Over at the MMQB, Greg A. Bedard (whose analysis we have a lot of respect for) treats us to part one of his countdown of the top 100 free agents.
As he counts down from 100 to 51, there are three in particular of interest to Jets fans. He projects Austin Howard (No. 92 in his list) as most likely to return to the Jets, Willie Colon (No. 78) to end up in Atlanta and the Jets to be the most likely destination for Rams guard Shelley Smith (No. 81).
Bent, TheJetsBlog.comWhile Bedard is presumably just guessing rather than basing these choices on any behind-the-scenes intel, it’s always interesting to see some different names linked to the Jets, so Smith is worth evaluating.
Smith is a 26-year old former 6th round pick, who would be at home in a system where he might be required to showcase some mobility. Run blocking is definitely his strength, although he only gave up two sacks in 371 snaps last year, according to Pro Football Focus. PFF also graded him as the 4th best run blocking guard in the league despite the fact that he played a lot less than most of the top guys. While Smith only started two games, he did play more than half of the snaps in six out of the last seven games, as the Rams used him in a rotational role (at both guard positions) from week five onwards. He had started six games due to injury in 2012.
While it will be interesting to see who Bedard “mocks” to the Jets out of his top 50, don’t forget that there will also be plenty of free agents who have been cut by their team or who were a restricted free agent that didn’t get tendered. You can expect the Jets to target such players because we know that those don’t count in the compensatory pick calculation and this is apparently something the current regime has been taking into consideration when formulating their big picture strategies.