Five New York Jets Targets With Most to Prove at NFL Combine

Clayton Smarslok with five NFL Draft prospects the New York Jets could target who had the most to prove at the scouting combine…

There is still quite a bit of time until the draft is here but the NFL Combine will suffice, for now. As big as the event has become, people have been prone to move prospects too high and too low based off of one workout, myself included (i.e. Orlando Brown in 2018). What this event really does is confirm some of the questions some of these prospects have on tape or make you go back to see if the tape can confirm what you see in Indianapolis. Staying with Orlando Brown, when he performed poorly in the athletic drills last year, it should not have been a surprise.

He wasn’t successful at Oklahoma because he was an athletic freak, he was successful because of his smarts, good technique and length just to name a few reasons. So when people like myself moved him down the board, the one weekend got in our heads, which you cannot do. So don’t use these next few days to move your board around like crazy, let them answer questions. Here are some potential Jets targets that have those questions that need to be answered, whether it be in the first round or the middle rounds.

HB Elijah Holyfield, Georgia

Before going any further, yes, there is a relation to the boxing great, Evander Holyfield. When going over film of the draft eligible running backs a couple weeks ago, no back rose up the rankings more than the legend’s son. Elijah is a powerful runner, running with a purpose officially standing at a strong 217 pounds, but don’t let that let you think for a second that he can’t move. No, he doesn’t have the ideal breakaway speed but he does have some wiggle in his game. He has great vision in between the tackles, hitting a hole when it opens for him. The big question for Holyfield is whether or not he can be used in the passing game.

As a pass protector, he is more than okay. He takes pride in the work he does there and is very efficient in the process. It’s what he does as a receiver that needs to be looked at in Indianapolis. Throughout his collegiate career, he has only tallied seven receptions. Granted, he hasn’t been a full-time player until 2018 but only having seven receptions in three years does raise questions. What he can show here is not if he can be a Alvin Kamara or Christian McCaffrey type as a receiver but that he won’t be a liability when called upon. Just being able to show he has soft hands and looks comfortable catching the ball is what can make evaluators happy. If Holyfield does this, he can be looking at being a potential day two pick and possibly being one of those third round picks by Mike Maccagnan.

WR N’Keal Harry, Arizona State

Harry is an intriguing prospect in draft twitter. Some people see him as arguably the best receiver in the class and others have him further down their rankings. I happen to join the latter group but the sense I’m getting is that the NFL may like him a little more than than my group of people, making him a potential first round selection in April. Don’t worry Jets fans, not at three or even in the top ten, but the team is a legitimate trade down candidate and nobody knows how far they are willing to move down to get extra picks. So while he’s an unlikely target, is a target nonetheless.

Harry does have many appealing traits to him including his frame, ability to catch the ball anywhere in his area and what he can do with the ball in his hands. He looks like he can be a top receiver at times but there are some questions to his game, that make me think otherwise. His separation and route running is part of that but that isn’t really possible to show with no defenders covering him at the event.

However, what he can show scouts (real or fake) this weekend is that he isn’t as slow as everyone believes he is. On film, it looks like it takes Harry a bit get going and at full speed it’s nothing special. It’s expected that he runs high 4.5s, maybe even 4.60. Having a faster than expected 10 yard split and overall 40 time, say 4.52, would benefit him greatly. Maybe all but securing his spot as one of the top receivers in this class.

OT Jonah Williams, Alabama

It’s no secret the Jets can use some help along the offensive line and picking third is tricky if they want to solve that issue through the draft. Since the season ended there has really only been one name in the positional group connected to the Jets and that just so happens to be Jonah Williams. The former Alabama left tackle has three seasons worth of experience in the best conference in the nation, while playing at a very high level along the way.

Throughout the 2018 season, Williams was widely regarded as the best offensive lineman in the draft even though his position at the next level was uncertain. The difference between Williams and the others on this list is that there is absolutely nothing he can do to help himself, it all depends on what the measurements say. From yesterday’s official weigh-ins, it seems like a win for Williams as his arm length measured at 33 ⅝ inches. You would love to see at least 34 inches but considering many didn’t expect to even see 33, it’s hard to complain.

With the arm length no longer a huge concern, it has turned to his weight, coming in at 302 pounds. Teams will likely want to get that number up but for comparison, one of the best offensive tackles in the game, David Bakhtiari, had slightly longer arms and weighed three pounds lighter. With that being said, Williams should not be discarded of playing the tackle position because of his size, the tape shows what he can do. That alone should still make him a Jets target, if they trade down to the latter half of the top ten.

 

EDGE Brian Burns, Florida State

From the early stages of the 2018 season myself and Greg Armstrong have had an enormous draft crush on Brian Burns. He was dominant on the field for the last two seasons, putting up despite playing on a terrible Florida State team. He has outstanding length, great first step, elite bend, a relentless motor and a bevy of pass rush moves. He has experience playing in both a two and three point stance making him a fit in whatever defensive front Gregg decides to run this year or in the future.

This case is somewhat similar to Jonah Williams but instead of his length being an issue, it’s his weight. According to Florida State, he was playing at 235 but that might probably means he was closer to 230. If he can get to around 245, stay at that weight, while still showing the athleticism and flexibility he had in college, there is no reason he shouldn’t seriously be in consideration for a top five selection.

There is no denying that the Jets obviously need a player to get to the quarterback from the outside. While you won’t see his name with Nick Bosa and Josh Allen at the top of many mock drafts, he should be garnering more attention with a favorable weigh-in and athletic testing this weekend in Indy.

CB Joejuan Williams, Vanderbilt

Joejuan Williams not only has an unusual name but also a name that hasn’t gotten a lot of buzz. In fact, I haven’t even heard about him until Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller and Connor Rogers had him on their podcast, Stick to Football. While initially waiting to give him a look, Williams flashed when watching the Ole Miss receivers. He looked great in press, better in bump and run, has excellent ball skills and of course tremendous length at the position being listed between 6’2 and 6’3.

The concerns with Williams are what you would expect out of a lengthy cornerback, his athleticism. When watching him go against Ole Miss he did a great job when in man, as long as it was on a vertical plane, as well as in zone. The fluidity in his hips aren’t stiff per se but they aren’t loose either. It’s important that he shows the ability to quickly flip his hips and show adequate lateral movement. With all of the cone drills and DB drills, he’ll have plenty of opportunities to show what he has.

Purely based off what is on film, Williams looks like he could be a second or third round pick with his size and potential. With the Jets having two third round picks, Williams could definitely be someone they’re targeting. With a good showing they may need to make a move up for him but if it’s an unimpressive Combine for Williams, he could potentially fall right into their laps when their second third round pick or fourth rounder comes around.