10 Late-Round Prospects That Would Be a Perfect Fit for New York Jets
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To rebuild efficiently and economically, the New York Jets must strive to get a perfect fit from each draft choice. Every prospect, even a late-round selection, is a potential contributor.
Tom Brady is evidence that late-round draft picks do not solely exist to provide training camp bodies. In fact, several of the New York Jets' recent sixth-round and seventh-round picks are either still with the team or have moved on via free agency:
- 2009, sixth round: Guard Matt Slauson played four seasons with the Jets, winning a starting position. He just signed a one-year contract with the Chicago Bears for $815.000.
- 2011, seventh round: Quarterback Greg McElroy completed his second year in 2012. His personal highlight was relieving Mark Sanchez against Arizona and leading the Jets to victory.
- 2012, sixth and seventh rounds: Safeties Josh Bush (sixth) and Antonio Allen (seventh) completed their rookie seasons in 2012. The ourlads.com Jets' depth chart projects Bush as a starter and Allen as newly-signed Dawan Landry's backup in 2013.
- 2012, seventh round: Wide receiver Jordan White saw limited action in 2012, catching one pass for 13 yards in the final game of the season. He remains on the roster.
As much as the Jets need impact players, their late-round draft picks will most likely be "projects," players who need to add one or more dimensions to their games to qualify as every-down personnel. It's rare that someone who is ready to take over a position falls through the cracks to be available in these rounds, but it's possible.
The suggestions that follow might be that exception. At the very least, they represent players who can make small contributions in 2013 while refining their games to expand their roles in the seasons to come.
NOTE: There may not have been as many safeties had the Jets signed Landry earlier.
Scouting information on these players comes from their NFL Spring Combine participant profiles.
G: Oscar Johnson and Travis Bond
Oscar Johnson (#57) plays tackle for Copiah-Lincoln CC
With the loss of salary cap casualty Jason Smith, starting guard Matt Slauson and the potential loss of guard Brandon Moore and tackle Austin Howard, a player who has played both guard and tackle would be a valuable commodity. Louisiana Tech's Oscar Johnson is such a player.
The 6'5", 331-pound Johnson is similarly sized to Jets' offensive linemen D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Vladimir Ducasse and Austin Howard. Johnson’s size gives him power, his agility and flexibility help him make blocks beyond the line of scrimmage and take on multiple defenders in zone-blocking schemes.
Johnson's less than outstanding foot speed makes pulling out in front of NFL ball-carriers a challenge. Foot speed also impacts pass blocking, as his efforts to compensate for his foot speed adversely affect his balance.
However, even if Johnson doesn't improve enough to start, his ability to play both guard and tackle should make him a valued backup and substitute, especially if injuries strike.
If the Jets lose Brandon Moore in addition to Slauson, they should consider inviting Travis Bond to camp as well. This 6'6", 329-pound North Carolina guard's size and quick feet enable him to be a powerful force in running plays, where he overpowers opposing linebackers with regularity.
Bond's size works to his advantage in pass blocking as well, enabling him to obstruct defensive tackles' path to the quarterback quickly and efficiently.
He has some issues with body positioning and hand use that make his open-field blocking and pass blocking less effective. However, Bond combines imposing size with surprising mobility. He could solidify the Jets' front line for years to come.
K: Quinn Sharp
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With the re-signing of Nick Folk, drafting a kicker is probably not on the Jets' priority list. However, should no better options exist in the later rounds, Oklahoma State kicker Quinn Sharp's record as both kicker and punter presents some interesting options for the team.
In 2010, the 6'1", 189-pound Sharp earned Football Writers' Association of America All-American honors as a punter with an average of over 46 yards per kick. Football Writers' Association named him its All-American placekicker in 2011 and 2012. Sharp made 50 of 59 collegiate field-goal attempts.
Of Sharp's 384 collegiate kickoffs, 220 resulted in touchbacks, including 70 percent of his kickoffs in 2012. This raises an intriguing possibility for the Jets. They could bring him aboard to evaluate as placekicker, punter and kickoff specialist, most likely his initial role.
At the same time, he would be refining his placekicking and punting skills, preparing himself to fill either function in case of injury or retirement.
Sharp's scouting report considers him similar to former Giants' kicker Lawrence Tynes.
ILB: John Lotulelei
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This 5'11", 233-pound linebacker from UNLV bears no relation to the better-known Utah defensive tackle, Star Lotulelei. However, John has noteworthy athletic abilities of his own, such as above-average leaping ability and footwork, that will help him contribute to both the Jets' linebacking corps and special teams.
Lotulelei's vertical jump of 35.5 inches and three-cone drill time of 6.91 seconds indicate an agility that may help him compensate for his average height. His low center of gravity and compact yet strong frame enables him to take on ball-carriers and blockers alike. He is also capable of disrupting stretch plays developing behind the line of scrimmage.
Pass coverage is suspect, which is why Lotulelei will most likely make his initial contribution on special teams.
On special teams, he'll apply his leaping ability to attempts at blocking kicks as he attacks from an interior position.
He should help the Jets solidify their inside run defense as well as their special teams.
SS: Earl Wolff
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Earl Wolff's combine report projects him to be a middle-round pick. If he slips down to the lower rounds, the Jets should consider grabbing the hard-hitting, wide-ranging safety who was a two-way player in high school.
Scouts liken this 5'11", 209-pound safety from North Carolina State to Yeremiah Bell. Although Wolff's average size makes him vulnerable to ball-carriers and receivers of above-average strength, he is not easily intimidated. He determines the point of attack quickly and isn't afraid to be physical. His quickness and football intelligence allow him to be a factor in plays far from his starting position.
At the combine, Wolff ran the 40-yard dash in 4.44 seconds. He recorded a vertical jump of 39.0 inches, a broad jump of 134.0 inches and ran the 20-yard shuttle in 4.07 seconds.
Wolff plays effectively against both the run and the pass, and delivers the solid tackling that coaches Rex Ryan, Dennis Thurman and Tim McDonald should love.
OLB: Etienne Sabino
Sabino leaves his feet to make a tackle against Nebraska.
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Etienne Sabino, a 6'2", 247-pound linebacker from Ohio State, might be the all-purpose outside linebacker the Jets need. He'll just have to prove it over time.
Sabino has the size, speed and athleticism to do it all: stop running backs, cover tight ends and blitz. However, he needs to display an ability to move laterally and refine his hand techniques. His collegiate career saw him play extensively on special teams, which may be his initial NFL assignment.
If current Jets backups assume starting roles in 2013, they'll need replacements on special teams. Sabino offers the capability of assuming that role in the short term while working his way to an outside linebacker role in seasons to come.
FS: T.J. McDonald
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McDonald is the son of San Francisco 49ers' veteran and Jets' defensive backs coach Tim McDonald. This 6'2", 219-pound safety from USC combines a nose for the ball with aggressive hitting. He can be a ball-hawking threat in passing situations.
However, unless McDonald improves his ability to move laterally and respond to opponents' changes of direction, he will not be an every-down safety. He'll combine special teams duty with defensive assignments that exploit his ball-hawking ability without demanding agility he lacks.
This will still bolster a Jets secondary that needs not only starting safeties but package players as well.
SS: Bacarri Rambo
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What team wouldn't want Rambo on its side? All kidding aside, this 6'0", 211-pound safety from Georgia overcame a suspension because of a failed drug test to compile 73 tackles, three interceptions and three forced fumbles in 10 games, sufficient to earn All-SEC second-team honors.
In other words, Rambo does it all, almost. Physical receivers can block him, and his read-and-react abilities are inconsistent. Nevertheless, his ability to link quarterback to intended receiver allows him to get to the reception point quickly. He has demonstrated an ability to create turnovers before and after the catch, in addition to stopping ball-carriers and receivers from gaining significant after-catch yardage.
Rambo has the potential to add ball-hawking ability to the strong safety position, provided his read-and-react ability becomes more sophisticated.
TE: Levine Toilolo
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At 6'8" and 260 pounds, you might think Levine Toilolo would be an imposing blocker. However, this Stanford tight end's long-range and intermediate-range receiving skills are his calling card. He combines impressive vertical leaping with enough acceleration and quickness to be a threat from the slot and outside as well as the traditional tight end position.
Ironically, blocking is where Toilolo needs work. He needs to improve his hand techniques and positioning to hold his ground as a blocker.
At this point in time, Toilolo's biggest contribution to the Jets would be as a red-zone threat, where his size and leaping ability will make him difficult to defend.
QB: Matt Scott
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Will the NFL's quarterback of the future have to be a dual threat, capable of winning games with his legs as well as his arm? If so, the Jets should consider Arizona's Matt Scott, a 6'2", 213-pound quarterback who has established himself as capable of winning games in either way.
Scott's performance in the NFL Combine established his ball-carrying potential. He ran a 4.69-second 40-yard dash, a 6.69-second three-cone drill and a 3.99-second 20-yard-shuttle. In addition, his 31.0-inch vertical jump and 118.0-inch broad jump indicated additional elusive ability.
Scouts also credit Scott with a strong, accurate arm that can make all the throws. He's quick in his reads and not afraid of throwing to tight spots. Although he usually worked out of the shotgun in 2012, he's shown he can work under center. He's going to have to reduce his turnovers and learn to target secondary receivers better to succeed in the NFL.
In the final analysis, Scott's mobility might fit well in Marty Mornhinweg's West Coast scheme. If he uses David Garrard, who has been a similar dual threat, as a mentor, Scott might be able to use 2013 to refine his game so he can compete for the 2014 starting job.