Sam Crnic discusses his initial notes on some of the top edge, tight end, and center prospects in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Ideally, the New York Jets would enter each and every season with zero holes or concerns in each position. The front office has an ample amount of time and opportunity to be able to address any dilemma from the previous year, whether that be through free agency, the draft, or the trade market.
But we don’t live in an ideal world.
With minicamp underway, the Jets still have concerns on each side of the ball, including a second 3-down edge threat, athleticism at the tight end position, and the future of the center position.
At center, Connor McGovern hasn’t proven himself quite yet after a mediocre first year as a Jet and needs to take a step up in a brand new offensive system.
Chris Herndon and Tyler Kroft lead a TE group due to receive a lot of work in the pass and run game. Despite both being relatively reliable blockers, Kroft was seldom used in the pass game by the Buffalo Bills last year while Herndon’s play has been on a downward spiral since his exceptional rookie season.
Despite adding Carl Lawson, the Jets are still one edge rusher away from becoming a top unit in the NFL. Joe Douglas needs to find another 3-down edge who can specialize in run defense while also being a threat on passing downs.
I spent the past two weeks watching nine different players in the 2022 draft class: three edge rushers, three centers, and three TEs. Watching two games of each player via their 2020 All-22 film, I will be discussing my initial impressions of their play as scouts would for NFL teams at the beginning of each draft cycle.
On that note, let’s start with the EDGE group.
Right off the bat, let’s dive into two Ohio State edge rushers who appear to be a couple of the best edge rushers in the entire country. In addition, I went back to Cincinnati’s 2020 film to watch a guy who many thought was entering the 2021 NFL Draft.
Tyreke Smith | Ohio State
Games Watched: vs. Clemson, Northwestern
Tyreke Smith was the most talented edge prospect I watched on film and it wasn’t close. The only problem was his availability over the course of the 2020 season. After battling nagging injuries throughout the shortened season, a positive COVID-19 test result took Tyreke out of the National Championship game against Alabama.
This didn’t take away from his stellar performance against Clemson in the Sugar Bowl, though.
Right away when watching Smith, you see an extremely twitched-up athlete with an insane get-off following the snap. He can bend, flatten, and move like a prototypical NFL-level speed edge rusher. In addition, one quickly takes note of how he uses length to his advantage in the power-rushing game, bull-rushing and long-arming guys consistently as he played with good leverage.
While he’s only 267 pounds at a 6-foot-4 frame, he will only add more weight heading into his senior year. The OSU edge would most commonly found at the 5-tech, but I did see a couple of reps inside (4i-tech). He was able to work out of a 2-point, 3-point, and 4-point stance. Smith is an instinctive rusher who doesn’t get fooled much, and can even spot-drop in coverage if asked to do so.
His toolbox of pass rush moves paired with freakish athleticism is what impresses me the most. Pair that with his exceptionally high motor, and you get a player who’s almost always around the ball carrier.
I have two main concerns about his game. One, I just want to see the guy be able to consistently stay on the field. If he can, he can become OSU’s next superstar edge and a top pick in the draft.
Two, while I see him in a 4-3 alignment, his run fits weren’t very impressive. At times, he was bullied around by oversized offensive lineman which led to sizable gaps. Improvement in this area comes with the continuation of adding weight to his frame, along with hand placement and knowing how to gain leverage on larger opponents.
I really like Tyreke and there’s a high chance he ends up as my second-best edge in this draft class based on his phenomenal combination of athleticism and technique as a pass rusher.