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New York Jets: 3 first-round players with the most to gain at the NFL Combine

ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN - NOVEMBER 17: Rashan Gary #3 of the Michigan Wolverines looks on while playing the Indiana Hoosiers at Michigan Stadium on November 17, 2018 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Michigan won the game 31-20. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN - NOVEMBER 17: Rashan Gary #3 of the Michigan Wolverines looks on while playing the Indiana Hoosiers at Michigan Stadium on November 17, 2018 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Michigan won the game 31-20. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN – NOVEMBER 17: Rashan Gary #3 of the Michigan Wolverines looks on while playing the Indiana Hoosiers at Michigan Stadium on November 17, 2018 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Michigan won the game 31-20. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN – NOVEMBER 17: Rashan Gary #3 of the Michigan Wolverines looks on while playing the Indiana Hoosiers at Michigan Stadium on November 17, 2018 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Michigan won the game 31-20. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

With the 2019 NFL Combine set to kick off shortly, here are three first-round players the New York Jets should watch with the most to gain in Indianapolis this week.

In just a couple days time, hundreds of prospective NFL players will congregate in Indianapolis, Indiana to take part in the competitive series of obstacle course-style athletic drills that we call the NFL Combine.

Prospects from around the country — big school and small school — will have their sights set on improving their draft stock as scouts will be analyzing their every movement come this week. Some will have the potential to improve their stock more than others.

Whether it’s due to athletic profile questions or concerns about medicals, the following three prospects will have the most to gain at this year’s NFL Combine. The New York Jets should also have their eyes on these players as they could each be potential first-round targets for the team.

With that, let’s take a look at these three players and touch on what each of them has to gain/lose in Indianapolis.

JACKSONVILLE, FL – DECEMBER 30: Montez Sweat #9 of the Mississippi State Bulldogs reacts after a tackle for loss against the Louisville Cardinals during the TaxSlayer Bowl at EverBank Field on December 30, 2017 in Jacksonville, Florida. The Bulldogs won 31-27. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
JACKSONVILLE, FL – DECEMBER 30: Montez Sweat #9 of the Mississippi State Bulldogs reacts after a tackle for loss against the Louisville Cardinals during the TaxSlayer Bowl at EverBank Field on December 30, 2017 in Jacksonville, Florida. The Bulldogs won 31-27. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

3. EDGE Montez Sweat

Montez Sweat is an edge prospect that could be an option for the Jets if they opt to trade down in this year’s NFL Draft. But much like the others on this list, a lot of that will depend on how he runs at the NFL Combine.

Sweat is a powerful defensive end who wins with his play strength and technical pass rushing ability but scouts have concerns over his athleticism. The Mississippi State product has struggled to beat opposing offensive tackles around the edge as his stiff hips and lack of flexibility limit him as a prospect.

Indianapolis will be Sweat’s chance to show NFL scouts that his athletic profile is better than it appears on tape. The agility drills such as the 3-cone and shuttle run will be key for Sweat as he tries to prove that his athleticism is on par with some of the other edges in this class.

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The 22-year-old will likely test well on the bench press, but it will be his times in the agility drills that will keep scouts interested in his NFL Combine performance. If Sweat tests well, expect him to garner top-10/15 hype.

But a poor showing could have the Senior Bowl standout falling all the way out of the first round.

Next: 2. A playmaking wide receiver with injury concerns

OXFORD, MS – SEPTEMBER 8: D.K. Metcalf #14 of the Mississippi Rebels catches a pass for a touchdown during a game against the Southern Illinois Salukis at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on September 8, 2018 in Oxford, Mississippi. The Rebels defeated the Salukis 76-41. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
OXFORD, MS – SEPTEMBER 8: D.K. Metcalf #14 of the Mississippi Rebels catches a pass for a touchdown during a game against the Southern Illinois Salukis at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on September 8, 2018 in Oxford, Mississippi. The Rebels defeated the Salukis 76-41. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

2. WR D.K. Metcalf, Ole Miss

For those of you who have read my previous pieces, you already know how much I love D.K. Metcalf. For those of you who haven’t, allow me to give you a brief introduction to this glorious prospect.

Metcalf is a complete prospect at the wide receiver position possessing elite size and athleticism that makes him one of the “freakiest” athletes in this class. His 6-foot-3, 225-pound frame allows him to box out defensive backs and high point the ball with ease. He is just as impressive of an underneath receiver as he is a downfield threat making him the total package as a receiver.

But Metcalf doesn’t come without his concerns.

The Ole Miss product suffered a season-ending neck injury in October of last year which has scouts concerned about how his athleticism will hold up. Moreover, a recent photo showing a jacked Metcalf has gone viral once again causing concerns about how much muscle he put on during his rehab process.

But if Metcalf comes out this week and runs a sub-4.45 40-yard dash, expect him to be a top-15 lock, right where the Jets could be picking if they trade back. If Metcalf runs a 4.60+, expect him to maybe fall out of the first round entirely.

Metcalf has the opportunity to solidify himself as WR1 in this class and a dark horse candidate for the Jets to take in the first round. But all of that will hinge on his NFL Combine performance this week.

Next: 1. An athletic specimen who hasn't lived up to the hype

STATE COLLEGE, PA – OCTOBER 21: Rashan Gary #3 of the Michigan Wolverines reacts after stopping the Penn State Nittany Lions on October 21, 2017 at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
STATE COLLEGE, PA – OCTOBER 21: Rashan Gary #3 of the Michigan Wolverines reacts after stopping the Penn State Nittany Lions on October 21, 2017 at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

1. DL/EDGE Rashan Gary, Michigan

Rashan Gary has long been regarded as one of the most talented players in all of college football. Gary enrolled at Michigan in 2016 as the No. 1 ranked high school recruit and the expectations were that he would be an immediate impact player at the collegiate level.

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While he never fully lived up to his potential in college, the talent is evident and with the right coaching in the pros, Gary could become an All-Pro talent in the NFL. That said, the NFL Combine will be very important for his draft stock.

At the moment, Gary’s best selling point as a prospect is his athletic profile. The 21-year-old has a rare blend of speed and power that leaves scouts salivating when watching his tape. Although his numbers don’t particularly stand out, scouting is a trait-based art and it’s clear that the traits are there.

If Gary comes out in Indianapolis and tests well, there’s a good chance he could wind up a top-5 pick. But if he falters and doesn’t test as well as expected, he could fall all the way towards the middle of the first round, if not later.

Next. Fried's Pre-Combine 2019 NFL Draft Big Board

Gary must solidify his draft status with his biggest strength: his athleticism.

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