New York, NY (CBS New York)- A 1-7 start to the season is not exactly what New York Jets fans had imagined coming into the year. Adding Le’Veon Bell and C.J. Mosley, along with a high draft pick in Quinnen Williams, had most believing this team could compete for a playoff spot in the AFC.
That has not been the case. Now, most of the issues have been injury related, with Mosley missing much of the year so far due to a groin injury and quarterback Sam Darnold being out for four weeks due to mononucleosis. But, injuries aside, there are major holes to fill on this team. According to Tankathon, a website that monitors draft order for every sports league throughout the season, the Jets currently would have the third pick behind the Bengals and Redskins. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the top prospects likely to be available for the Jets come next April, so fans can familiarize themselves with these players during the final few weeks of college football season.
Chase Young, DE, Ohio State
Okay, granted, drafting another defensive lineman after using first-round picks on them in multiple recent drafts isn’t exciting. But this one here should be. You have likely heard Young’s name at this point if you’re friends with a college football fan. The Buckeyes junior has terrorized opposing quarterbacks all season, leading the country in total sacks at 13.5. At 6’5″ and weighing 265 pounds, Young displays the power and speed to impact a game at any point. In case you need a visual, just take a look at what he did to the Wisconsin tackles.
— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) October 27, 2019
That’s against Wisconsin, who generally produces some pretty good offensive linemen each year. Young made them look foolish, picking up four sacks and forcing two fumbles in Ohio State’s 38-7 win. For a Jets team that currently ranks near the bottom of the league in sacks, Young would go a long way towards helping that issue. Young is the third overall prospect on CBSSports.com’s draft board currently.
CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma
The Sooners junior has been the primary target throughout the season for quarterback Jalen Hurts and has bailed him out quite a few times with circus catches. Listed at 6’2″ and 195 pounds, Lamb has been timed in the 4.3 to 4.4 range in the 40 and has shown off that game-breaking speed at the college level, averaging 22.7 yards per catch this season. But it’s what he can do after the catch that makes him special. Lamb’s elusiveness has made him a difficult tackle, routinely making defensive players look silly.
CeeDee Lamb is at it again. pic.twitter.com/lf7NZI3Bk9
— Bruce Matson (@MetricScout) October 26, 2019
Jalen Hurts found CeeDee Lamb for three touchdowns in a Red River Showdown win.
This flea-flicker was one of them ?
— ESPN (@espn) October 12, 2019
Those two plays are emblematic of what Lamb has been capable of after the catch. Taking a receiver high in the draft is always a difficult choice, so Lamb may be an option after a trade-down scenario. But, considering Darnold’s current options, adding a game-breaker like Lamb could only help.
Jerry Jeudy, Alabama
Jeudy is one of four Alabama wide receivers that will be drafted in the next two drafts. He also may be the most talented of the bunch, which is saying something. A junior, listed at 6’1″ 192 pounds, Jeudy has timed in the 4.4’s in the 40, showing similar speed to Lamb. His route-running is fun to watch; he shows the ability to stop on a dime and send corners backpedaling for several yards.
Jerry Jeudy runs the most entertaining hitches/slants… I can watch him run quick game routes all day pic.twitter.com/5H1uy4EpHL
— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) October 23, 2019
Similarly to Lamb, Jeudy is a get-the-ball-in-his-hands-and-watch-what-he-does-after-the-catch type of guy. While averaging “just” 13.1 yards per catch this season, he leads the Tide in receptions with 52, one year after leading the team with 68 catches.
Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
Thomas is a 6’5″, 320 pound tackle who has played an integral part in the Georgia running game that has mauled opponents all season. The Bulldogs rushing attack is averaging over 220 yards per game on 5.37 yards per carry. Thomas’s power in the run game is clearly evident, and the Jets rushing attack has been… not great this season.
Lift off courtesy UGA tackle Andrew Thomas 71 red pic.twitter.com/l9zjmWeYIv
— Cole Cubelic (@colecubelic) September 22, 2019
Combine that run blocking power with Thomas’ skill as a pass protector, and you could have a cornerstone of the offensive line to protect Sam’s blindside for years to come.
Corner, while not thought of as one of the more important positions on the roster, is an impact position. Jets fans have to look no further than their division rivals, the New England Patriots, to see what a strong secondary can do for the rest of a defensive unit. One main building block is there for New York with safety Jamal Adams in the fold. But, the corner situation is…a bit of a mess. Trumaine Johnson hasn’t exactly lived up to the large contract he signed in free agency and the rest of the group is later round picks.
Jeffrey Okudah, CB, Ohio State
Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama
Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford
None of those three guys are likely Top 5 picks so if the Jets were to go corner with their top pick it would most likely be after a trade. That said, Okudah is probably the biggest riser of the group as the junior has stepped up in his second season as a starter, with three interceptions, three passes defensed and 21 tackles already this season. The interceptions are the first three of his Buckeyes career and the 21 tackles are just 11 fewer than he had in 13 games last season.
Diggs is the lone senior of this group and he’ll have a big showcase game this Saturday when the Tide face LSU. If he is able to slow some of the Tigers premiere pass catching option, it will go a long way towards his draft status next year.
Adebo has been constantly around the ball this year with four picks and 10 passes defensed to go with 28 tackles in the Cardinal’s eight games so far this year.
Any of the three would be a nice upgrade to a secondary currently allowing opposing passers to complete 64 percent of their attempts for an average of 263 yards per game this season.