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Don’t believe these narratives surrounding NY Jets draft targets

Brock Bowers
Brock Bowers

Some New York Jets draft targets are being overhyped in particular areas

With the NFL Combine rapidly approaching, the hype surrounding potential New York Jets draft prospects will rapidly crank up. By now, the typical names are well-known. The Combine can always shift projections, and the Jets showed in 2023 that they’re not beyond throwing the prognosticators a curveball. Still, the realistic pool of players the Jets can draft at No. 10 is pretty narrow right now.

Many of the consensus mock draft favorites have far more flaws than Jets fans might think, though. In particular, among four prospects who have been mocked to the Jets recently, there are specific holes in each of their games that could sink them at the NFL level. This does not mean the Jets should avoid drafting them, but they should certainly take them into account, particularly if they’re planning to make a surprising pick.

Here is one specific overrated skill for four of the prospects who are most commonly mocked to the Jets.

Olu Fashanu: Pass-blocking

Right now, Olu Fashanu is the No. 10 prospect on NFL Mock Draft Database’s consensus big board, and his consensus mock draft spot is No. 10 to the Jets. The Jets need a pass-blocking left tackle, and Fashanu is widely considered the best one in the draft. Seems like a no-brainer, right?

Not so fast. Joe Blewett reviewed Fashanu’s tape and found flaws in his pass-blocking sets, specifically in his hand usage. Fashanu tends to throw a punch with his inside hand, and while it served him well at the college level, skilled NFL edge rushers will wipe that aside and knock Fashanu off balance.

Fashanu wears No. 74.

There are even hints of this in Fashanu’s statistics. He ranked 70th out of 199 FBS tackles (min. 350 pass-blocking snaps) with a 2.5% non-true pass set pressure rate. While true pass sets tend to be more important, as they isolate reps on which there was no play-action, screen, or three-man rush sets to make things easier for the tackle, giving up a significant amount of pressure in non-true pass sets is somewhat alarming.

Why was Fashanu beaten so often on plays with screens, play-action, fewer than four pass rushers, or releases outside of 2-4 seconds?

Brock Bowers: Route-running, hands, blocking

While Brock Bowers is not necessarily a widely-discussed prospect for the Jets, some believe they’ll simply go for the best playmaker available at No. 10. Since Malik Nabers and Rome Odunze seem likely to go before No. 10, Bowers may be more likely to fall to the Jets.

As a two-time Mackey Award winner, Bowers has garnered a reputation as the next Rob Gronkowski. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Bowers may have incredible YAC ability for a tight end, but the rest of his game is underdeveloped.

Statistically, Bowers caught just 2 of 8 contested targets (25%) in 2023, belying any narrative that he’s the big target with strong hands that the Jets are looking for. While his numbers in this area were stronger in his previous two seasons, Bowers’ film indicates that the lack of contested-catch ability is a legitimate concern.

Furthermore, Bowers’ route-running is rudimentary. The Jets already have a solid route-running tight end in Tyler Conklin. While Conklin does not have anywhere near the YAC skills that Bowers does, he’s twice the route-runner. Bowers doesn’t have that consistent ability to beat linebackers one-on-one or win as a big slot receiver, even though that’s his primary position.

As a blocker, Bowers is willing, but he’s not necessarily able. He struggles to block in line. Considering how much the Jets ask their tight ends to block, that’s yet another box Bowers does not check.

It might have been worthwhile for the Jets to go out of position for the best player available — if Bowers were actually that guy. But he’s not.

Rome Odunze: Route-running

Rome Odunze’s contested-catch ability is legitimate. It’s what will make him a top-10 pick in the draft. He has that go-up-and-get-it skill that wins at the NFL level.

However, his route-running is not on that same level. He does not vary his releases all that much, which could cause him to struggle against man coverage. Odunze also doesn’t create a tremendous amount of separation, winning more with his hands than his technical refinement.

Taliese Fuaga: Run-blocking

Taliese Fuaga’s reputation is that he’s a mauling run-blocker who can excel in both gap and zone schemes. However, Blewett views him as a better fit for a gap scheme because of a lack of lateral agility. It’s that same weakness that makes Blewett see him as a guard at the NFL level; Fuaga could struggle against speed rushers. (Imagine Bryce Huff against a tackle who can’t seal off the edge quickly enough.)

While the Jets played a more balanced run scheme in 2023, employing a 1.32-to-1 ratio of zone-to-gap-blocking, Nathaniel Hackett has utilized a much heavier zone scheme in the past. Fuaga’s pass-blocking is already shakier than some of the other tackles, and if his run-blocking is not elite, he should take a step behind some of the other tackles who might be available.

Fuaga wears No. 75.

Anything better?

For each of these players, the flaw mentioned has a different level of impact.

Bowers’ combination of flaws should make the Jets stay far away. He is not close to the can’t-miss tight end prospect he has been touted as. If a team drafts Bowers before No. 10, the Jets should be grateful that it leaves them with another option at their slot.

Odunze is not an ideal prospect for the Jets, but if he somehow falls to them and they haven’t acquired a No. 2 receiver in free agency, he’s probably worth the pick. His contested-catch ability can still make him an effective receiver in Year 1 while he fine-tunes his route-running.

Fashanu and Fuaga are both options at No. 10. It would make sense for the Jets to draft either one. However, J.C. Latham is a smoother prospect overall without the glaring flaws that either one faces. Latham seems highly likely to be available at No. 10 at this point. Those flaws should be fatal for the prospects if Latham is still on the board for the Jets.

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2 months ago

If you do this kind of “deep dive” you will find flaws with every prospect, some overcome them and become great players others cannot and just don’t have the impact. That’s why drafting is so difficult. You are also not considering that any of these candidates can improve past their current flaws.

While I think your overall analysis is on point, without the scope of the same analytics on all of the other prospects it takes the “flaws” out of context. I’ll bet you will see “flaws” with Latham, or any other player the Jets will draft. It’s always nice for reporters to have these things written down so they can say “see I told you so” IF a player doesn’t work out.

I don’t see many Jets’ reporters revisiting their “Suck for Sam” headlines day after day. (Although, you were not on the Sam bandwagon).

Jonathan Richter
Jonathan Richter
2 months ago

Just more reasons to trade back.

2 months ago

I agree, and like Guyton.