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NY Jets send three coaches to Michigan pro day

J.J. McCarthy
J.J. McCarthy

Michigan has several interesting draft prospects for the New York Jets

With the NFL Draft just over a month away, the New York Jets’ options in the draft continue to be the No. 1 source of debate among fans. After adding Tyron Smith, Morgan Moses, and Mike Williams, the Jets filled their biggest offseason needs, leading to some mystery about their draft direction.

For a clue about the Jets’ draft process, it’s interesting to see which staff members they choose to send to various college pro days. Today, the national champion Michigan Wolverines are holding their pro day in Ann Arbor, boasting a record 18 NFL Combine invitees.

The Jets have three coaches in attendance: offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, tight ends coach Ron Middleton, and offensive line coach Keith Carter.

Given the coaches they sent, here are some of the prospects the Jets might be interested in.

QB J.J. McCarthy

The Jets have been interested in many of the quarterbacks in the draft, meeting with Jayden Daniels, Drake Maye, Bo Nix, and Jordan Travis. Therefore, it’s likely they’re doing their due diligence on McCarthy. It’s hard to believe the Jets would take a quarterback in the first round, but like the Packers with Jordan Love, the possibility is always there.

McCarthy seems set to go in the top five, making this even more unlikely.

WR Roman Wilson

Roman Wilson vaulted himself into draft attention with his performance at the Senior Bowl. He’s gone from a third-round prospect to perhaps an early second-round slot. At NFL Mock Draft Database, while his consensus big board spot is No. 48, his most frequent mock draft spot is to the Patriots at No. 34. Since the Jets don’t have a second-round pick, he’s likely out of their reach.

Still, Wilson’s 4.39-second 40-yard dash and 1.52-second 10-yard split undoubtedly make him of interest to the Jets. Despite adding Mike Williams, the Jets still don’t have a productive No. 3 receiver on the roster following Allen Lazard’s miserable 2023 season. Wilson’s production out of the slot (68.7% of reps), including 16.4 yards per reception and 12 touchdowns, and his speed and shiftiness would fit perfectly into the Jets’ offense.

IOL Zak Zinter

Currently, the Jets’ only backup interior offensive lineman is Wes Schweitzer. Value at interior offensive line is easier to find in the middle rounds of the draft, and Zak Zinter would fit the bill.

This is Pro Football Focus’ description of him: “Zinter’s movement limitations will likely limit him to man/gap schemes, but he does have sufficient power to get a shot at a starting role at some point in such systems.” Considering that the Jets are likely switching to a gap scheme, which Michigan ran, that would make Zinter a potential fit. Keith Carter’s presence at the pro day confirms this likely interest.

Zinter allowed just five pressures on 296 pass-blocking snaps in 2023, an elite 1.7% pressure rate. That follows a 2.2% rate in 2022, showcasing that his pass-blocking prowess is likely not a fluke. Zinter also earned a solid 72.2 Pro Football Focus gap-blocking grade in 2023.

All but one of Zinter’s snaps in college came at right guard, and you have to wonder whether the Jets would want a backup IOL who can’t play center. Still, Zinter is the No. 110 overall prospect on the NFL Mock Draft Database consensus big board, and the Jets have the No. 111 overall pick in the draft.

Trevor Keegan, IOL

Keegan is another offensive lineman who was invited to the Combine. He has short arms (32⅜ inches, 15th percentile among IOL) but ran a solid 5.24-second 40-yard dash (61st). He’s listed as the No. 187 overall prospect on the consensus big board, and the Jets have the No. 185 overall pick.

Keegan had a 2.9% pressure rate in 2023, far better than his previous two seasons (5.4% and 4%). He earned a 63.9 PFF run-blocking grade, and his 64.0 gap-blocking grade ranked in the 76th percentile among 173 qualified FBS guards (min. 300 run-blocking snaps).

TE A.J. Barner

Among 131 FBS tight ends with at least 200 run-blocking snaps, A.J. Barner’s 78.6 gap-blocking grade ranked second. He’s the No. 197 overall prospect on the big board. Barner isn’t much of a receiver (22 catches for 249 yards and a score) but could be on the Jets’ radar in the sixth or seventh round.

Other prospects

Joe Douglas seems to draft a running back each year, making RB Blake Corum a possibility. He’s the No. 78 consensus overall prospect, though, which is likely out of the Jets’ range with their other needs.

OL Drake Nugent is the No. 214 prospect, while Ladarius Henderson is No. 236. WR Cornelius Johnson is No. 228.

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2 months ago

If we want to ponder a really tough NYJ question, then…What would you do if you were GM sitting at pick 10 and JJ McCarthy is on the board? Honestly, I’m not sure.

They Jets have holes filled, and could potentially add a quality WR or OL for development later in the draft so drafting him seems like a smart move for the future.

Then again, the team is clearly looking for immediate wins so picking a player or moving around the draft board to add impact players now could help them make a deep run?

As fans, writers etc. it’s important to understand that decision has to be made now, not after we see the results it’s too easy to bash if the decision they make goes wrong.