Some of the New York Jets’ top draft targets have concerning statistics relative to their hype
Analyzing college production cannot tell us everything about an NFL draft prospect’s professional future, but it’s still a valuable piece of the puzzle to take into account.
I don’t think college production can tell us much about a prospect’s future if the prospect was a dominant college player, simply because the majority of NFL draft prospects were stars in college. Boasting otherworldly college stats doesn’t make a prospect unique.
What does make a prospect unique is when he wasn’t dominant in college. This is where I think college stats can be an interesting factor. If a prospect wasn’t able to dominate his college-level opponents, it’s certainly a concern worth noting as we project how he will perform against the substantially stronger competition offered by the NFL. It could be a sign the player will take longer to develop than prospects who have already shown they can translate their traits into star-level production.
With this in mind, here are a few oft-discussed NFL draft targets for the New York Jets whose college production does not match up with their hype.
John Michael Schmitz, C, Minnesota
Minnesota’s John Michael Schmitz is the consensus No. 1 center prospect on draft boards across the internet. He is widely considered a high-second-round prospect (right in the Jets’ wheelhouse at Nos. 42 and 43) and some mock drafts even have him creeping into the first round.
Schmitz’s hype is not backed up by his college production. He was not one of the most dominant centers in college football last season, at least based on his numbers.
In 2022, Schmitz allowed eight pressures on 305 pass-blocking snaps, per Pro Football Focus. That might seem good at first glance, but relative to other college centers, it actually wasn’t. Schmitz’s allowed pressure rate of 2.65% only ranked 61st-lowest out of 136 qualified FBS centers (56th percentile). That’s hardly better than the national average of 3.17% for centers.
Some of the other top center prospects in the 2023 draft were much more efficient pass-blockers than Schmitz this past season:
- Joe Tippman, Wisconsin: 1.39% allowed pressure rate, 11th of 136
- Luke Wypler, Ohio State: 1.78% allowed pressure rate, 19th
- Olusegun Oluwatimi, Michigan: 2.20% allowed pressure rate, 38th
Schmitz offers a much stronger track record in the run game, as he was PFF’s top-ranked run-blocking center among all college centers in 2022. However, his less-than-stellar pass-blocking efficiency is worth keeping in mind.
It also should be noted that Schmitz’s athletic profile isn’t special. His Relative Athletic Score (RAS) is 7.89 out of 10, which only ranked seventh-best among centers in this year’s class.
While RAS is a 0-to-10 system, many people don’t realize that the average RAS for NFL-worthy prospects is typically around 8.00. This is because the RAS database includes pro-day data from thousands of no-name prospects who never touch an NFL field, and these players severely decrease the positional averages to the point where a 5.00 RAS is far below the true average for real NFL players.
As an example, the RAS database includes 305 wide receivers in this year’s class alone, many of them coming from FCS, Division II, or Division III schools. Most of those 305 players will never sign with an NFL team, yet they are included in the RAS system and make up a large chunk of the data set that determines the averages we are using to evaluate the top NFL prospects.
The majority of the players who actually get drafted are in the upper echelon of the RAS system. For instance, in 2022, the top 200 prospects going into the draft (based on Mock Draft Database’s consensus big board) had an average RAS of 7.90. The top 50 prospects averaged an 8.91. Considering those numbers, Schmitz’s 7.89 RAS is quite mediocre for a projected top-50 pick.
Schmitz’s pedestrian score mostly stems from his 5.35-second time in the forty (25th percentile all-time among centers at the combine) and his 26 reps in the bench press (51st percentile). Schmitz performed respectably in the 20-yard shuttle (68th percentile), vertical jump (68th percentile), and broad jump (62nd percentile) but did not surpass the 68th percentile in any drill, which is underwhelming since he is an undersized center (301-pound frame ranked at the 38th percentile) and should be expected to balance out his smaller frame with top-tier athleticism.
Overall, Schmitz’s uninspiring analytical profile (outside of his fantastic run-blocking) is a minor red flag that shouldn’t be completely ignored.
Related Article: Which NFL draft center prospect is the best fit for NY Jets’ scheme?
Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State
Similar to Schmitz, Paris Johnson Jr.’s consistency in pass protection was not quite as pristine as some of his peers in the 2023 draft class.
Johnson allowed 14 pressures on 449 pass-blocking snaps in 2022, giving him an allowed pressure rate of 3.12%. That ranked 43rd-lowest out of 228 qualified FBS tackles, which is strong (81st percentile), but it pales in comparison to some of the other top tackle prospects. Take a look at how Johnson compares to the other five prospects who are most commonly included among the top-six tackles:
- Dawand Jones, Ohio State: 1.19% allowed pressure rate, 1st of 228
- Peter Skoronski, Northwestern: 1.27% allowed pressure rate, 2nd
- Darnell Wright, Tennessee: 1.58% allowed pressure rate, 5th
- Broderick Jones, Georgia: 1.91% allowed pressure rate, 8th
- Anton Harrison, Oklahoma: 2.01% allowed pressure rate, 10th
- Paris Johnson Jr., Ohio State: 3.12% allowed pressure rate, 43rd
Johnson offered great production in other areas. He was PFF’s 10th-ranked run-blocking tackle and showed great discipline as he was called for only one penalty.
Still, it’s at least mildly concerning that Johnson’s pass-blocking production was not quite as dominant as the other tackles who will likely be drafted within the first two rounds next week. By no means does this preclude him from being a potentially excellent pick for the Jets at No. 13, but it’s interesting to note.
Drew Sanders, LB, Arkansas
Arkansas linebacker Drew Sanders is commonly mocked to the Jets in the second round. He is the 39th-ranked overall prospect on Mock Draft Database’s consensus big board.
Sanders has some very concerning red flags on his statistical resume. For starters, he is a missed tackle machine. In 2022, Sanders tied for the ninth-most missed tackles among FBS linebackers with 22, while his missed tackle rate of 19.6% ranked 217th out of 243 qualifiers (11th percentile).
Sanders also has a spotty track record in zone coverage, which is a crucial skill for linebackers in the Jets’ scheme. He allowed a 109.4 passer rating on throws into his coverage when playing zone, which ranked 188th out of 243 qualifiers (23rd percentile). Sanders was targeted 19 times in zone coverage and allowed 16 catches for 195 yards.
The reason Sanders is such a highly regarded prospect is his pass rushing ability. Sanders had 9.5 sacks and ranked fourth in the country among off-ball linebackers with 39 total pressures.
But the Jets don’t need pass rushing skills from the linebacker position. They rarely ask their linebackers to blitz. In 2022, the Jets’ linebackers combined for only 5.1 pass-rush snaps per game, ranking 29th out of 32 linebacker units.
Sanders’ pass rushing skills would be rendered mostly obsolete in New York, while his issues as a tackler and in zone coverage would be magnified.
Unless a trade brings us a good LT my choices in what is expected to be 2 picks in the first two rounds would be Skorinski and Wypler.
Until a couple weeks ago I was heavy in Scmidtz.
If we can pick up a LT via trade I would love to trade up a few and take Noxon Smith-Njigba.
Can picture Njigba and Wilson on the outside for the next decade
I do not mind Wypler, though I am more intrigued by Tippman.
However, if the Jets draft Skoronski, then I would prefer they move Vera-Tucker to RT, and let Peter slide into right guard his rookie year.
They are both similar in a sense, but I trust Vera-Tucker outside due to being an established NFL lineman.
I also think Smith-Njigba is a player that the Jet’s should consider if available, as he would be a match-up issue for a CB2 or slot corner with Wilson going against a CB1.
If it is an offensive league, then it would make sense to provide Aaron with the best weapons you can get.
It will sure help the line if Aaron has open options/targets to get rid of the ball fast, and avoid taking sacks.
Just throwing in my two cents.
Enjoy your day!
I could not agree with you more. I do not like any of these players you highlighted.
In reality, I do not like the tackle class in general, and I am not sure any linebacker could make any contribution, other then in pass coverage at best, outside of an injury.
The other three centers you mentioned are better options for the Jets, and would put them in line for signing a veteran to a one year deal, which may possibly have the rookie working with Zach on the 2nd team offense.
Everyone wants the Jets to draft an OT, but I would argue that there are only right tackles available, and most likely guards in the first round.
I wonder if you have time to compare the OT’s in this draft, and look back at both the 2020 and 2021 drafts 1st round prospects.
2020 1st Round – Drafted T/G/C
4. New York Giants: Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
10. Cleveland Browns: Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama
11. New York Jets: Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
18. Miami Dolphins: Austin Jackson, OT, USC
29. Tennessee Titans: Isaiah Wilson, OT, Georgia
(24. New Orleans Saints: Cesar Ruiz, C, Michigan)
2021 1st Round – Drafted T/G/C
7. Detroit Lions: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
13. Los Angeles Chargers: Rashawn Slater, OL, Northwestern
14. New York Jets: Alijah Vera-Tucker G, USC
17. Las Vegas Raiders: Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama
23. Minnesota Vikings: Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
In 2022, nine lineman were chosen in the 1st round, and it may be too soon to fully evaluate the class as a whole.
However, I really think that comparing Slater, Wirfs, Vera-Tucker and Skronski would be of interest, as I think that may be where his talent is most comparable.
In addition, comparing Darrisaw, Leatherwood, Jackson and Wilson and/or Thomas, Sewell, Wills, and Becton to Johnson, Wright, Jones, and Harrison could determine if they are truly worthy of the 13th selection.
Enjoy your weekend!
I agree with you about the OT class which is why I have been saying for a long time 13 doesn’t have to be an OT. I think it will be a DL of some kind. I also like Tippman of the centers. It may not matter but something about taking an OL from Wisconsin vs Min, that I like.
The other thing I don’t understand is Skornonski? EVERYBODY prefers AVT at OG because he can be “all world” and don’t think he’s as good of an OT prospect because he’s got short arms, yet Skornonski at OT is everybody’s choice? I’d rather take the best OG in the class and move AVT to RT, then take an OT with some questions…but that’s just me.
I want to put it out there that I did not see your response when I wrote my reply to Peter above, and some may think that we may be the lost Corsican Brothers. But, we are in agreement with Tippman, and the belief that moving AVT to RT makes more sense, if they do draft an OT/OG in either of the first two rounds.
As far as, what they should do at pick # 13.
I think the top three realistic players that I would like to see the Jet’s draft in round 1, whether at #13 or trade back/swap scenario would be Smith-Njigba, Kancey, or Skoronski.
Jaxon greatly improves their WR group and offensive fire power, Calijah can be a force in pass rushing situations, and has the speed to chase the QB, and Peter is a sound guard, who may be able to adjust to RT in the pros.
Whatever they do, it is nice to see them on the upswing for a change
Enjoy your weekend!