at the next level.
RB Taiwan Jones (Eastern Washington) 6-0, 197
Projection: Rd 5-6 Description: The Jets talked to Jones at the combine. He has been limited because of a broken foot, but is holding a private workout April 14th, where he plans to fully participate. When he is healthy, Jones is an elusive back but has the ability to run between the tackles. Jones has been referred to as the most electrifying open-field runner in the draft. Jones has struggled with injuries throughout his career and has been described by scouts as immature and naive. Jones also lacks the bulk and power to handle a steady diet of interior running.
RB Bilal Powell (Louisville) 5-11, 207, 4.51 40yd dash
Projection: Rd 5-6 Description: The Jets are flying in Powell for an official visit. He had a very nice showing at the Senior Bowl, but was limited at the combine because of a hamstring injury. Along with durability concerns, scouts are worried that he may be a one year wonder due to the fact that he only had 207 career carries heading into his senior season. Nonetheless, because of his size, Powell is power runner and very tough for corners to bring down one-on-one. He has shown the ability to catch passes in the flat, and proved last season that he can turn upfield and accelerate quickly.
RB Chad Spann (Northern Illinois) 5-8, 201, 4.53 40yd dash
Projection: UDFA Description: Spann was snubbed by the Combine, and looks like he might be a Day Three pick at the highest, but his solid 40 on his Pro Day definitely helped his standing. That Chargers’ GM AJ Smith was at the Pro Day himself is an interesting note, and Spann is definitely in that diminutive RB/ST/KR mold that the Jets seem to be paying special attention to this draft class. The Jets have “contacted” him, but not much more is known at the present. Spann is a quick, explosive runner who has been very productive as a starter. Because of his size, he is not a very effective as pass blocker.
WR Edmond Gates (Abilene Christian) 6-0, 192, 4.31 40yd dash
Projection: 2-3 Description: Gates is a very raw talent, but has terrific upside. He runs well in the open field and is tough to bring down. He has exceptional straight-line speed and is always a threat to burn down the sideline. He also had success as a kick return specialist in college. However, Gates needs to improve on his route running. He also has shown a tendency to drop the ball, especially when he feels a hit coming over the middle. He met with the Jets at the combine.
WR Vidal Hazelton (Cincinnati) 6-2, 210, 4.57, 40yd dash
Projection: 7-UDFA Description: A New York native, has a private workout scheduled with the Jets. Hazelton originally went to USC where he was one of Mark Sanchez’s favorite targets, but transferred to Cincinnati after Sanchez jumped to the NFL. Hazelton is somewhat of a mystery. He had to sit out of football for the 2009 season because of his transfer and then suffered a season ending knee injury in the opening game of the 2010 season. Thus, he hasn’t played much football for three years which is a major concern to scouts. However, when healthy Hazelton has tremendous potential. He is an unbelievable athlete who will likely be a possession receiver at the next level. He did not receive an invite to the NFL combine.
WR Jock Sanders (West Virginia) 5-7, 184, 4.50 40yd dash
Projection: 7-UDFA Description: Sanders played both RB and WR in college. He is a great overall athlete with superb quickness and agility. He is an etremely shifty runner and accelerates quickly after the catch. He is dangerous in the open field. However, Sanders is very undersized and is not physical at all with defenders. As a result, defenders easily wrap him up on first contact. Scouts have stated that he tries to run around defenders on every route and struggles to beat the jam at at the line. He met with the Jets at the combine.
WR Randall Cobb (Kentucky) 5-10, 191, 4.46 40yd dash
Projection: 2-3 Description: Jets running back coach Anthony Lynn worked out Cobb at his Pro Day. At Kentucky, he saw time as a quarterback and was a run/throw/pass threat. As a WR, Cobb excels at getting open quickly with cuts and burst. Scout have praised his route running as well as his elusiveness to escape coverage. He rarely puts the ball on the ground and can be counted on to field punts and kickoffs cleanly. Cobb isn’t very physical when fighting for the ball and is prone to getting bumped off of his route easily. Because of his size, he can’t be counted on as a blocking wide receiver.
Analysis: Brad Smith is set to be a free agent, and by the look of this it appears he may have put on a Jets uniform for the last time. It is very likely that Portis and Taylor will be moved to WR at the next level, much like Smith was when he came out of college. Both will provide that ability to play in the seminole for the Jets. Furthermore, Cobb, a WR, played under center in college and also has experience as a kick returner. Spann, too, excelled as a kick returner in college, and in a recent interview, CB Justin Gatson said he is a WR/KR/PR threat as well. All that added up doesn’t bode well for Smith’s future in NY.
At RB, Taiwan Jones reminds me of LT in his prime. For that reason, I can see the Jets snagging Jones later in the draft and have him sit behind LT for a year while he learns the ropes.
At WR, despite being out of football for a few years Hazelton is a very intriguing option. He had an unbelievable season with Sanchez at USC with Sanchez under center, and has the tool set to be a productive receiver in the NFL.
If you hear of any visits or notable contact between the Jets and draftable players, please send it on in!