Keep an eye on these future New York Jets targets during the CFP
The 2022 College Football Playoff is set to begin with two semi-final games on New Year’s Eve, with second-ranked Michigan taking on third-ranked TCU in the Fiesta Bowl at 4 p.m. Eastern, followed by fourth-ranked Ohio State clashing with top-ranked Georgia in the Peach Bowl at 8 p.m. Eastern.
The college game’s biggest stage is always an excellent place to find future NFL hopefuls. League scouts and general managers from multiple clubs are sure to attend.
For the Jets fans tuning in to the games before their New Year’s Eve festivities kick into high gear, Jets X-Factor has you covered with a watchlist of all the best prospects from the four finalists that New York’s brain trust might very well look to add come the end of April.
These are the top draft prospects for the Jets in the 2022 College Football Playoff.
Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State
Buckeyes left tackle Paris Johnson Jr. is widely viewed as one of the 2023 draft’s best offensive tackle prospects, and with good reason.
Listed at 6-foot-6 and 310 pounds, Johnson Jr. packs just as much power as you would expect given his frame, but it’s his quickness and fluidity at that size that makes him stand out above his peers.
Johnson Jr. is an effortless mover who rapidly fires out of his stance and into his kick-slide, mirroring pass rushers around the edge with ease.
On top of his athleticism, Johnson Jr. is always aware of his assignment, and more importantly, the defense’s plan of attack, making stunts and twists virtually worthless against him.
A strong run blocker and sound pass blocker, Johnson Jr. is an extremely well-rounded tackle prospect who should hear his name called in the first round.
Impressively, Johnson Jr. only has a single year of starting experience at offensive tackle after spending his previous two seasons in Columbus playing right guard.
The Jets have valued versatile linemen in the past, and with a glaring need for offensive line help, Johnson Jr. is a likely target for New York.
If Paris Johnson Jr. is available for the taking, the Jets should sprint the card to the podium.
Olusegun Oluwatimi, C, Michigan
Despite playing for a highly-ranked blue-blood program, Michigan center Olusegun Oluwatimi hasn’t seen much spotlight amongst the NFL Draft community.
That absolutely needs to change.
Oluwatimi is a brick wall in the middle of the Wolverines’ line, constantly moving defenders off the line of scrimmage and opening running lanes for UM’s talented backfield.
The 6-foot-3, 307-pound Senior swept the college awards scene in 2022, winning the Rimington Award, given to the nation’s top center, and the Outland Trophy, given to the nation’s top interior lineman, as well as being voted a unanimous First-Team All-American.
For as powerful as he is, Oluwatimi does a more-than-serviceable job on the move, getting out of his stance quickly and taking a direct path to his target.
And when he does get to that target, they are no longer a factor in the play.
Unlike Paris Johnson Jr., Oluwatimi is plenty experienced, playing for three years and making 32 straight starts at center for the University of Virginia before graduate-transferring to Michigan for the 2022 season.
The Jets’ current starting center, Connor McGovern, is set to be a free agent after this season, and if New York chooses to let him walk, they will be in the market for a new starter.
New York’s line has been desperate for some nastiness up front ever since star guard Alijah Vera-Tucker was lost to injury. Olusegun Oluwatimi could be just what they need to bring that nastiness back.
Get Started: Learn More About Becoming A Jet X Member
Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia
Surprise, surprise, there’s another offensive line prospect next up on the list.
With so much uncertainty surrounding the Jets’ future plans at offensive tackle, edge protectors are at the top of the needs list heading into 2023.
If Paris Johnson Jr. comes off the board too soon for the Jets to get their hands on him, Georgia’s Broderick Jones would make a great consolation prize.
A former Five-Star recruit, Jones started his first full season for the Bulldogs in 2022 and lived up to the hype.
Listed at 6-foot-4 and 310 pounds, Jones has a thick, compact frame that allows him to stonewall pass rushers who try to run through him, as well as move them out of their gaps in the run game.
Jones’s best trait is his explosiveness, making him a prime candidate for the Jets’ wide zone rushing attack. He’s comfortable in space and gets up on defenders in a hurry, usually ending with violence.
Jones can get caught lunging every so often, leaving him unbalanced and susceptible to shed attempts from defenders, but his athleticism is too good to ignore.
With some proper coaching and an emphasis on staying controlled and not too aggressive, Jones could be the blindside protector the Jets have been looking for ever since D’Brickashaw Ferguson retired.
Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU
TCU’s Quentin Johnston isn’t a common name associated with the Jets in the early landscape of the 2023 draft, but the connection makes more sense than most might think.
Wide receiver Corey Davis is a possible cap casualty at the end of the year since his three-year contract has a potential out for the Jets after 2022.
New York would save $10.5 million by cutting Davis, and as it currently stands, they are only projected to have $15.9 million in cap space for 2023.
While the savings are enticing, Davis’s role in the offense can’t be understated, and the Jets would need to find someone who can replicate his skillset if they were to let him go.
Davis runs all the “big-boy routes”, as head coach Robert Saleh likes to say, for the Jets’ offense. Slants, comebacks, digs, anything that requires a receiver to be able to make contested catches.
Without Davis in the lineup, the only other receiver currently on the team who can fill that role is Denzel Mims. Considering Mims’s trade request before the season, and his lack of production for a former second-round pick, the Jets could look to fill Davis’s spot by dipping into the first-round receiver well for the second-straight year.
Jets fans, say hello to Quentin Johnston.
At 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, Johnston is a big-bodied pass-catcher who excels at attacking the football in the air. He combines his large frame with an impressive leaping ability and timing to snatch the ball at its highest point and secure it through contact.
Johnston has increased his total catches and yardage output every year since his freshman season, racking up 53 catches for 903 yards and five touchdowns so far in 2022.
The Horned Frogs use Johnston in a similar fashion to how the Jets use Davis, which should help his transition to the pros. Johnston would have the freedom to learn on the job while finding comfortability in the same “big-boy routes” he thrived on in Fort Worth.
Adding Quentin Johnston to be the Robin to Garrett Wilson’s Batman just might be too tantalizing for the Jets to pass up if they let Davis walk.
Tommy Eichenberg, LB, Ohio State
Two of the Jets’ main linebackers, Quincy Williams and Kwon Alexander, are set to be free agents after this year. If one, or both of them, aren’t brought back, Ohio State’s Tommy Eichenberg is a great option to help fill the void.
Standing 6-foot-2 and 239 pounds, Eichenberg fits New York’s linebacker prototype as a rangy athlete who flies to the ball all over the field. He’s extremely smart and diagnoses plays quickly after the snap, or better yet, before they even happen.
The senior from Cleveland has notched 112 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, two-and-a-half sacks, three pass deflections, and a pick-six in 12 games manning the middle of the Buckeyes’ defense in 2022.
His quick feet and quicker processor allow him to cover a ton of ground, chasing ball-carriers sideline to sideline with ease. Eichenberg also uses that same quickness combo as a zone defender, reading the eyes of quarterbacks and driving on receivers with ferocity.
The Jets have a type at linebacker: fast, aggressive, and intelligent. If a spot opens up on the depth chart after free agency, Tommy Eichenberg is just the type of player New York will covet.
The 2023 NFL Draft might feel like it’s a ways away, but as is the case every year, it’ll be here before we all know it. Only a few contests remain between both major football organizations, and it won’t be long until YouTube highlights and blind hope are the only things we will have to keep us all going until the Fall.
In the meantime, as we relish the last few weeks of our favorite sport, enjoy the College Football Playoff, cherish the final two games of the regular season, and most of all, have a Happy New Year.