Building an analytically-minded New York Jets mock draft
If you have read any of my articles before or follow me on Twitter, you know I’m a stats and analytics guy first and foremost when it comes to evaluating football players. I love watching film, too, and I always make sure to blend both film and stats in my player evaluations, but numbers are my bread and butter.
With that in mind, I want to shake up the New York Jets mock draft landscape a bit.
I will be running a series of three-round Jets mock drafts throughout this offseason with a different twist: Each pick will primarily be based around the mentality of taking the best player available from a statistical perspective.
Of course, I will still take team needs and previous picks into account – I’m not going to draft any quarterbacks or select four wide receivers in a row – but the main goal is to select players based on their statistical resume more so than anything else.
Let’s dive into my first analytics-based Jets mock draft of the 2022 offseason. You can play along with the Jet X Offseason Simulator.
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Round 1, Pick 4: George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue
There are a lot of strong candidates for this pick, each boasting tantalizing numbers, but I’m going to roll with Purdue edge rusher George Karlaftis for our first mock.
Karlaftis boasts the elite pass-rushing efficiency you want out of a highly-drafted edge rusher – and he maintained that efficiency over a large volume.
Karlaftis played 335 pass-rush snaps in 2021, which ranked 26th among Power-5 edge rushers. Only 51 Power-5 edge rushers played at least 300 pass-rush snaps.
Out of that 51-player group, Karlaftis had the second-best pass-rush win rate at 23.6%, according to Pro Football Focus. Only Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson (24.8%) – a projected top-two pick in this year’s draft – ranked higher out of that high-volume/strong-competition bunch.
Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux, who joins Hutchinson in the conversation for the No. 1 pick, ranked just behind Karlaftis with a 23.1% pass-rush win rate.
Round 1, Pick 10: Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia
This is a little high for Nakobe Dean in comparison to where he is generally going off the board in most mock drafts around the world. He usually goes in the teens or early twenties.
We take Dean up here because his stats paint him in a more impressive light than his consensus mock draft ranking.
Coverage skills are essential for linebackers in the Jets’ defense, and Dean thrives in that area.
Among the 135 Power-5 linebackers to face at least 20 targets in 2021, Dean allowed the second-fewest yards per reception (5.8) and lowest passer rating (41.7).
The most impressive aspect of Dean’s coverage ability is how well he kept everything in front of him. Dean rarely allowed passes to sail over his head.
On the year, Dean allowed 122 yards in total. Of those, 146 yards came after the catch and negative-24 yards came through the air.
Round 2, Pick 35: Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington
Trent McDuffie allowed only 111 yards on 36 targets in his direction during the 2021 season. His average of 3.1 yards allowed per target was the best among the 239 Power-5 cornerbacks who faced at least 20 targets.
Although Washington’s defense heavily leaned toward zone coverage, McDuffie locked up in both styles of coverage, giving up 2.7 yards per target in man-to-man situations and 3.2 yards per target when playing zone coverage.
Round 2, Pick 38: Trey McBride, TE, Colorado St.
Trey McBride led all FBS tight ends with 91 receptions and 1,125 receiving yards over 12 games in 2021. He was the only tight end to go over 1,000 yards.
While big fantasy numbers are nice, you need quality efficiency to validate it, and McBride has just that.
McBride ranked fourth among FBS tight ends with 2.78 yards per route run – and he ran a route on at least 100 more snaps than each of the three players ranked above him. That’s the definition of how you blend volume and efficiency.
Showcasing McBride’s strong hands are his 3.2% drop rate (3 drops vs. 91 catches) and 53.1% contested-catch rate (17 contested catches on 32 contested targets).
McBride lined up in-line on 69.3% of his passing-game snaps in 2021, so he is fit to play in a Jets offense that needs tight ends who can survive in the trenches.
The cherry on top of McBride’s incredible production resume is his pass blocking. McBride allowed only two pressures over 188 career pass-blocking snaps, a 1.1% rate. He gave up zero pressures across 34 pass-blocking snaps from 2020-21.
Round 3, Pick 69: Skyy Moore, WR, Western Michigan
Catching 94 passes for 1,291 yards and 10 touchdowns over 12 games, Skyy Moore was one of the most productive wide receivers in college football this year. That’s not just from a volume perspective, but from an efficiency perspective as well.
Moore averaged 3.40 yards per route run, which ranked eighth-best out of 361 qualified FBS wide receivers.
The best traits offered by the Western Michigan product are his hands and elusiveness. Moore had only four drops in 2021 (4.1% drop rate) and tied for the FBS lead among wide receivers with 26 missed tackles forced after the catch.
Here’s a look at our three-round haul:
- R1, P4: George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue
- R1, P10: Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia
- R2, P35: Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington
- R2, P38: Trey McBride, TE, Colorado St.
- R3, P69: Skyy Moore, WR, Western Michigan
Next Article: Why the New York Jets will not draft Derek Stingley Jr.
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