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This off-season is like nonother for New York Jets fans. We typically get excited about the draft, only to be disappointed when the season starts. We have not made the playoff for 12 years! This up-and-coming season is when that ends. With the addition of Aaron Rodgers on the horizon and veterans like Odell Beckham Jr in the potential fold, it feels as if this is not just any other Jets off-season. With the NFL draft only weeks away we will like to provide Jets fans with Jet Cast’s first New York Jets Mock Draft.
Round 1 (Pick 13): Nolan Smith
(Edge Rusher, Georgia) Senior 6’2” 238 lbs.
Smith, A former 5-star recruit coming out of high school in 2019, was not only the #1 edge rushing prospect in his class, but he was also the #1 overall prospect period (According to 247Sports Composite Rankings). I am well aware that Jets fans think that the Jets are all but guaranteed to draft an offensive lineman with this pick, but I am not so sure of that. There is a real possibility that the top two offensive linemen in Peter Skoronski and Paris Johnson Jr. will be off the board by the time the Jets select.
“Pass-Rushers don’t Grow on Trees”
Joe Douglas is not the general manager to reach for any player, so in that scenario that brings us to the best play available and that is Nolan Smith. At a recent press conference, Robert Saleh said “Pass rushers don’t grow on trees.” We all know the success of the Jets 4-3 defense begins with a dominant front four. Adding Smith to the already vaunted defensive line rotation would give Robert Saleh just another toy in his toy chest.
- Elite 4.39 speed (1-100th of s second slower than Garrett Wilson)
- Displays great fundamentals when driving through a tackle
- Has elite agility when identifying the run/pass and gaps
- Improved his hand placement from year to year
- Senior year 7 tackles for loss 3 sacks in 8 games.
- Great arm extension at the point of attack
- Plays stronger than his 238-pound frame
- Already has elite pass-rushing moves
- Elite ability to time up snap counts
- Explosive off the snap
- He was arrested for driving with a suspended license and speeding through a construction zone in January 2022.
- Missed final 7 games of 2022 season with a torn pectoral muscle
- Scouts believe he needs to add 5-10 pounds to his frame
- Needs to improve block shedding ability against the run
- Needs to continue to develop hand placement
- Due to lack of size, he has a subpar bullrush
- Struggles dropping back into coverage.
Smith missed one game in 2021 with an elbow injury, then missed the final 7 games in 2022 with a torn pectoral muscle, which required season-ending surgery. He still started 23 games in his career and was a 2022 second-team All-American as well as a two-time Co-Defensive Player of the Week in 2021. Smith has elite speed and burst, which makes him very desirable to any NFL general manager
Pro Comparison: Melvin Ingram
Round 2 (Pick 42): Brian Branch
(Defensive Back, Alabama) Junior 6’0” 190 lbs.
Branch, a former 4-Star recruit coming out of High school, ran a 4.58 40 at the NFL combine. Most scouts are calling him the most complete Safety in college and project Branch to be a nickel corner at the next level. He is known for being a highly instinctual player and has the ability to cover tight ends with his size.
- Possesses elite instincts that will allow him to play as a single high safety at the next level.
- Great in man-to-man coverage and is projected to be able to cover NFL tight ends
- Good ability to highpoint balls in the air
- He is a willing physical tackler.
- Plays with soft hands
- Good blitzer
- Tweener, his size and body type is not typical of a corner or a safety.
- Is not a blazer as he ran a 4.58 40-yard dark at the NFL combine
- Only 6’0” the taller tight ends might give him issues
- Needs to add 10-15 pounds at the NFL level
Branch had 90 total tackles, 3 sacks, 2 interceptions, and 7 pass breakups in 2022. He projects to be a high-end free safety at the NFL level, that can also play nickel corner. Not a blazer but has elite instincts and can play as a single high safety. displays solid eye discipline. Branch projects to an above-average starting free safety at the next level.
Pro comparison: Minkah Fitzpatrick.
Round : (Pick 43 – Traded for Aaron Rodgers)
(Pick 112 & 143) To Cleveland (Value Given 110.5)
(Pick 98 & 229) To Jets (Value Given 104.5)
Round 3 (Pick 98): Wanya Morris
(Offensive Tackle, Oklahoma) Senior 6’5” 307 lbs.
Morris was named to the 2019 SEC all-freshmen team. A former 5-star recruit has longer than average 35 1/8” arms (NFL average 34”). He finished his senior season on the second-team All-Big 12 list in 2022.
- Can play both LT & RT
- Great Hand Strength
- Length is on his side
- Strong Run blocker
- Explosive punch
- Thick lower half
- Super Athletic
- Quick hands
- Struggles to sustain blocks for a period of time in the run gain
- Has been beaten by the bull rush
- Struggles with high pad level
- Lacks upper body strengths
- Can be streaky
Morris is a very strong run blocker. He needs to improve on sustaining blocks after initial contact. Due to his size, he naturally plays big and needs to learn to level out his pad level. He can play both tackle positions if needed. Scouts want him to be more consistent in winning one on one battles. He is considered a developmental offensive tackle. His film showed much improvement in his 2022 season. He would fill in with the Jets as a backup swing tackle in his rookie season and has the potential to be a starting tackle in the NFL as soon as 2024.
Pro Compassion: Kaleb McGary
Round 7 (Pick 207): Mohamed Ibrahim
(Running Back, Minnesota) Senior 5’10” tall 203 lbs.
Ibrahim burst onto the scene as a red-shirt freshman and rushed for 1,160 yards and 9 touchdowns. That was the second-most rushing yards in school history. Ibrahim was named MVP of the 2018 Quick Lane Bowl. In that game he rushed for 224 and two touchdowns. As a Junior, he was also named first-team All-Big 10 and third-team All-American by the Associated Press.
- 37 Rushing Touchdowns in 20 games
- Great vision in short-yard situations
- One cut running back
- Explosive finisher
- Average burst makes him useful in the short-down situations only
- Only played 1 game in 2021 after tearing his Achilles
- Was not used as a receiving back and lacks soft hands
- Lacks long speed
Ibrahim is a short-down specialist with the ability to find the hole and punish tacklers. He should add approximately 5 -10 pounds and be great in short-yardage situations in the NFL. He brings an element that the Jets lack in the running back room. Also, with Breece Hall presumably out early in the season, Ibrahim could provide much-needed depth and might be a development/practice squad candidate for the 2023 New York Jets.
Pro Comparison: Matt Breida
Round 7 (Pick 229): Jarad Clark
(Defensive Tackle, Coastal Carolina) Senior 6’4” tall 334 lbs.
Clark was named team captain his senior year. He was named to the 2022 All-Sun Belt Third Team and was also named to the 2022 East-West Shrine Bowl 1000 Preseason list.
- Could be more disruptive at a lower weight.
- Former high school tight end
- Third Team All Sun Belt as senior
- Gets off the ball with force
- 41 tackles, 10 for loss
- Massive Frame
- Team Captain
- Run stuffer
- Lacks frame to put on more muscle
- Below-average knee bend
- No pass rush moves
- Lower body is thin
Clark is a project defensive tackle. He would be utilized in short-distance situations. Moreover, scouts project Clark to be a serviceable talent if he could lose 10-15 pounds up top and strengthen his legs to become a real run stuffer. Clark projects as a 3-4 nose tackle. He would mostly be utilized in only short-yardage situations. When the Jets lost Folorunso Fatukasi a season ago, they never replaced his big body and the Jets suffered last year on the defensive line because of it. Clark may never turn into a dominant defensive force, but could potentially contribute right away.
Pro Comparison: Davon Godchaux