Draft

New York Jets: Top five prospects to watch in the 2019 Senior Bowl

FRISCO, TX - DECEMBER 20: Jaylon Ferguson #45 of the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs sacks Ben Hicks #8 of the Southern Methodist Mustangs in the third quarter during the 2017 DXL Frisco Bowl on December 20, 2017 in Frisco, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
FRISCO, TX - DECEMBER 20: Jaylon Ferguson #45 of the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs sacks Ben Hicks #8 of the Southern Methodist Mustangs in the third quarter during the 2017 DXL Frisco Bowl on December 20, 2017 in Frisco, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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FRISCO, TX – DECEMBER 20: Jaylon Ferguson #45 of the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs sacks Ben Hicks #8 of the Southern Methodist Mustangs in the third quarter during the 2017 DXL Frisco Bowl on December 20, 2017 in Frisco, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
FRISCO, TX – DECEMBER 20: Jaylon Ferguson #45 of the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs sacks Ben Hicks #8 of the Southern Methodist Mustangs in the third quarter during the 2017 DXL Frisco Bowl on December 20, 2017 in Frisco, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

The 2019 Reese’s Senior Bowl will take place in Mobile, Alabama on January 26th. With an abundance of talent this year, these are the players that New York Jets fans should be looking at.

The Senior Bowl remains one of the highlights of the entire college scouting process. In the months leading up to the NFL Draft, teams will review tape and meet with prospects to gauge their true value and figure out a plan of action come draft time.

That all begins at the Senior Bowl.

This is the first chance for NFL teams to meet with these players and get an up-close look at them in action. Coaches work with those invited throughout the week of Senior Bowl practices all leading up to the big game Saturday afternoon.

Last year’s Senior Bowl featured future top 40 selections such as Baker Mayfield, Josh Allen, Will Hernandez, Marcus Davenport, and Da’Shawn Hand just to name a few. There is a just-as-talented crop of prospects this year and a few names that the New York Jets or any team should be keeping an eye on.

Let’s take a look at a few of those players who could stand out this weekend.

FORT WORTH, TX – DECEMBER 03: Justin Silmon #32 of the Kansas State Wildcats celebrates with Dalton Risner #71 of the Kansas State Wildcats, Reid Najvar #67 of the Kansas State Wildcats and Zach Reuter #15 of the Kansas State Wildcats after scoring a touchdown against the TCU Horned Frogs at Amon G. Carter Stadium on December 3, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
FORT WORTH, TX – DECEMBER 03: Justin Silmon #32 of the Kansas State Wildcats celebrates with Dalton Risner #71 of the Kansas State Wildcats, Reid Najvar #67 of the Kansas State Wildcats and Zach Reuter #15 of the Kansas State Wildcats after scoring a touchdown against the TCU Horned Frogs at Amon G. Carter Stadium on December 3, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

5. OT/OG Dalton Risner – Kansas State

The Jets will certainly be looking to revamp their offensive line going into 2019 and what better way to do that than by building through the draft.

Risner has been a three-year starter as a right tackle at Kansas State and has earned a reputation as one of the most technically sound, physical linemen in all of college football. He’s a powerful run blocker who uses his technique to gain leverage and drive defenders back, opening holes in the run game.

While his pass protection isn’t the strength of his game as he can sometimes be caught flatfooted, it would be a stretch to call it a weakness. Risner lacks ideal size and length for a right tackle in the NFL meaning it would be ideal for him to slide inside and play guard at the next level.

This fits perfectly for the Jets who appear set at offensive tackle for the time being but will undoubtedly be looking to upgrade their interior offensive line. Risner could be slotted in as a Day 1 starter at left guard and give the team the upgrade in the run game that they’re looking for.

He is already 24 which might scare some teams away, but look for Risner to be selected within the first two rounds come April. If the Jets opt to trade down and pick up a second rounder, Risner could be a perfect compliment to whoever they take with their first pick.

Next: A hard-hitting, physical cornerback

HOUSTON, TX – NOVEMBER 10: Bryson Smith #1 of the Houston Cougars is forced out of bounds by Rock Ya-Sin #6 of the Temple Owls in the third quarter at TDECU Stadium on November 10, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX – NOVEMBER 10: Bryson Smith #1 of the Houston Cougars is forced out of bounds by Rock Ya-Sin #6 of the Temple Owls in the third quarter at TDECU Stadium on November 10, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

4. CB Rock Ya-Sin – Temple

Apart from having one of the most incredible names in this year’s draft class, Ya-Sin offers teams a high-upside prospect with excellent size and length.

The Temple product didn’t start playing football until his 11th-grade year of high school, originally focusing primarily on amateur wrestling. As such, Ya-Sin was hardly a coveted prospect coming out of high school settling for former FCS school, Presbyterian College. He transferred his senior year to Temple and quickly became one of the more talented players on the team.

Ya-Sin is a physical boundary corner who plays well in a press man scheme, something this Jets defense has built their secondary around. At 6’1,” Ya-Sin has excellent size for a cornerback making him an ideal fit for the Jets defensive scheme.

He struggles when it comes to downfield footwork and ball skills which are likely a product of his limited football experience. In many ways, he’s similar to Jets cornerback Morris Claiborne in both his strengths and weaknesses, making him a potentially intriguing option to be a long term replacement for the soon-to-be free agent.

Ya-Sin offers more upside than Claiborne if he could ever solidify his footwork and track the ball better in the air, but does offer a lower floor. Given his high-character and hard-working background, however, I would bank on Ya-Sin being a successful developmental story at the next level making him an intriguing option as a late Day 2 or early Day 3 pick.

Next: The FBS all-time leading sacker

FRISCO, TX – DECEMBER 20: Jaylon Ferguson #45 of the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs during the 2017 DXL Frisco Bowl on December 20, 2017 in Frisco, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
FRISCO, TX – DECEMBER 20: Jaylon Ferguson #45 of the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs during the 2017 DXL Frisco Bowl on December 20, 2017 in Frisco, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

3. EDGE Jaylon Ferguson – Louisiana Tech

The Jets need help at edge rusher and given the team’s expected move to a 4-3 defense, there doesn’t appear to be a single 4-3 defensive end currently on the roster. The team will likely turn to free agency to add at least one starter, but the draft should give them a few intriguing options as well.

If you’re looking for an uber-productive edge rusher with ideal size then look no further than Louisiana Tech’s Jaylon Ferguson.

Ferguson made headlines in late December by breaking Terrell Suggs record for the most career sacks in FBS history by picking up 2.5 sacks in his final collegiate game to set the new record at 45. He finished his senior season with an incredible 17.5 sacks which topped even Kentucky’s Josh Allen for most sacks last season at the FBS level.

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While it’s unfair to compare the two as Allen faced significantly tougher competition, it is encouraging to see this level of production. Unfortunately, that production doesn’t always translate to the NFL level.

Ferguson’s lack of definitive pass rush moves makes him more likely to be a solid run-stopping defensive end in the pros rather than a true pass rusher. He finishes tackles strong giving him an edge when it comes to defending the run.

If he is able to shine at the Senior Bowl against better competition, however, don’t be surprised to hear his name called on Day 1 giving the Jets a solid edge rusher option if they were to trade back to the middle of the round. If they’re lucky, he could even be available early in the second round.

Next: A potential long-term solution at center

2. C Elgton Jenkins – Mississippi State

The Jets needed to upgrade at the center position going into 2018 and decided to take a chance on former Washington Redskin Spencer Long. One year later, it seems like they swung and missed.

This year, the Jets could opt to take a different approach and tackle the need in the draft as opposed to free agency. If they were to go that route, Mississippi State’s Elgton Jenkins could be their best option.

A two-year starter at center, Jenkins has the versatility to play all over the offensive line but his best fit is as a center in a zone blocking scheme. He is a high IQ, athletically gifted center who possesses the size and agility to be an excellent starting center at the next level.

He isn’t the most powerful run blocker and sometimes finds himself off-balance if tasked with a one-on-one situation but his athleticism does allow him to get into the next level to provide the lead block.

Jenkins could be a plug-and-play Day 1 starter who likely won’t be drafted too high. Expect him to be taken early in the third round with a chance to jump up into the second or maybe even late first with impressive showings at the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine.

If he’s there on the board for the Jets in Round 3, they would be foolish to pass up on a potential immediate upgrade at the center position and hopefully a long-term solution along the offensive line.

Next: A two-down, run-stopping linebacker

SOUTH BEND, IN – SEPTEMBER 08: Te’von Coney #4 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrates a sack with Khalid Kareem #53 against the Ball State Cardinals at Notre Dame Stadium on September 8, 2018 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
SOUTH BEND, IN – SEPTEMBER 08: Te’von Coney #4 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrates a sack with Khalid Kareem #53 against the Ball State Cardinals at Notre Dame Stadium on September 8, 2018 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

1. LB Te’Von Coney – Notre Dame

While linebacker may not seem like the most pressing need for the Jets at first glance, the Jets expected switch to the 4-3 defense will necessitate some sort of addition at the position. The team will likely slide Darron Lee over to the weak-side position and have Avery Williamson occupy the MIKE role leaving the team without a true strong-side defender in the base defense.

That’s where Notre Dame’s Te’Von Coney could step in.

Coney is your typical run-stuffing linebacker of the past, a throwback to the old days where defenses would regularly have to defend against 22 offensive sets. His seemingly one-dimensional skillset makes him limited as a player but he could prove to be great value on Day 3 for the Jets.

Coney is a tough, physical linebacker who excels at shooting the gap and seldom misses tackles. He has the football IQ to rarely miss assignments in the run game and seems to always be in his gap and around the ball-carrier.

When it comes to pass coverage, however, Coney may be a lost cause. He oftentimes appears bewildered in zone coverage and doesn’t have the speed and lateral quickness to stick with running backs in man coverage.

Coney would be best served as a run-stopping linebacker in a base 4-3 defense coming off the field in the nickel package and on passing downs. Lee and Williamson could be the two passing down linebackers while Coney could be a two-down linebacker serving as the best run defender on the team.

Next. Five first-round draft targets for the Jets

And that’s great value for a player who could be picked up in the fourth or fifth round of the draft come April. It may not seem like the most immediate need, but the value may be too much to pass up on.

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