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NY Jets: 4 college football opt-outs to target in the 2021 NFL Draft

NY Jets (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
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NY Jets (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

The NY Jets could look to target these four college football opt-outs in the 2021 NFL Draft.

The NY Jets are set to have more draft capital over the next two years than any other team in the NFL. But with excess draft capital comes excess responsibility.

General manager Joe Douglas has managed to set himself up in a position where he now has all the ammunition needed to change the fortunes of a franchise that has long resided in the league’s basement.

Acquiring those draft picks was the first step. But perhaps the hardest part is still to come — hitting on those picks.

Unfortunately, he’ll be handed no favors with the uncertain nature surrounding the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft. With the majority of the college football world already shut down for the fall, it’s impossible to predict what the future has in store for the sport.

And it’s even harder to predict how the fallout could affect the draft.

All we could do is go off of what we already know and that is that a number of high-profile college players have already opted-out of playing this season in anticipation of the 2021 NFL Draft.

Some of the biggest names in the nation won’t be playing this season — if there even is a season — which could certainly have an effect on their draft stocks. Nonetheless, the players we are about to discuss would be excellent fits for the Jets.

Let’s take a look at four college football opt-outs the Jets could target in next year’s draft.

Next: 4. Rondale Moore

NY Jets (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

4. The NY Jets could target Purdue WR Rondale Moore

Rondale Moore looked like one of the fastest-rising offensive playmakers in college football after bursting on to the scene with a 114-catch, 1,258-yard freshman season that saw him receive multiple national honors including CBS Freshman of the Year.

And going into 2019, many expected Moore to pick up where he left off in his freshman season. Unfortunately, a hamstring injury would limit him to just four games as he finished with just 29 catches for 387 yards.

Any hopes of a bounce-back 2020 season went out the window when he announced his decision to opt-out at the beginning of the month. And thus many are left wondering just how the NFL will value him come April (or whenever the draft ends up being).

Moore remains one of the most exciting offensive weapons in the game, but he hasn’t played a game since September 28, 2019. By the time he takes his first NFL snap, it will be his first snap in an organized football game in nearly two years.

It remains to be seen if his raw talent will overshadow that.

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At 5-foot-9, 175 pounds, Moore doesn’t have a traditional wide receiver’s build. He isn’t going to win with his physicality nor is he going to wrestle balls away in 50/50 situations.

Instead, Moore excels as a runner after the catch where he uses his blazing speed and superb athleticism to make opposing defenders look silly. His quick feet allow him to separate with ease, although his durability concerns will certainly follow him into the NFL.

The Jets can use all the receiver help they could get and it’s hard to ignore that Moore would be a great fit in Adam Gase’s West Coast offense.

While he won’t be the first wide receiver taken, Moore can be incredible Day 2 value if he can overcome his injury woes.

Next: 3. Caleb Farley

NY Jets (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

3. The NY Jets could target Virginia Tech CB Caleb Farley

Virginia Tech’s Caleb Farley was the first high-profile college football player to opt-out when he announced his decision back on July 29th. But that doesn’t mean he won’t be in the conversation for one of the top cornerbacks in the class when all is said and done.

At 6-foot-2, 207 pounds, Farely is a tall, physical cornerback who is fairly complete as a prospect. Despite playing quarterback at high school and starting his college career as a wide receiver, Farley’s footwork doesn’t resemble someone who’s new to the position.

His hip flexibility is above-average for a player his size and he’s never had a problem tracking the ball in the air and using his size to win in 50/50 situations. Farley’s physicality allows him to excel in press and he remains very sticky in man coverage.

Realistically, Farley could refine his zone coverage skills a little, but it’s not as if that’s the biggest thing holding him back as a prospect. Instead, much like Moore, scouts might be deterred due to his injury history.

Farley suffered a non-contact torn ACL that cost him the entire 2017 season and he missed a pair of games last year due to back spasms. However, it later came out that those back spasms affected him for most of the season and he just played through it.

On one hand, that’s impressive given how well he played. But it also means that he was injured for the better part of two of his three collegiate seasons.

The talent is evident both from a physical and technical standpoint. But Farley will have a lot of questions to answer about his health.

Regardless, for a Jets team still searching for cornerback help, he could be an ideal Day 2 target for the team.

Next: 2. Rashod Bateman

NY Jets (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

2. The NY Jets could target Minnesota WR Rashod Bateman

Rondale Moore may be the most exciting offensive player to have opted-out of the 2020 season, but he isn’t the only high-profile receiver to have made that decision.

Minnesota’s Rashod Bateman announced his decision to opt-out on August 4th marking one of the first major blows to the Big Ten’s projected season. Now, even if there is spring football, Bateman won’t be participating.

Set to be a junior in 2020, Bateman put together two impressive campaigns in 2018 and 2019 being named first-team All-Big Ten after a 60-catch, 1,219-yard season last year.

And going into 2020, the rising junior looked to solidify his place atop a stacked wide receiver class. But now, he’ll have to rely on his pre-2020 tape to do the trick.

Standing 6-foot-2, 210 pounds, Bateman doesn’t jump out as the most physical receiver. But on the field, few are as physically dominant as he is.

Bateman has an alpha mentality when in jump-ball situations regularly winning on contested catches and hauling in the vast majority of passes that hit his hands.

But unlike many other receivers who possess those same traits, Bateman is actually a very refined route-runner and the majority of his yards in 2019 came after the catch.

However, some will have concerns about his lack of scheme diversity as he’s a better fit in a vertical spread offense as opposed to one that asks him to get open on underneath routes.

Moreover, his lack of elite size means that he’ll have to operate as more than just a possession receiver in the NFL. Still, Bateman is one of the very best receivers in the upcoming class and would be a huge get for the Jets.

After all, there’s a reason why Daniel Jeremiah compared him to Michael Thomas.

Next: 1. Gregory Rousseau

NY Jets (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

1. The NY Jets could target Miami EDGE Gregory Rousseau

While the other three players on this list would have had an opportunity to establish their first-round status with an impressive showing in 2020, Gregory Rousseau is likely already there.

The Miami edge rusher burst on to the scene as a redshirt freshman in 2019 totaling a whopping 15.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss in just 13 games. The performance was good enough to see him named first-team All-ACC and ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Already seen as a potential top-five pick and the best edge rusher in his class, Rousseau had a chance to solidify his place in the top-five with another strong season this year.

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But while that won’t end up happening, don’t be surprised if he’s still one of the first names off the board by the time draft day comes around.

A phenomenal athlete with a quick first step and exceptional length, Rousseau has all the makings of the next elite pass-rusher in the NFL. A popular pro comparison has been Danielle Hunter of the Minnesota Vikings given their length and incredible physical attributes.

And it’s easy to see why that comparison is made when reviewing his tape.

Rousseau has a varied pass-rush arsenal that he uses to keep opposing linemen on their toes. While right now he wins primarily with his athleticism and physical traits, his technique showed major improvements throughout last year.

And given that he was set to be just a sophomore in 2020, he obviously has plenty of time to continue to harness his physical abilities and become a more complete player.

Provided he works on his run-defense skills and becomes a little more refined as a pass-rusher, Rousseau could be an All-Pro in the NFL in just a couple of short seasons.

Next. NY Jets Roundtable: Did the team do enough to get Sam Darnold help this offseason?

And given the vacancy that the Jets have had at the edge rush position for what feels like forever, Rousseau represents a very appealing Round 1 selection provided the Jets are picking high enough to snag him.

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