New York Jets: Top 7 players to watch in National Championship game
By Paul A. Esden Jr.
The New York Jets should watch the National Championship game very closely. Here are the top seven players to keep an eye out for.
Finally, we’ve reached the culmination of a long college football season. In the National Championship game, we have the Clemson Tigers and the LSU Tigers. Two teams that call their football stadiums “Death Valley” and want to see their names immortalized forever with a victory.
While Clemson and LSU fans have an obvious vested interest in this contest, the New York Jets and their fans should also be watching this contest with a very careful eye.
Between these two powerhouse programs resides an overwhelming amount of future NFL stars on both sides of the ball. Many of them will be eligible for the 2020 NFL Draft this spring.
The New York Jets hold the No. 11 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft and they can get some early homework done by studying this National Championship game on Monday night in the Super Dome.
Although there are several names to keep an eye out for that’ll be available throughout the 2020 NFL Draft and future drafts. Here are the top seven names the Jets should be carefully examining in the National Championship game.
Next: 7. Never hurts to look
Hey, why not *shoulder shrug*.
The New York Jets feel comfortable with their franchise quarterback Sam Darnold. He’s shown enough promise in his first two seasons that if (and that’s a big if) you surround him with a solid offensive line and some weapons he’ll thrive.
But just because you have a commitment doesn’t mean you can’t look around at the other options.
Trevor Lawrence will not be in the 2020 NFL Draft pool, he still has at least another year at Clemson before he’s NFL eligible. Some people have dubbed him “Touchdown Jesus” and he plays like he’s a demi-god.
In his two years playing for the Clemson Tigers, he has accumulated 6,711 passing yards with a 66-to-12 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Also on top of his production, he looks the part: 6-foot-6, 220 pounds, and has beautiful golden locks.
Lawrence has taken the college football world by storm and it’s a matter of ‘when’ not ‘if’ he’ll be the No. 1 pick in whatever future draft he throws his name into.
Let’s say this: if the New York Jets are picking near the top of the 2021 NFL Draft, they should seriously look at Trevor Lawrence because something would’ve had to gone terribly wrong with Darnold for them to be in that position.
Next: 6. This stud will make you drool
Despite only playing two seasons thus far Ja’Marr Chase is not a name you’ll soon forget. His production has been off the charts:
2018: 23 receptions for 313 yards and three touchdowns.
2019: 75 catches for 1,559 yards and 18 touchdowns.
Chase has been dubbed the most talented wide receiver since Odell Beckham Jr. Pretty elite company and just goes to show how many talented wide receivers LSU has had over the last bunch of years.
One expert from The Draft Network believes he’ll be a top-five pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Chase is a freak and he’s so damn smooth. When he’s running routes it looks like he’s gliding with his footwork and then when the football is thrown his way he snags it with some strong mitts.
Also, he’s really good at the subtle things. Quick steps out of his break, a little head fake here, and boom his talents take over. It’ll be a bit of a tease since he won’t be available in the 2020 NFL Draft, but he’ll be one of several fun guys to watch in the National Championship game.
Next: 5. A cover man worth watching
It’s no secret that the New York Jets desperately need help at the cornerback spot. If I told you before the season some of the guys starting this year would be: Maurice Canady, Nate Hairston, and Arthur Maulet you likely would’ve responded with … WHO?!
Trumaine Johnson was an egregious error of epic proportions on the free-agent market. The team paid him over $72 million with over $34 million in guaranteed money. Despite some of those random names I mentioned he still got benched because of his lackluster work ethic and poor play this season.
So long story short the Jets need help and the top cover guy to watch during the National Championship game is Kristian Fulton of LSU. He’ll likely be one of the first corners taken off the board in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
When you’re drafting early you look for production, traits, work ethic, scheme fit among other things. Fulton has elite traits that make him an ideal fit as a man cover cornerback who is just plain sticky.
Don’t let his unimpressive interception totals fool you (two picks), he’s a nasty corner who people try to avoid more times than not. If the Jets want him they’d likely have to pull the trigger at No. 11 or they’d have to execute a trade back scenario to the teens to get the job done.
Next: 4. Could be a nice weapon for Sam Darnold
The Clemson Tigers have a bevy of wide receivers that’ll be worth watching in the National Championship game. Some will be teases as they’ll be available in future draft classes, but that’s not the case for Tee Higgins.
This freak of nature will be in the 2020 NFL Draft and that should excite football fans everywhere.
It’s unclear what they feed those boys in Clemson, South Carolina but I want some. Higgins is 6-foot-4, 215 pounds and his background as a basketball player helps him both athletically and also in 50-50 jump ball situations.
When you have a guy with his kind of size it helps out a quarterback tremendously. Think of Larry Fitzgerald who is with the Arizona Cardinals. If a quarterback just throws it in his general vicinity he usually comes down with it. Same situation here with Higgins.
His catch radius is insane based on his wingspan and his ability to high point the ball and attack it up in the air. Speaking of attacking it, that’s what Higgins does as a run blocker.
A lot of wide receivers are divas and demand the ball and aren’t willing to do the dirty work to help the team. Higgins loves blocking and opening up things for his teammates. He’s the perfect kind of star player on the field and key guy in the locker room off of it that you want on your team.
Next: 3. 2nd round target?
If the New York Jets believe all the experts then the true value of the 2020 NFL Draft is in the second and third rounds respectively. Some pundits have suggested that this is one of the richest wide receiver draft classes in the last decade.
This means receivers who would normally find themselves in the first round won’t this year because there are just too many talented players. That should be great news for the New York Jets because they should get incredible value in the second round when they’re up to bat.
Justin Jefferson may not be in the second round conversation once draft day rolls around, but he is right now. Jefferson fits the profile of what the Jets are looking for: he’s big (6-foot-3, 192 pounds), has improved his game as he’s gotten more experience, and he could be the new No. 1 wide receiver for this Gang Green offense.
There’s a nastiness to his game that once the ball goes in the air it’s his. If you slap on the tape that is super prevalent in red-zone situations and would add a nice missing piece to the Jets offense in 2020. Unlike his teammate Chase, Justin will be available in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Next: 2. Teams will be tempted with this dude
The New York Jets may have their running back of the present in Le’Veon Bell, but who is their running back of the future?
Bell is already 27 (will be 28 by the start of the 2020 season) and running backs usually hit a wall when they turn 30. Heck, some have even argued that the wall comes even earlier.
Travis Etienne would prove instant juice for this New York Jets offense based on his versatility, dynamic speed, and playmaking abilities.
He’s more so a runner (503 rushing attempts) than a pass catcher (49 career receptions), but he’s displayed more of that receiving game in 2019. His overall numbers are jarring with nearly 4,000 yards on the ground (3,960) and 61 combined touchdowns. Although his most impressive stat is his career yards per rush of 7.9.
For context, Bell had a 3.2 average (which is the worst per carry average by a New York Jets running back in team history with a minimum of 200 attempts). Although it’d be foolish to assume this is all Bell’s fault.
If any running back is going to have success in 2020 the Jets will need better line play. Expect the New York Jets to totally revamp that unit through free agency, trade, and of course the 2020 NFL Draft.
Next: 1. A name that is intriguing
Isaiah Simmons may be listed at linebacker, but he’s so much more than that. He’s quite literally a swiss army knife that can play linebacker, outside corner, slot corner, safety, and rover.
The New York Jets hoped last offseason when they signed Anthony Barr away from the Minnesota Vikings that he could be the swiss army knife of the Gregg Williams defense, but he got cold feet last second and returned to the purple people eaters.
Simmons is Barr, except he can rush the passer more effectively and can cover people in zone and man coverage. Isaiah is listed at 6-foot-4, 230 pounds and has great instincts as a football player.
The only chance the New York Jets have at selecting Simmons is if he falls to them at No. 11, but there’s a strong chance the closer we get to the 2020 NFL Draft he could be selected as high as No. 3 to the Detroit Lions or even No. 4 to the New York Giants.
For Simmons, it’s all about scheme fit. If the wrong team drafts him and misuses him he won’t be effective and he’ll likely be blamed and labeled a bust.
Over the last two years, he has really come into his own with nine sacks, four interceptions, and 5 forced fumbles.
When people ask what position does he play, don’t overcomplicate it, he’s a football player plain and simple. The New York Jets would be lucky to land a player of his magnitude.