Jan 26, 2016; Mobile, AL, USA; North squad offensive tackle Joe Haeg of North Dakota State (59) stretches before the start of Senior Bowl practice at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Glenn Andrews-USA TODAY Sports
For the NY Jets, these top six small players from small schools across the nation could help fill immediate needs and turn out to be hidden gems.
As a result of my writings here on The Jet Press and around the web, I was introduced to Twitter a couple of years back. I’m a bit older and I will readily admit I’m basically computer illiterate, new technology doesn’t come easily. Even Twitter was a challenge when I started, but I did learn, and now spend quite a bit of time there staying current and reading opinions.
Over the years, I’ve learned to look for a specific type of tweet around this time of year. They are there every year without fail, and a few have begun to pop up in recent days. They are “tweets” from small school college football players trying to grab someone’s notice on the varying social media outlets. These young men for the most part, fly under the radar and many of their schools don’t offer a Pro Day for them to show off their skill sets. For small school players, its often a steep climb up a mountain to get to the NFL.
So, I wanted to discuss with you a couple of guys that many have never heard of. If it weren’t for a tweet that caught my eye, and some research, I might not have heard of some of them either. I wish them the best of luck in fulfilling their NFL’s dreams, and I hope my limited circulation might help somehow.
Here are the top six players that could interest the Jets come the 2016 NFL Draft.
Next: 6. A native New Yorker
Apr 30, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; NFL commissioner Roger Goodell addresses the crowd in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
6. Victor Ochi (Defensive End)
One guy I’m sure a few of you know is Victor Ochi, a local product from Brooklyn, New York. Ochi played his college football at StonyBrook University as the SeaWolves defensive end. He measures out at 6’2 tall and tips the scales at 255 pounds. Ochi’s size is not ideal and he’s considered raw due to the level of competition he’s faced, but Ochi leaves Stonybrook as their all time sack leader.
His accomplishments in college earned him a Shrine Game invite this year. The Jets may have an interest in him as a developmental type and special teams contributor, if he goes undrafted, look for the Jets sign him as an UDFA.
Next: 5. A wide receiver out of Pennsylvania
Apr 30, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; A general view of the stage before the 2015 NFL Draft at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
5. Jon Schnaars (Wide Receiver)
The next young man hails from my area. I’m a bit biased as a result, but Jon Schnaars is a wide receiver from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He played his college football at East Stroudsburg University. Schnaars stands 6’3 and is listed as 210 pounds.
Schnaars is an interesting project in this draft, he has ideal size and displays enough burst to gain separation. He’s a big strong receiver, who isn’t afraid to block either. If the Jets are looking for a big bodied receiver to develop, Schnaars might be one to keep an eye on after the draft.
Next: 4. A versatile offensive lineman
Jan 26, 2016; Mobile, AL, USA; North squad offensive tackle Joe Haeg of North Dakota State (59) blocks in a drill during Senior Bowl practice at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Glenn Andrews-USA TODAY Sports
4. Joe Haeg (Offensive Lineman)
A bigger name from the small school list is Joe Haeg. Haeg played left tackle for North Dakota State, protecting Carson Wentz’s blind side the past two seasons. He also has experience playing on the right side, playing right tackle in his freshman and sophomore campaigns. Haeg is listed by North Dakota State as being 6’6 tall and weighing 307 pounds.
He could be a target for the Jets in the mid rounds, he’ll need to beef up in a NFL weight program, but his versatility and potential make him worth a serious look if he’s there.
Next: 3. A developmental running back
Apr 30, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; A general view as the Tennessee Titans make their pick in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
3. DyShawn Mobley (Running Back)
The Jets might be looking for a developmental running back, depending on their decisions at the position. Small school DyShawn Mobley out of Eastern Kentucky hopes to find a spot to prove his value. Mobley stands 6’1 tall and carries his 225 pound frame well. Mobley posted 1,491 yards on 258 carries and 20 touchdowns in 2014, before being slowed by injury his senior year.
Next: 2. A defensive end worth developing
Jan 30, 2016; Mobile, AL, USA; North squad quarterback Carson Wentz of North Dakota State (11) throws a pass while under pressure from South squad defensive end Noah Spence of Eastern Kentucky (97) during first half of the Senior Bowl at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports
2. Noah Spence (Defensive End)
Noah Spence is a name most will recognize. Spence got into trouble at Ohio State and landed at Eastern Kentucky. Spence has by many reports, moved on from his early trouble and has been dominating for Eastern Kentucky since arrival.
Spence had a brilliant showing at the Senior Bowl and few doubt he will show any less at the upcoming 2016 NFL Combine. Speculation that the Jets have a keen interest, has begun an early buzz among Jet fans.
Next: 1. A tight end out of Concordia
Jan 3, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; A general view of a New York Jets helmet and an NFL football during the game between the Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
1. Jermain Clemon (Tight End)
I found a tweet just from a young tight end who was trying to get his highlight reel into an NFL scouts hands. That young man is Jermaine Clemon, who played his college football for Concordia University in St. Paul, Minnesota. Clemon stands 6’3 and weighs 245 pounds. He won’t be drafted this year, but he may get a look from someone after the draft, if he can get noticed.
The highlight reel on Clemon shows some decent hands in the passing game, but what stands out is his ferocity in the blocking game. Level of competition coming from a small school is the problem that Clemon and most small school players face in trying to get to an NFL roster.
More from The Jet Press
- NY Jets should target TE Hunter Henry in free agency
- NY Jets: Why the team should target cornerback Shaquill Griffin
- NY Jets reportedly non-tendering linebacker Harvey Langi
- NY Jets: Why the team should not cut Jamison Crowder
- NY Jets should try to sign Kenny Golladay in free agency
Small school players have been more frequently drafted in recent years, this year will continue that trend, with the possibility that small school quarterback Carson Wentz might go in the top five of this year’s draft.
Small schools are being scouted a bit more aggressively, but the task of making it to the NFL is still a steep uphill battle. Invites to the combine still tend to go to the big program players, leaving the small school players scrambling to get to a Pro Day or a regional combine to catch someone’s attention.
I’ve held the belief for quite some time that the NFL should invest in a developmental league. Past attempts to create such a league, failed due to fan’s lack of interest in the big markets. However, in today’s game, I think the need has actually grown, not declined as some have suggested.
Increasingly, quarterbacks are being drafted from college “spread offenses” and the result has been the creation of a quarterback hungry league. Teams are only allowed to keep 53 players on the active roster, limiting spots for developing potential talent. While the league increased the number of practice squad players, it still hasn’t solved the problem.
I admire these small school players. I respect their refusal to give up on their NFL dream. I also admire their determination and the drive they display while they are tweeting and posting their highlight tapes. These young men deserve a chance, they’ve worked their entire young lives trying to get that look from a NFL scout.
It’s just my belief, but a developmental league, backed by fans, would go a long way towards giving them the opportunities they are dreaming of. Simply, a chance to continue to develop their craft and have a team take a look at what they can offer.
Any thoughts from my readers? Maybe you have a small school prospect you’d like the Jets to take a look at? Please leave me a comment below so that we can continue to talk Jet Football!!