New York Jets: Top 5 players to keep an eye on at the Senior Bowl

AUSTIN, TX - SEPTEMBER 22: Collin Johnson #9 of the Texas Longhorns catches a pass for a touchdown in the third quarter defended by Jeff Gladney #12 of the TCU Horned Frogs at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on September 22, 2018 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
AUSTIN, TX - SEPTEMBER 22: Collin Johnson #9 of the Texas Longhorns catches a pass for a touchdown in the third quarter defended by Jeff Gladney #12 of the TCU Horned Frogs at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on September 22, 2018 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /
New York Jets, Senior Bowl (Photo by Marianna Massey/Getty Images)
New York Jets, Senior Bowl (Photo by Marianna Massey/Getty Images) /

The New York Jets are in full offseason mode looking ahead to 2020. One area the team should study is the Senior Bowl, here are the top 5 players to watch.

The Reese’s Senior Bowl is an annual college football all-star game that features the best senior college football prospects. It all starts this week and the New York Jets should be closely monitoring this event.

For those who are unaware of this event, this is one of the biggest markers on the NFL offseason calendar heading into the NFL draft. To add some sizzle to the festivities, here are some of the alum of the Senior Bowl and members of its Hall of Fame:

  • ‘Broadway’ Joe Namath (class of 1988)
  • Ozzie Newsome (class of 1989)
  • Kevin Mawae (class of 2008)
  • Terrell Owens (class of 2010)

Obviously several former Gang Green legends and quite frankly NFL stars. This is a special event that brings arguably the greatest collection of talent on the planet in one place.

2020 is no different. This year’s Senior Bowl is bubbling with future All-Pros, first-round picks, and gems. Here are the top-5 players the New York Jets should keep an eye on during Senior Bowl week (practices and the game on Saturday).

Next: 5. Dynamic EDGE rusher

Alton Robinson. Scouting Report. Pick Analysis. EDGE. Syracuse. 827. 5

The New York Jets have a really solid defense, but one of their biggest areas of weakness and has been for a long time is EDGE rusher. There will be several intriguing options available in free agency, but the 2020 NFL Draft also has a slew of interesting prospects.

Gang Green should explore some local ties with Syracuse pass rusher Alton Robinson. He’s had a so-so Senior Bowl week with a lot of great moments and a lot of low moments. Which could be a way to describe his 2019 season with the Orange.

In three years with the Syracuse football team, he totaled 19 sacks, 32 tackles for loss, 115 total tackles, and five forced fumbles.

Although there’s a dark chapter in his past that must be cleared up with NFL teams.

Sal Capaccio of WGR550 in Buffalo recently spoke with Alton at the Senior Bowl and that is his No. 1 goal this week:

Alton’s talent is undeniable and from all accounts, this seems to be an isolated one-time lapse in judgment, but nonetheless he has to answer the bell for his past actions. If that is all cleared up, then teams should have no hesitation snagging him as a “day two” pick.

Next: 4. NYJ can fix CB w/ this guy

Scouting Report. Pittsburgh. 866. Pick Analysis. CB. Dane Jackson. 4

There are several talented cornerbacks at this year’s Senior Bowl, but several analysts are labeling Dane Jackson out of Pittsburgh the best among them.

Jackson the redshirt senior is listed at 6-foot, 190 pounds and has some solid production from his four years in the ACC: 149 total tackles, four interceptions, four forced fumbles, and 39 pass deflections.

Per NFL Draft Analyst Nick Farabaugh, Jackson has a pretty amazing story.

“He was a two-star recruit that was originally a high school quarterback with only three FBS offers (Bowling Green, Eastern Michigan, and Pittsburgh). Dane picks Pitt, eventually becomes a starter, and puts in several quality years.”

An aggressive player who could fit with the New York Jets. They don’t have any bonafide starters although you have to love what you saw from Bless Austin and Arthur Maulet down the stretch. Gregg Williams had arguably one of the best coaching performances of his career making chicken salad out of chicken s***.

The Jets should make things easier on him in 2020 by improving the talent pool. One way they can do that is bringing Dane Jackson into the fold.

Next: 3. Hook 'Em Horns!

Scouting Report. Pick Analysis. 3. WR. Texas. Collin Johnson. 851

It’s no secret that the New York Jets need help at wide receiver. Fortunately, the 2020 NFL Draft and more specifically the Senior Bowl is the perfect hunting ground to find their man.

Collin Johnson certainly looks the part: 6-foot-6, 220 pounds. Despite playing at a big-time school, he never put up absolute video-game numbers (never had a 1,000-yard season), but he has all the traits that scouts drool over.

During Senior Bowl practice Johnson has been excelling in the 1-on-1 matchups vs some of the top cornerbacks in the nation.

Johnson has shown a propensity to come down with contested catches and we’ve seen some good action at the line of scrimmage vs opposing corners. When you have a guy that big it can be hard to create separation.

Although the Jets really struggled in the red zone and instantly that would improve with the addition of Collin Johnson out of Texas. Wouldn’t be surprised if the green and white add several receivers this offseason to give the entire unit a facelift.

Next: 2. UM pass rusher

2. Scouting Report. EDGE. Michigan. Joshua Uche. 811. Pick Analysis

By all accounts, Joshua Uche has been one of the brightest stars at this year’s Senior Bowl. The 6-foot-2, 250-pound linebacker would be a wonderful 3-4 outside linebacker fit with the New York Jets.

During his four-year career at Michigan, he tallied 15.5 sacks and put up some impressive stats, but the overarching theme is untapped potential. Most of the stats came in a situational pass-rushing role, but even still his abilities suggest he should’ve had bigger numbers.

With his unlimited potential and traits, he will continue to soar up draft boards.

Regardless of what the Jets do with their in-house free agents, they’ll need more EDGE help. The team should try to retain Jordan Jenkins who is a blue-collar pass rusher. Then on the other side they can plug Uche to add some star power to that unit.

Next: 1. The No. 1 player to watch

1. 815. Scouting Report. Pick Analysis. QB. Oklahoma. Jalen Hurts

This may shock you, but it really shouldn’t. The New York Jets desperately need a backup quarterback. Heading into 2020 they only have two quarterbacks on the roster: Sam Darnold and Mike White.

Darnold is the unquestioned franchise quarterback and White is a no-name quarterback with zero experience. On the surface they need help, but when you add the context of 2019, it makes the backup spot even more of a priority.

The Jets were forced to roll out guys like Trevor Siemian and Luke Falk (although they likely could’ve signed someone better in free agency but that’s a different topic for a different day).

Jalen Hurts is a huge draw at the Senior Bowl due to his ties in Alabama. Speaking of the Crimson Tide days, Hurts is the consummate professional. When he was benched in the National Championship game, he handled it like a pro.

Hurts has been a backup and most recently he was a star for the Oklahoma Sooners in 2019 under the direction of Lincoln Riley. Currently, NFL draft experts project Jalen as a “day three” pick (somewhere between rounds four and seven).

Next. New York Jets: Top 10 2020 NFL free agents Gang Green should chase

The team currently doesn’t own a short or long term answer at the backup quarterback position, Hurts would be an ideal insurance policy if Darnold ever gets hurt.